John  E. Chambers

          American industry is undoubtedly progressive, but in its progress it always has to overcome that inertia which clogs every human undertaking.  Manufacturers as well as the general public are too well satisfied with conditions as they are.  They have constantly to be goaded by inquiring and inventive minds of men not satisfied with the policy of let-well-enough-alone, and after a new process has been demonstrated as more efficient, then the task remains for the public to be educated to the dollars and cents saving or profit to be obtained by the use of the new process.
          A good many years ago  John E. Chambers  was interested in the manufacture of incubators.  He was also attracted to that simple device, originated by  Edward Atkinson  more than forty years ago, long known as the "fireless cooker."  In both the incubator and the fireless cooker the essential feature is insulation which retains heat as the indispensable element in hatching eggs and in cooking food.  America has been a country so abundantly supplied with natural resources that it has gone on generation after generation cheerfully wasting each as well as other natural resources, but for the past thirty years conservation has been an idea growing yearly more potent and thousands of engineers in hundreds of laboratories have been steadily working over means of more economical utilization of heat and getting more energy in proportion to the consumption of fuel.  The old types of heating apparatus and cook stoves were chiefly heat wasters, accomplishing their essential purpose at an extravagant cost of fuel.
          Mr. Chambers limited his studies and experiments to one special field, the gas range.  He applied the fireless cooker idea not only to the oven but to the concentration and prolonged use of the heat generated on the top of the range.  His ovens he insulated on all six sides with thicknesses of mineral wool, so that when heat is introduced into the oven it stays there until its job is done.  He invented the "thermodome," which in simple terms is an insulated cover that comes down over utensils on top of the stove and after the contents are once started cooking they continue to cook under the protection of the thermodome for a long time, just as cooking was carried on in the old-fashioned fireless cooker.
          Out of this, told here very briefly but really constituting a long series of experiments and a big task of business building, has come the Chambers Manufacturing Company of Shelbyville, of which Mr. Chambers is the president.  The business was started in 1912, as the Chambers Manufacturing Company, Inc., with John E. Chambers, president,  Albert de Prez, vice president;  Dr. Samuel Kennedy, secretary,  E. A. Chambers, treasurer.  The company is now one of the ten largest exclusive gas range manufacturing plants in the United States.  The complete product is manufactured in the Shelbyville plant.  The insulating material is an Indiana product, shipped in car lots.  The plant comprises sheet metal fabricating departments, machine shops, porcelain plant, electro plate department, japaning department and assembling and shipping department.  The industry covers nine and one-half acres of ground, has 250 people employed and the ranges are shipped and sold allover the United States and are exported to nineteen foreign countries.  There are eighteen district managers over the United States, and two big retail stores are operated, one at Indianapolis and the other at Baltimore.  The company is a local Shelbyville corporation, controlled by the business and professional men of that city, who were for the most part the original incorporators.
          The Chambers gas ranges were awarded the grand prize at the International Exposition at Paris in 1928.  The efficiency of the range has been demonstrated under the severest tests and has been endorsed by many great institutions, including hospitals, hotels, apartment houses as well as countless numbers of private homes.  Under the exact and certified measurements of disinterested laboratories and institutes the Chambers ranges have demonstrated completely a fuel saving over ordinary ranges of approximately one-half and at the same time, by the conservation of prolonged application of heat, have produced more wholesome food, with less loss and waste.  The basic idea in the original Chambers ranges was a heat conservation on the principle of the fireless cooker, and a later improvement was the "autostat" control, which not only controls the temperature but shuts the gas off completely at exactly the right time to take advantage of the range's insulation.
          The founder and originator of this industry, Mr. John E. Chambers, is a native of Iowa.  He finished his education in Dennison University in Ohio.  For four years he was connected with an industry for the manufacture of optical goods.  He has been a resident of Shelbyville since 1904, and later founded his present business.  Mr. I. W. Scott, who joined the company in 1916, has advanced through various positions of responsibility to that of treasurer and general manager.
INDIANA ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS OF AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT,  Vol. 3, By Charles Roll, A.M., The Lewis Publishing Company, 1931
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming

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