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Company History

Formsprag Clutch Old Car

Formsprag Clutch traces its roots to the Detroit area businesses and innovators who supported the U.S. effort in World War II. The first "Formsprag sprag clutch" was developed as part of a cooperative effort between Ohio State University and the Gear Grinding Machine Company of Detroit, Michigan for use on a supercharger for aircraft engines used in World War II.

In a plan to develop overrunning sprag clutches for commercial markets in a post-war economy, the Gear Grinding Machine Company established a subsidiary company called Formgrind in 1943. Efforts at developing sprag clutch technology for peacetime applications progressed and a subsidiary company was incorporated as a separate corporation under the laws of the State of Michigan in 1946 and thus, the name Formsprag was born.

Formsprag Clutch Office People Retro

Formsprag's first commercial overrunning sprag clutch product was the predecessor to today's FS-100, -200, -300 series. Though one basic sprag product, this core design of overrunning clutch was such that it could be adapted for a myriad of industrial markets - from woodworking tools to industrial machinery to automobiles. In fact, Formsprag was the exclusive supplier of the overrunning clutch used in the famous Packard Motor Car Ultramatic Transmission. Formsprag had an outstanding record with no problems.

Over the next 50+ years Formsprag's engineers pioneered sprag and other clutch technology, gaining numerous patents in the process, including:

  • Free-Action retainer and sprag profile
  • PCE sprag profile
  • Centrifugal Throw-out sprag profile
  • Formchrome sprag surface treatment
  • Reverse-Locking clutch technology
  • Form-Lock bi-directional backstop technology
Formsprag Clutch Facility Photo Cover Retro

These developments in sprag technology and design allowed the product to serve the increasingly complex requirements of both industrial and aerospace applications including:

  • Aircraft engine starters, APU drives, and helicopter main drives
  • Tank turret positioning backstops
  • Conveyor & Conveying Equipment
  • Food Processing Machinery
  • Gear Reducers
  • Hoists & Cranes
  • Mining Machinery
  • Machine Tools
  • Paper Converting Machinery
  • Packaging Machinery
  • Pumping Equipment

Throughout these years, Formsprag continued to expand its operations by building new manufacturing and heat treat facilities, purchasing other manufacturers of other power transmission components, and acquiring the manufacturing rights of other products to expand its presence in worldwide PT markets. Many of these other PT products still carry the Formsprag name though they now have no connection to present-day Formsprag Clutch. Formsprag Company operated as an independent company until purchased by the Dana Corporation in 1973. In 1991 Formsprag became part of DANA's Warner Electric Division. In March, 2000 all of Warner Electric, including Formsprag Clutch, was purchased by Colfax Corporation and became part of the Colfax Power Transmission Group.

From its earliest beginnings to the present day, Formsprag has performed reliably in the world all around us: Long Life Holdbacks in the underground coal mines of West Virginia; Form-Lock bidirectional backstops on the seas on ships of the U.S. Navy; FSO Series General Purpose clutches on countless land-based custom machines; Sprag Retainer Assemblies on Commercial and Military fixed wing and rotor aircraft in the skies; Form-Lock bi-directional backstops on the International Space Station beyond our atmosphere. Formsprag Clutch continues to serve these and other numerous markets with one overriding goal - to provide quality, value, and service.