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Tue, 07.23.1872

The Lubricator Cup is Patented by a Black Man

Lubricator Cupdesign patent

*On this date in 1872, Black inventor Elijah McCoy patented the Lubricator Cup. The device dripped small amounts of oil onto moving engine parts, saving businesses time and money—patent #129,843.

It was used with steam engines. A hollow tube projected down from the bottom of the cup into a steam chamber. There was a valve at the top end of the tube and a piston at the lower end. Steam in the cylinder activated the piston, releasing the oil. A year later, McCoy improved on his original model so that oil was released only when there was no longer steam in the chamber.

Machinery buyers insisted on buying McCoy lubrication systems when purchasing new machines and would take nothing less than what became known as The Real McCoy. The inventor’s automatic oiling devices became so universal that no heavy-duty machine was considered adequate without it, and the expression became part of American culture.


Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators
By James Michael Brodie
Copyright 1993, by Bill Adler Books, Inc.
William Morrow and Co. Inc., New York
ISBN 0-688-11536-5

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