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AMET CENTRIFUGAL-FRICTION GOVERNOR


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Analogous

This Thursday, we're celebrating a milestone in phonograph history on APS' Facebook page.  It's the 130th anniversary of Edward Amet's patent filing for his weird and unique centrifugal-friction governor.  For those who've never seen one of these in action, there will be video of the governor in action on our FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/antiquephonographsociety/?view_public_for=447912976003535

 

But here's a question for the Forum.  Why did he develop this?  Flyball governors were in common use in many applications by 1891 and known for their reliability.  Was it to make a motor that was patentable?  I looked up the patent in Allen K's Patent History and found no indication of why Amet did this?

 

Any thoughts?

 

John 

 

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29 minutes ago, Mainspring said:

As I won't use social media, where can we see the video?

 

It will posted here on the APS Forum.

 

George P.

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Analogous

Years ago, Allen K. warned me to not question the muse of the inventor.  Fair enough, but I still wonder why felt the need to develop this only to end up with a motor with a modified fly-ball (the Peerless).

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John, 

 

What I have to say is merely speculation on my part.  However, having studied these governors in detail and examining the construction and machining techniques of his first production models of phonographs, I have a theory. 

 

Edward Amet was trained as an Electrical Engineer.  Emphasis on the Engineer.  His first phonographs that used top works from Edison, Bell Tainter, and Ediphone were exquisitely engineered.  You can tell that Amet was seeking to create the ideal spring motor phonograph with his motors and cases mated to existing production top-works.   His first governor design, the centrifugal governor you will show in your video this Thursday and witnessed in the patent picture attached to this response, was an amazing piece of engineering.  Constructed of exquisitely machined brass, with weights suspended on springs, this was a very elegant governor.   Amet must have believed this centrifugal design would produce speed regulation results far and above ball governors.  As a point of clarification, ball governors are centrifugal governors as well.  They are just executed much more simply than Amet's fist governor, the one in his patent. 

 

As his machines went into commercial production, Amet must have understood that his initial design, though elegant, was too expensive to provide an adequate return on his investment.   In other words, though superior, they did not create a sound experience worth the investment required to produce the governor.  

 

Unfortunately, Amet over compensated in simplicity.  His next governor was a two-ball design.  This design proved to produce results that were not satisfactory.  A pronounced unsteadiness in speed was the hallmark of Amet machines with a two ball governor.     Fortunately, before he was sued out of existence by the big players in the phonograph industry, Amet did produce a three ball governor that did a fine job regulating speed. 

 

Incidentally, Amet did produce a "hybrid" governor for a precious few of his machines. This hybrid is a combination of his original centrifugal design, with the addition of governor balls.  It is found on a model of coin-operated machine using Amet motor and case. 

 

Shawn 

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On 1/23/2021 at 3:57 PM, Analogous said:

But here's a question for the Forum.  Why did he develop this?  Flyball governors were in common use in many applications by 1891 and known for their reliability.  Was it to make a motor that was patentable?  I looked up the patent in Allen K's Patent History and found no indication of why Amet did this?

 

Any thoughts?

 

John 

 

 

I too have mulled over why the earliest talking machine motors avoided flyball governors.  There must have been a good reason that Amet, Greenhill, Montross, and others failed to employ flyball governors in early phonograph motors.  I don't know what that reason was, but there's a definite pattern there.  The Louis Glass motor incorporated a flyball governor, as did the Edison Water Motor Phonograph.  I don't understand why the design wasn't immediately embraced by others.

 

George P.

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Analogous

Thanks Shawn and George.  All grist for the mill.  

 

It's occurred to me that Amet felt the need for a massive governor, hence the transition to the large two-ball design.  Someone with more knowledge of engineering history would know if this is plausible or if governor engineering was fully understood then.

 

Shawn's comment about engineering excellence is certainly evident in his motor construction.  But then, it's interesting that he explored the low-cost route with the Echophone. Then again, Bettini did the same thing with his design of the Lyrophone (Puck)!

 

John

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