M. W. Kellogg Hydraulic Slide Rule

From at least the early 20th century, engineers designed special slide rules for calculations relating to the flow of liquids and gases. This ten-inch, one-sided white plastic linear slide rule is marked: COPYRIGHT 1946 JESSER, BRANSCOMBE, WIANT AND CAWLEY. It is also marked: HYDRAULIC SLIDE RULE and THE M. W. KELLOGG COMPANY. The top of the base has scales labeled A and B. The A scale runs from 3 to 3,000 and is marked G. P. M. AT 60° F. The B scale has three sets of numbers (from 1 to 1,000; from 100 to 100,000; and from 1,000 to 1,000,000) and is marked: B-1 FT. PER SEC (/) B-2-B.P.D. AT 60° F. (/) B-3 LB. PER HR. The bottom of the base has scales labeled H and J, for changes in pressure computed for liquids and for vapors.
The front of the slide has various scales for the density and velocity of vapors, with various scales for the expansion of liquids in different sizes of pipe on the back. The back of the rule contains detailed instructions for calculations of velocity and of pressure drop for both liquids and vapors. The indicator is glass with white plastic edges. One edge is marked KEUFFEL & ESSER CO. The other edge is marked PATENT 2,086,502. Keuffel & Esser of New York introduced this indicator on its rules in 1936 and patented it in 1937. As this example suggests, the indicator was also widely used as a replacement part and added to rules made by other companies. See also MA*318480, 1981.0933.05, and 1999.0254.01.
M. W. Kellogg Company of New York City was a firm founded in 1901 that specialized in oil refining and the design of pipes. From 1944 it underwent several acquisitions and name changes until it merged with Brown & Root in 1998. It separated from parent company Halliburton in 2007 to be known as KBR. According to the donor, Nicholas Grossman, the instrument was developed by the Kellogg Company "for in-house use to calculate fluid flow, pressure drop, friction factors, etc. in connection with the design calculations of petrochemical process equipment. According to my best knowledge, this was never marketed, and about 100 slide rules were issued to the engineering staff. Naturally, with the advent of electronic calculators these slide rules became obsolete, and this one rightfully belongs in the Smithsonian." Of the four designers mentioned on the object, at least Benn Wainwright Jesser (1915–2011) and John Ambrose Cawley (1919–1989) graduated from Princeton and worked for M. W. Kellogg after World War II. The other designers were George Howard Branscombe and Isaac Joseph Wiant.
References: Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries: Works of Art, Etc., 3rd ser., 1, no. 1 (1947): 39; Who's Who in Engineering (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1954), 1231; "John Ambrose Cawley '42," Princeton Alumni Weekly (May 16, 1990), http://paw.princeton.edu/memorials/76/71/index.xml; accession file.
Currently not on view
Object Name
slide rule
date made
M. W. Kellogg Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
glass (cursor material)
metal (part material)
overall: .3 cm x 27.8 cm x 4.2 cm; 1/8 in x 10 15/16 in x 1 21/32 in
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Rule, Calculating
Slide Rules
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Slide Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Nicholas Grossman
Additional Media

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