New Departure Manufacturing Company


1931 New Departure poster

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Written by Bill Bowman

New Departure Bell Company was formed in 1888 by brothers Albert and Edward Rockwell in Bristol, Connecticut as a manufacturer of doorbells. They began operations at one end of a clock factory, manufacturing doorbells. Soon after, they branched out manufacturing various other products.

In 1898, New Departure introduced the bicycle coaster brake and in 1903 they also began making brakes for belt and chain-driven motorcycles. Large quantities of bicycle front and rear wheel hubs were produced.

In 1904, the Rockwells produced an automobile and then in 1907, the Rockwell Taxi Cab. In 1911, the automobile production ceased. In 1912, Albert organized the Yellow Cab Company, which went into receivership in 1913.

In 1908, New Departure developed the double row bearing capable of handling both radial and thrust loads from either direction and in 1909 obtained a patent for it. In 1910, the company developed the angular contact or Radax single row bearing that took radial loads, as well as thrust loads from one direction.

In 1916, New Departure, Hyatt Roller Bearing, Westom-Mott Axle, Remy Electric Company, Perriman Rim Company and Dayton Engineering Laboratories were purchased by William Durant, president of General Motors, and put under the United Motors Corporation name with Alfred Sloan as President. In 1918, General Motors acquired United Motors outright with Sloan becoming a GM Vice President and in 1923 he became the President of General Motors.

During World War II, New Departure produced ultra precision instrument bearings that were used in the Norden Bombsight, one of the U.S. Air Forces most powerful weapons. In the 1950s, New Departure invented the Roller Clutch used in automatic transmissions, allowing for smoother shifting.

In 1965, General Motors merged the New Departure Division and the Hyatt Roller Bearing Division into the New Departure-Hyatt Bearing Division.

In 1986, New Departure-Hyatt Bearing exited the commercial ball bearing business, retaining only the ultra-precision aircraft engine bearing segment.

In 1989, New Departure-Hyatt Bearing Division and Delco Moraine Division were merged to create Delco Moraine-NDH Division.

In 1992, the Delco Moraine-NDH Division merged with Delco Products and became Delco Chassis Division.

In 1993, the aircraft bearing operation was discontinued ending the era of bearing manufacture.

Today, New Departure and Hyatt are brands owned and sold by General Bearing Company of New York.

Click here to view excerpt from Delco Moraine New Departure-Hyatt Presentation booklet

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