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Robert Luthy

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Robert Luthy (1840-1883) of Hick, Hargreaves and Co

1884 Obituary [1]

ROBERT LUTHY, born at Solothurn in Switzerland on 24th September 1840, was the youngest son but one in a family of twenty-one children, his father, Victor Luthy, being a veterinary surgeon.

At an early age he showed a great liking and aptitude for mechanics; and after having passed through the schools of his native town, in which he received instruction in mechanics, mechanical drawing, mathematics, and kindred subjects, he was placed with the proprietor of a repairing establishment for smaller kinds of machines, clocks, and other articles. He thus acquired a practical knowledge of every detail of the machines and other objects under repair; and soon showed remarkable skill in handling tools, and also in working and shaping tin-plate and other sheet metal, continuing meanwhile to attend technical classes.

At the age of sixteen he entered the engineering works of Messrs. Sulzer Brothers, Winterthur, where during the four years of his stay he received a thorough practical training, both in the drawing office and in the workshops, still continuing to attend evening classes in mechanics, mathematics, and other subjects.

Early in 1862 he came to London, and at the close of the exhibition of that year was engaged as draughtsman by Messrs. R. and L. R. Bodmer.

Some eighteen months later he entered the service of Messrs. Hick Hargreaves and Co. of Bolton, with whom he continued until his death, which took place on 3rd July 1884, at the age of forty-three.

In the year 1863 he designed a hydraulic cotton-packing press, and a year or two later a variety of hydraulic balanced-valves; and in 1868 he brought out a new construction of hydraulic balanced-valve, which has been largely used in steel works and by makers of hydraulic machinery in this country and abroad. Along with Mr. Hick he carried out a series of experiments on the friction of leather collars used in hydraulic presses; and his name is mentioned as an authority on this subject by Rankine.

About 1876, when Messrs. Hick Hargreaves and Co. commenced the manufacture of cold-air machines for freezing and preserving meat, Mr. Luthy carried out a series of experiments at their works in Bolton, to determine the efficiency of cold-air machines on the system of injecting cold water into the compression cylinders, and of machines without injection, in which the air is cooled by contact with cold surfaces. He also carried out experiments on the efficiency of heat-exchangers in these machines, and to ascertain the quantity of heat transmitted through walls of different thicknesses and of different materials, used for insulating the cold rooms to contain frozen meat in ships and in stores.

In June 1883 he went to Australia on business connected with the shipping of frozen meat, and to inspect the machinery made in Bolton for a large freezing establishment there.

After an absence of a little more than a year he got back to Bolton apparently in good health on the evening of 2nd July 1884; but his death took place very suddenly from heart disease early next morning.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1878.

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