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THE ROLLER MILL PATENT, 156 U. S. 261 (1895)

U.S. Supreme Court

The Roller Mill Patent, 156 U.S. 261 (1895)

The Roller Mill Patent

No. 70

Argued November 12, 1894

Decided February 4, 1895

156 U.S. 261


The invention protected by letters patent No. 222,895, issued December 23, 1879, to William D. Gray for improvements in roller mills, is not infringed by the machine used by the defendant in error.

Letters patent No. 238,677, issued March 8, 1881, to William D. Gray for improvements in roller mills, are void for want of novelty.

This was a bill in equity filed by the Consolidated Roller-Mill Company against the Barnard & Leas Manufacturing Company for the infringement of four letters patent for certain improvements in roller mills, viz.: Patent No. 222,895, issued December 23, 1879, to William D. Gray; patent No.

Page 156 U. S. 262

238,677, issued March 8, 1881, to the same person; reissue patent No. 10, 139, issued June 20, 1882, to U. H. Odell; patent No. 269,623, issued December 26, 1882, to Hans Birkholz. As plaintiff asked for a decree only upon the Gray patents, the others will not be further noticed.

The invention covered by patent No. 222,895

"consists in a peculiar construction and arrangement of devices for adjusting the rolls vertically as will as horizontally, whereby any unevenness in the wear of the rolls or their journals or bearings may be compensated for, and the grinding or crushing surface kept exactly in line."

In his specification, the patentee states that

"in the use of roller mills, it is found that the roller bearings wear unequally at opposite ends, and also that they wear more rapidly on the under than on the upper side, and that consequently the rolls lose their parallelism and their proper vertical height. It is to overcome these difficulties that the present invention is designed, and to this end the parts are constructed and arranged as represented in the accompanying drawings,"

the most important one of which is here given.


Page 156 U. S. 263

The mill shown and described in the patent consisted substantially of the frame, A, the roller, B, revolving in fixed bearings, and the companion roller, C, journaled at its ends, and revolving in a swinging arm or support, D, pivoted at its lower end upon a bolt, E, thus enabling the roll to be swung towards or away from the stationary roll, B, as required. In order that the arm or support, D, might be adjusted vertically, and the roll, C, thereby lifted or lowered, the bolt, E, was mounted upon an eccentric sleeve, F, such sleeve being furnished with a suitable head to receive a wrench by which to adjust it.

"By turning the sleeve, F, the arm may be moved up or down as desired, and when the adjustment has been made, the sleeve is clamped firmly in place by means of the bolt, E, which draws its end against the main frame, the sleeve then becoming the pivot or journal on which the arms or supports, D, move when being adjusted horizontally."

To provide for an adjustment of the rollers to and from each other horizontally, a rod, G, was extended from the stationary bearing, a, at each side of the machine to the upper end of the swinging arm or support, D, on the same side. The upper end of each arm or swinging box, D, is formed with an enlarged spring case or chamber, h, perforated on its inner side to permit the passage of the rod or stem, G, through it, a strong spring, H, being placed in said chamber, and retained therein by means of a washer or plate, i, placed upon the rod and held against the spring by a wheel nut, j, which screws upon the threaded end of the rod or bolt, G, and is in turn held by a jam nut, k. By turning the nut wheel, j, the spring, H, is compressed, the roll, C, is crowded towards the roll, B, and at the same time the bearing, D, is held firmly against the nut, l, and the additional jam nut, m. The spring, H, is designed to permit the swinging roller to give way, in case a stone or nail or other hard substance is caught between the rolls, after the passage of which the roll, with the aid of the spring, returns at once to its place.

To permit the ready separation of the rolls, the end of the rod, G, where it passes through the fixed bearing, a, has a shoulder, n, abutting against such bearing, and acting as a

Page 156 U. S. 264

stop. On the other side of the bearing is a nut, O, threaded on the rod, G. By releasing or partially turning off the nut, O, the roll, C, is allowed to fall back, and move away from the roll, B; but by again turning up the nut the shoulder, n, is brought back accurately to its original position. An eccentric is shown in Fig. 8 as an equivalent of the nut O.

Plaintiff claimed an infringement of the fourth, fifth, and sixth claims of this patent, which were as follows:

"4. In combination with the movable roller bearing, the rod, G, adjustable stop device to limit the inward movement of the bearing, an outside spring urging the bearing inward, and adjusting devices, substantially as shown, to regulate the tension of the spring."

"5. In combination with the roller bearing, the adjusting rod provided at one end with a stop to limit the inward movement, a spring, and means for adjusting the latter, and provided at the other end with a stop and holding device, substantially as shown and described."

"6. The combination of the bearing, D, rod, G, nut, l, spring, H, nut, j, stop, n, and nut, O."


Patent No. 238,677 exhibits a roller mill substantially identical with that of the former patent except in the spreading device, which consists of an eccentric shaft carrying two eccentrics, by which the two ends of the roll are spread at one motion. Each of these shafts is provided with an arm, to which a rod is connected, so that the moving rod simultaneously moved both ends of the movable rolls.

The patentee states the operation of his device as follows:

"By moving the rod, K, which may be done from either side of the machine, all the eccentrics are operated simultaneously,

Page 156 U. S. 265

and the movable rolls thrown instantly into or out of an operative position, and this without destroying the adjustment of the parts which control the exact position of rolls when they are in action."

Plaintiff relies only upon the infringement of the second and third claims, which are as follows:

"2. In combination with the swinging roll supports, E, and the rods, G, connected therewith, the eccentrics, H, shafts, I, and rod, K."

"3. In combination with movable roll supports, E, and the rods, G, adjustably connected thereto, a transverse shaft, I, provided with two eccentrics connected to the rods, G at opposite ends of one roll, whereby the roll may be thrown into and out of action instantly, without changing the adjusting devices."

Upon a hearing in the circuit court upon pleadings and proofs, the bill was dismissed, and plaintiff appealed.

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