top of page

Herbert Francis Dalglish


(1911 - 1987) "I don’t mess around with anything that won’t make money." This philosophy guided Dalglish to a highly successful career as a nuts-and-bolts independent inventor and entrepreneurial trouble-shooter. A prolific inventor, he accumulated 166 patents in many fields. His inventions range from his first, a knit bag for holding wieners and sausages, to improvements in lawn mowers, medical conveniences, military hardware, remote sensing devices, medical devices, material handling equipment; from aircraft ejection seats to heat-sensitive cables that detect insect infestations in grain elevators, temperature indicators for oil storage tanks, and material-handling equipment (such as dual use transports for carrying liquid cargo one way and dry cargo on the return trip); from devices that modernized web-fed printing presses, to valves and a wide variety of industrial machinery and processes.

During World War II, he inventions included an aluminum support system for military floating bridges, high-pressure cast-steel valves for Navy ships, a high strength aluminum coupling to join sections of pipeline used during the D-Day invasion of Europe to carry fuel across Europe, and cast-steel anchor chains - all of which enabled the Dalglish Company, which by then was exploring uses for new metals and alloys, to win 173 military contracts worth $178 million. He did his own lobbying, once telling the Secretary of the Navy exactly how to describe a Dalglish invention in order to have the contract approved.

A brief description of several of several of his inventions demonstrates his ingenuity and their complexity. High pressure cast steel valves were greatly needed. He invented crumble cores that crumbled as soon as the metal had set. Rudders for Maritime T2 tankers were not available anywhere. These pieces weighed 15,000 to 18,000 pounds each. He devised a new way to weld these very complex shapes. Anchor chain for the large naval ships was being manufactured by one company, which had a monopoly on the process. The cast steel units needed to be formed together in 90 foot lengths and proof tested for very high loads of 400,000 to 600,000 pounds. He invented and build the proof testing unit as well as manufacturing thousands of tons of chain.

In 1943, the Dalglish Company was awarded 41 prime contracts for Caterpillar Tractor parts. Track links must be very hard on their face and ductile to take shock in their bodies. The company was required to deliver finished parts in six month, but the hardening equipment was not available for two years. He invented and obtained a patent on a process for track components to be assembled and drawn under a long concentration of pressurized gas jets under ½ inch of water which was circulated to keep it cool. The metal was red. The quench was quick.

As the Allied invasion (D-Day) was becoming a certainty, the U.S. Army realized there was a serious shortage in cast steel couplings for the 6 inch pipeline that would used to transport the fuel. Malleable iron foundries to manufacture the couplings were in short supply and there was not sufficient capacity to fill the need. Dalglish invented and patented heavy duty aluminum couplings and the process for high speed machining of the parts. They were delivered in time to be used during the Allied drive to victory through Europe.

Bailey Bridges and the equipment necessary to erect them were in demand to cross rivers in Germany. The M4 Aluminum Floating Bridges were designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Dalglish invented an aluminum transverse stiffener, which is a support system for the bridge sections. He also invented an impact extrusion, the headpiece for a 20-foot projectile used during the war to blow up tunnels. Dalglish said his work for the government during World War II "appealed to the James Bond in me."

After the war ended the company retooled and became a leading lawn mower manufacturer. His nine lawn mower patents included five cost reducing manufacturing processes. Dalglish said his biggest contribution has been his bug detector system for grain elevators (a device that detects heat from multiplying insects in grain silos - the key to determining whether the stored grain is becoming spoiled). Knowing that the body heat of multiplying bugs would raise the temperature in the elevator, he dropped a cable with heat measuring devices every five feet down a grain elevator. His grain elevator heat sensing device has helped to keep grain elevators bug-free since 1952, and were sold worldwide. He cherished the notion that he helped feed the world population for over 30 years.

Dalglish had the vision to foresee the need for most of his inventions such that, at the time of his induction into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, only two of those he patented failed to find a commercial market, a phenomenal success rate for any inventor. One reason for his extraordinary success was his ability to combine inventiveness with salesmanship. Dalglish believed that "invention is the father of employment." He proudly said: "My greatest satisfaction is that there are 72,000 people going to work using my equipment."

bottom of page