Rome Historical Society

Rome-Turney Radiator Company
Records Collection

1905 - 1933

Guide Compiled By:
Kathleen J. Hynes-Bouska
July 23, 1998

200 Church Street, Rome, New York 13440
Telephone: (315)336-5870



Ro-Fin Tube AdThe company was started in Rome, NY in 1905 by George Turney and Joseph B. Long, who was President of the Long Radiator Company in Chicago. This company was brought here by a group of local shareholders to provide an end use for copper, which was one of Rome's major industries and from which fin tubing for radiators was completely constructed. The company utilized the Long patented machinery for making a crimp based fin tubing used in the manufacture of radiators for early automobiles. During the early years of the company Long Turney Radiator paid a royalty to Long for using his patent, however, it was actually George Turney who ran the company as General Manager. This continued until 1908 when the company obtained the manufacturing right for a process that General Electric developed in Schenactady for making a Flat Helical Wound Fin tube, at which time they parted ways with Joseph Long and renamed the company the Rome-Turney Radiator Company. During this same year, they also obtained the right to manufacture Mercedes type radiators from Germany in the United States. It was this type of radiator that was used in the early automobiles and airplanes and it was the helically wound fin tube radiators that were used for industrial type machinery such as tractors, trucks and later diesel engines. The first location of the company was where the McMahon & Larkin Law Offices were until they purchased the former Bingham Harness Company on the Erie Canal in the heart of Rome, a structure which dated from at least the time of the Civil War. It is in this building that they still have their head offices and part of their operation today. This was also where the records were stored in the attic of this structure.

The first employee hired was William Lynch in October 1905 who acted as their Bookkeeper. It was Mr. Lynch, the donor's father, who kept and organized the records in this collection and eventually transferred them from file cabinets in the main offices to boxes in storage in the attic. William Lynch was born in Rome on October 24, 1884 and graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1903. He had been accepted to attend Medical School at Syracuse University, however his father had just put his older brother through the American University at Rome, Italy and he could not afford to send another child away to school. Instead he began working at the Farmer's Bank in July 1903 where he continued until joining the Long Turney Radiator Company. After starting as a bookkeeper, Mr. Lynch later became involved in sales and then was promoted to secretary and treasurer of the company. Around 1920 Rome Hollow Wire took over the company because it had been struggling financially for years. During this period, Mr. Lynch left the company for nine months. He had acquired stock since he began there and while away from the Company he arranged to purchase it, which he did in 1921. He continued as President of Rome-Turney Radiator until 1965 when his son, William Lynch Jr. took over the position although Mr. Lynch Sr. continued to assist with the business until his death in 1973.

Another employee who had an impact in the company and on these records was John Boylan. Boylan was born in Rome on October 31, 1884 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1903 until 1907. He started with the company after his return to Rome doing the technical drawings for the radiators and eventually became head of manufacturing. He was with the company for 52 years working there right until the day he died. He was known for his meticulousness in his work, habits and time-keeping. His penmanship on the drawings was perfect with every letter being identical in shape and size. He owned a few shares in the company also, however after he passed away, Mr. Lynch Sr. purchased these shares back making the Lynch family the sole shareholders as they continue to be today.

From 1905 until 1933, one of the major products of this company was radiators for automobiles, airplanes, trucks, tractors and by 1930 also some dirigibles. In the early years, automobile manufacturers would purchase their radiators from independent companies such as Rome-Turney Radiator, however, by 1908 the trend was changing and they wanted their own plants. Rome-Turney Radiator was asked to join the newly formed General Motors but they refused as they desired to remain independent. As a result of this, by the early 1920s Rome-Turney was forced to begin concentrating more on the construction of helical fin tubing for large heat exchange units for industry. General Electric was one of their big clients from the beginning and by 1923 they were expanding and had taken on Westinghouse. By 1933, Rome-Turney Radiator was for all intents and purposes no longer manufacturing Mercedes type radiators for automobiles and airplanes.

In its heyday of making radiators, Rome-Turney employed over four hundred men as this industry was very labor intensive and required a great deal of hand work to shape the various components. Literally forty percent of production costs were labor. The factory ran twelve hours a day, six days a week at first and later the employees were given a half-day on Saturdays. Employees were local men that were trained on the job as this was a very specialized industry.

The Mercedes type radiators that they produced were made of copper strip with lead solder and the final product was painted black and stamped with the company logo. Radiators dating from 1905 to early 1908 are stamped Long Turney Radiator, while those from 1908 on are stamped Rome-Turney Radiator. These radiators had water circulated through them to cool the engines and would have to be refilled numerous times on lengthy trips or on large hills. They were however repairable, which was important because road conditions were quite rough and stones flying up would damage them. Besides the companies that ordered radiators for their vehicles there were also many requests from dealerships, repair shops, and individuals for repairs to radiators.

The largest contracts for Rome-Turney came from Buick Motor Company , Oakland Motor Car Company, Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, U.S. Government, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation, General Electric Company, Hurlburt Motor Truck Company, Sanford Motor Truck Company, Olds Motor Works, Caterpillar Tractors, Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, C.L. Best Tractor Company, Lozier Motor Company, Linn Tractor Company Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Corporation, Frigidaire Corporation and the Ford Motor Company. Buick, General Electric and the U.S. Government were some of their largest customers in the early years and Pierce-Arrow continued to be a customer of theirs throughout the period. Rome-Turney produced all the radiators for Curtiss airplanes in World War I, including the famous Curtiss Jenny as well as producing radiators for trucks for the U.S. Army. They also manufactured the massive radiators for Goodyear-Zeppelin for their airships (dirigibles) that they built for the U.S. Navy's U.S.S. Akron and U.S.S. Shenandoah.

Many antique automobiles in operation today, such as early Buicks and Pierce-Arrows, still have the original Rome-Turney Radiator. The company had examples of many of their radiators, unfortunately they had to sell them for scrap during World War II to barter for copper which was in very short supply. Rome-Turney still has the equipment at their factory to make Mercedes type radiators, however they no longer have people trained to work on them.

The donor of this collection, Mr. William Lynch Jr. was born on January 16, 1932 in Rome and was a graduate of Rome Free Academy and Canterbury School in Connecticut. From there he studied Engineering at Notre Dame and almost completed his Masters when he decided to study for a Masters of Business at the Tuck School of Dartmouth. After completing this he started full-time at Rome-Turney and later became President in 1965 when his father retired.


Rome-Turney Radiators records covering the period 1905-1933 were transferred to the Rome Historical Society from the attic of the main office and factory building at the company on Canal Street in Rome on January 7, 1998. The period of these records reflects the scope of which Rome-Turney was building radiators for automobiles, trucks, planes and tractors. After this time the company made strictly heat exchange units and discontinued producing Mercedes type radiators. Some additional material was located in the attic and other parts of the offices and brought to the Society between February and June of 1998. This material was interfiled into the existing series. The records were processed into three series to reflect the character of the documents. These series are I)Correspondence, II) Financial and Business Records, and III) Technical which includes the blueprints and drawings.

The boxes which contained the records were covered in coal dust as the Main Line of the New York Central ran behind the factory. The documents were cleaned as much as possible, however parts of the collection have only been partially processed, which is especially true of the drawings. The drawings were randomly grouped, so to make it easier for researchers we alphabetized them the way the blueprints had been basically stored. Some Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation correspondence was removed by a researcher while the records were still at Rome-Turney. We had already processed that part of the correspondence from which it was removed before we received them so we therefore had to place these documents in their own sub-series in the correspondence. The 1907-10 incoming correspondence was boxed out of sequence because we did not locate the second half of that year until the collection was almost completed. There was also a group of photographs in the technical collection which was removed and placed in our photographic collection. Otherwise original order was always followed. It was William Lynch Sr. who kept, organized and placed the records in the attic at the factory and all paper items were saved including scrap pieces with scratch notes.


The records of the Rome-Turney Radiator Company include correspondence, copies of outgoing letters and incoming, telegrams; financial records, invoices, both incoming and outgoing, financial ledgers, purchasing department letters, purchase orders and requisitions, quotations records, cheque receipts, factory price lists of their radiators for vehicles of the 1920s, companies they did business with, factory expense records, production cost analysis records; production records, shop orders, shop inventory, miscellaneous shop notes, stock supply books, shipping orders; employee records, payroll books, rates of pay, labor cost figures, list of men in rolling mills, pay notes, job applications, employees who participated in Liberty and War Bonds, miscellaneous notes and an employee records book; publications, publications that Rome-Turney received and was in, blank Rome-Turney forms, advertisement proofs for Rome-Turney, examples of ads for Rome-Turney, other companies' ads, Motor and Accessory Publications; technical records, patents for various auto radiators, parts for radiators, and machinery to make radiators, technical specifications for making radiators, technical calculations for building radiators, blueprints including company mock-ups, and drawings used by the shop to build the radiators.


SERIES I: CORRESPONDENCE, 1905 -1933. 116 Volumes, Range 1, Boxes 1 - 93.

Second copies of outgoing letters, bound in 116 volumes for early years, later boxed in alphabetical order and then chronological order, letters are short and business like in tone and relate to such topics as giving quotes, when orders will be completed, addresses complaints, makes requests to suppliers for quotes, solicit business, thank you and courtesy letters, requests for samples of products, complaints to other companies, stockholders and annual meetings notices, requests for accounts payable and receivable, and deal with deliveries; incoming letters boxed in alphabetical order by folder by one to three year increments, these letters from companies and individuals to Rome-Turney cover similar topics to the outgoing letters but from the perspective of other companies, also includes response letters from Rome-Turney, many early letters acted like an invoice, letter-sized copies of blueprints attached to letters from companies requesting quotes or work done, samples from companies, such as brass, paper, cloth, advertising from other companies and from Rome-Turney, notices of bankruptcies of companies and information on how Rome-Turney could get what was owed them or what their loss would be, telegrams, shop orders, shipping orders, receipts for shipping, requests from individuals to repair their radiators, personal letters from employees or people such as future President, Warren G. Harding (7-2) to George Turney or William Lynch Sr., requests from organizations to support them (such as the vote for women), some purchase orders, pencilled notes on incoming letters as to how responded or when order was sent out, often some letters were filed under the signature rather than the company name, also there are some folders that contain job applications (4-20, 15-3, 47-1, 49-2, 50-29), a letter from the employees (49-2) and payroll (98-8); Buick incoming and some outgoing letters, correspondence from the company to Rome-Turney, many personal from David Dunbar Buick and William Crapo Durant to George Turney, includes discussions of orders, costs, problems with radiators, some complaints, specifications, changes desired to design or order, requests for repairs, thank yous for a job well done, some outgoing letters and pencilled notes on incoming letters as to how they responded or when an order was sent out to Buick, telegrams, invoices, similar in composition to other correspondence; Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation incoming letters and some outgoing letters, similar to other correspondence, incoming from many branches of Curtiss, telegrams, bills, purchase orders, shipping orders, letters pertaining to Curtiss Flying Boat; Long Manufacturing Company of Chicago, mostly incoming letters, deals with manufacture of radiators, instructions for Long Turney Radiator Company, issues of confusion between the two radiator companies by other companies, discussion of forming of Long Turney in Rome and who will be in charge, advertisement for truck for which they made a radiator and general letters from Long to Turney; Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, incoming letters, some telegrams, discussing condition and shipment of radiators and acknowledgments of shipping orders, purchase orders with small 8 by 10 blueprints attached; telegrams, copies of outgoing from Rome-Turney, originally bound with screws and covers, in the early years these were included in the correspondence.


Subseries 1: 1906 - 1933. Boxes 94 - 126.

Subseries 2: 1909 - 1933. Boxes 127 - 143.

Invoices are mostly incoming with some outgoing for most of the early years that were filed alphabetically by year or two year increments in boxes, in later years they were only outgoing copies that were filed chronologically by year, kept in reverse order and were bound between two hard covers; incoming invoices, many had company letterhead and concern what Rome-Turney purchased and what they owed, outgoing invoices on a standard Rome-Turney form deal with what other companies owe for their orders, repairs and shipping; Buick invoices, incoming and outgoing, financial matters between the two companies; Oakland Motor Car Company, consists of invoices, incoming and outgoing, credit memorandums, letters both incoming and outgoing, repair orders from Rome-Turney, mostly financial information; Rome Copper and Brass Company, mostly incoming, some outgoing pertaining to copper and copper products Rome-Turney purchased to make radiators; financial, financial ledgers bound, costs and figures for the company, payroll figures and labor costs; purchasing department letters, copies of outgoing letters filed alphabetically from purchasing department to companies that Rome-Turney deals with about financial matters; financial documents, purchase orders, standard form that lists items needed, amount, cost, part of the factory requesting it and signed by an employee; purchase requisitions, filed chronologically from departments within company, asking the company to place an order for them; quotation records, lists the price of copper tubing, how much they will use in a job; supply list, what supplies Rome-Turney purchased that year; cheque receipts, for companies that were paid bills and payroll; Rome-Turney price list for radiators made for various models of cars; company lists, all companies with which Rome-Turney has done business and where they are located; factory expense orders, shop foreman's report on expenses of orders; production cost analysis, miscellaneous production cost figures; production figures books; supply tickets; general stock listings, includes copper tubing and the cost to make up their inventory to produce radiators; general estimates and cost figures for Mercedes type radiators produced by Rome-Turney; production cost analysis figures, kept together and listed by shop order numbers, chronologically on a yearly basis, lists all itemized costs to produce radiators for each shop order for a company.

Subseries 3: 1908 - 1933. Boxes 144 - 153.

Shop orders for manufacturing includes customer name, what they ordered, amount, cost and an assigned shop order number; shop inventory of stock 1919/20; shop papers, notes of foreman, supply tickets, materials lists for various shop orders; stock supply books, lists supplies ordered, what has been used, what is still on hand, who is to get the stock, costs; shipping orders, Rome-Turney form with their order number and the other company's order number, where to ship, what is being shipped, how many, cost, when shipped, how shipped and how order will be paid; Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company shipping orders, same details given as other shipping orders, also includes all rough calculations, notes and some correspondence related to shipping.

Subseries 4: 1906 - 1931. Boxes 154 -155.

Payroll books, pay for each person listed daily for the year by W. Lynch Sr., includes employee's name; employee records, pay by piece work, either lists employee's name or number, what they worked on, shop order number, rate of pay, also includes some figures on cost of some piece work; labor cost figures for various years; list of men in the rolling mills, 1922, includes rates of pay and addresses; payroll receipts and bank drafts; permission to give pay, notes from employee to paymaster authorizing him to give their pay to another party; payment envelopes and job certificates, includes payment amounts and dates for Liberty Bonds, YMCA, War Chest, three children employee certificates, scratch papers noting individual payments; Liberty Bonds, correspondence with other factories relative to payments on Liberty Loan Bonds; Rome War Chest Association Cards and War Savings Stamp Pledge Cards and Promotional Pamphlet, includes employees' names and addresses; job applications, see also correspondence series description; influenza vaccine, list of participants, promotional materials and blank report forms; employee involvement in the YMCA, includes applications for membership, lists of employees involved, what the YMCA offers; social gatherings, includes a pamphlet on the first social gathering of the employees of the company, a fundraiser for the family of an employee, company games and their winners; Rome Manufacturing Association Employment Records, letters about industrial-labor relations in Rome, how to make life better for employees, rates of pay in Rome, how to keep employee records, War Department information on how many employees worked for them, labor treatises, how to deal with shortages and problem employees, absenteeism, medical services, includes a graph for the cost of living in Rome during WWI; New York State Labor Department, documents stating number of employees and amount of wages paid, accidents also listed; miscellaneous employee notes, phone messages, payment of employee notes, circle time cards; employee records book, set-up alphabetically, includes names, nationality, age, marital status, when hired, what hired for, height, weight, and rate of pay.

Subseries 5: 1905 - 1933. Box 156 - 158.

Blank forms, letterheads and envelopes; advertisement brochures from other companies; advertisements for Rome-Turney, clippings from newspapers and magazines; mock-up advertisement, drawings of ads, handwritten and typed captions for ads, dummy ads in folders; advertising proofs, ad proof for aeronautical radiator, picture of Goodyear-Zeppelin Dirigible; competitor's advertisements, other radiator companies; Motor and Accessory Magazine, correspondence, bulletins, information from the credit department, information pamphlets, listing of various companies' accounts and how they are doing financially.

SERIES III : TECHNICAL, 1905 - 1933. Boxes 159 - 181

Patents, for different types of radiators, cooling devices, parts for radiators, caring for radiators, machinery for making radiators and helical fin tubing; technical, specifications for various types of radiators, calculations for building radiators, instructions for motors, pumps and presses, Aeronautical radiators article; blueprints, standard Rome-Turney radiators and heat exchange devices, sent by individuals showing what they wanted, produced by Rome-Turney for proposals to companies, produced to make radiators from; drawings, on heavy cardboard by John Boylan, they placed these on the floor as the design from which to make their radiator patterns.


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