Pressure Lamps International

State Machine Products Co (Mansfield, Ohio)
Auto Fab Manufacturing Inc (Mansfield, Ohio)
Form-Tech Inc (Mansfield, Ohio)

20 West Sixth St, Mansfield, Ohio (-1964)
433 Springmill St, Mansfield (1964 - 1980?

 

This page is primarily concerned with Auto Fab Manufacturing Co and Form Tech Inc. who were not substantive lantern manufacturers but worked with US Government contracts on the milspec lantern.

Auto Fab Machine Products and Form-Tech Inc in Mansfield, Ohio, are known for manufacturing the well known "military specification" gasoline lantern for the US Army through Defense General Supply Centre contracts, first in the mid 1960s with AFM then in 1971/2 with FT. The Military lantern, commonly referred to as the "milspec" lantern was introduced by the USA Government during WW2 and continued in production with around eight or nine different manufacturers over the next 45 years.

 

military 1967 01

1967 AFM Military Lantern

Robert Montell Schoenman (1927-2015) started the State Machine Products Co in 1960 in Mansfield, Ohio. After 4 years the name of the business changed to Auto Fab Manufacturing Co. He was later to be president of a new State Machine Products started in 1970 in Montana and relocated in 1979 to Dry Ridge, Kentucky. The new State Machine Products lived and prospered on government contracts (as had Auto Fab before, with the same president in control) and over time produced quantities of almost identical US Army lanterns. Incorporated in 1980  the Kentucky firm was listed in the top 100 fastest growing businesses between 1977 and 1981 but is now inactive.  (See separate web page for SMP Kentucky). So the roots of Auto Fab Manufacturing lay in the earlier machine shops of the earlier State Machine Products Co in the town of Mansfield, Ohio.

smpNJ24011965p80

Change of name - reported in Jan 1965

 Auto Fab Manufacturing were not established makers of lamps but for a short period in the 1960s they were among manufacturing firms who successfully bid for producing a military specification lantern for the United States Government. President and owner of the company was Robert Schoenman. In 1965 AFM was awarded a $48,000 contract with the Defense General Supply Centre in Richmond, Virginia, which enabled the company to expand and add 7000 square feet of factory space. It only employed 26 people in January 1966, so was a relatively small concern. The firm suffered a minor setback in January 1966 when 24 Payroll cheques were stolen.

President Bob Schoenman with his wife as secretary, continued to grow the company through the 1960s, as another contract for $33,400 was awarded in March 1966, and the workforce increased to 32. Further government contracts came, although the firm still appeared to be a photo-etch company making nameplates according to some of its adverts.

 

smpNJ11051966p21

News Journal May 1966

 

 

 smpNJ29011967p44

News Journal, January 1967

 A few employee names can be found from that period, Stan Packer, Jack Kennedy, and Bill Maul worked there and played golf for the company team in 1967, when there were 60 workers.  Bob Schoenman was quoted as saying "We are a flexible operation and we plan to stay that way" and goes on to  explain that the machine shop operation of Auto Fab Manufacturing allows for many types of product. Reading between the lines, so to speak, it seems that Auto Fab Manufacturing was quite a decent company that looked after its workers.

 

smpNJ13051967p6

News Journal, May 1967

All was not well though, and after the United Steel Workers Union lost a vote by workers to allow the union into the plant they proceeded to accuse the president of vote rigging. This was an ongoing matter that severely affected the company and eventually led to some workers being laid off in December through "continued harassment" by the Labor Relations Board.

 

smpNJ16111967p1

News Journal Nov 1967

 A court hearing unexpectedly found Robert Schoenman culpable, and a second vote was forced upon the workers. Once again the Union lost the vote, closer this time at 39 to 16, but the National Labor Relations Board although defeated, had done its damage.

These events may perhaps have been instrumental in the next change of name, with Auto Fab Manufacturing Co becoming Form-Tech Inc. From the newspaper reports it is known that Auto Fab Manufacturing placed far fewer adverts in 1969, and by 1970 Form-Tech Inc were advertising for workers at the same address, 433 Springmill Street.

formtechNJ16071970p34

Advert from July 1970, News-Journal, Mansfield

Form-Tech Inc manufactured the same military specification lantern for a short time only in the early 1970s, and when the contracts were fulfilled it is quite possible that Bob Schoenman decided to move some production to his Kentucky plant during these two years. He transferred up to five real estate lots to Form-Tech Inc in September 1970, and moved for dissolution of the firm in April 1971, so ending his association with the company. It was finally wound up in October 1971.

formtechNJ08111971p11

Dissolution Notice, News-Journal, 8 November 1971

 

Soon afterwards another company, Automatic Parts Inc (which had been formed back in 1956) was registered at the same address in Springmill Street, but apparently had no connection with the previous occupants.

As is often the case with company names, the Form-Tech name was re-used several times later for unrelated firms, such as the modern Form Tech Solutions, and the FormTech Prefabricated Buildings.

*********

It has been suggested in some of the collectors forums that most of the military specification lanterns by State Machine Products, Auto Fab Manufacturing and Form-Tech Inc were manufactured in the same plant but this seems not to be the case. It has also been suggested that some of the manufacturing was undertaken in prisons, or by prisoners working in separate factories, but this is disputed in other reports and does not seem to be very probable.

 

References

News Journal (Mansfield) 24 January 1965 p80

News Journal (Mansfield) 6 January 1966 p39

News Journal (Mansfield) 18 March 1966 p7

News Journal (Mansfield) 11 May 1966 p21

News Journal (Mansfield) 16 November 1967 p1

News Journal (Mansfield) 7 March 1968 p8

Grant County News, 2 March 2015

News Journal (Mansfield) 16 July 1970 p34

News Journal (Mansfield) 27 September 1970 p48

 

Addendum:
 
Other manufacturers of the military specification lantern include many well known names, dates given here are approximate.
 
Manufacturer Production Years (Approximate)
Akron Lamp & Mnf Co 1944
American Gas Machine Co 1944, 1945 and 1951
Armstrong Products 1977 and 1978
Auto Fab Manufacturing 1967
Coleman Lamp Co.
1944, 1945, 1952-61, 1963-69, 1973-76, and 1979
Form-Tech Inc 1971 and 1972
King Seely (Thermos) 1963
State Machine Products Inc 1980 to 1991
   
   

 

Lamps for Sale

 If you have a lamp or lantern for sale you can advertise it here, free of charge. Just send a couple of photos and your location details. There are no hidden costs, I'll just pass on any inquiries and then you arrange the sale yourself. To avoid problems it's much better that buyer and seller arrange to meet and agree the sale, as I can't be responsible for lost packages or failed payments! If you can't meet, then always use shipping methods with signed-for delivery. ************** Here ...

Spotted

This is where you can display a photo of a pressure lamp spotted in an unexpected place. (Actually, some places might be expected, so send the photos in anyway)   A couple of Petromax lanterns in amongst the baking produce at Smith's Farm Shop, Chapel Brampton Rushden Railway Museum, Sept 2016 The lamp collection at Rushden, no BR49 there!                    x

United Factories

Pressure Lamps International United Factories Co (Kansas City) 1316 1330 1332 1385 McGee Street, Kansas City (1908)1028 Wyandotte Street, Kansas City (1909)1841 Factory Building, Kansas City (1909)809 & 1043 Factory Building, Kansas City (1909)404 Goden & Keppel Building, Kansas   The North Carolina Advocate of 23 January 1908 describes (on p7) a new way for manufacturers to get their goods into the hands of consumers without "burdensome profits being tacked on by jobbers, ...

Foote Mfg

Pressure Lamps International Foote Mfg CoLiberty Lamp Co Dayton, Ohio, USA   It appears that the Foote Manufacturing Co operated out of Dayton, Ohio for only a relatively short time. Terry Marsh shows several of their lamps on his web site, and reports that the company existed from 1908 to 1917. You can see these at this location: Terry Marsh US Lamp Manufacturers A - F.   The earliest advertisements seem to be around 1908/9, then they continue for several years, when one ...

Recent Changes

Please be patient, this website is undergoing some major surgery. Some of the most recent changes are listed below. November 2016 Some corrections across the site, with new pages added. Auto Fab Mnf and Form Tech Inc. Also Foote Mfg Co (Liberty Lamp Co), State Machine Products and Armstrong Products Co.  Some links removed and repaired. For Sale updated. October 2016. Several new pages added, including the American Lighting Co., Doud Lighting, the Sun Vapor Light Co.  ...