The Ford Meter Box Story



There was no fanfare when the Ford Meter Box Company was conceived and named. No definite date for the birth of the company can be found; however, a patent application for the original Ford Meter Box was filed on December 20, 1898. It can be assumed that this is the birth year. The company had few material assets; in fact, it consisted mainly of the ideas and dreams of the founder, Edwin Ford.


After losing an investment in a glass company in Gas City, Indiana, Edwin Ford returned to the home he owned at 213 East Kickapoo Street in Hartford City. He took a job with the new water works in Hartford City and was soon appointed its first superintendent in 1895. Edwin was concerned about the heavy demand for water, caused by customers wasting the cool water by running constant streams to preserve milk and butter. There seemed to be no solution except to meter all customers. The problem was where to locate the meters.


Most houses in Hartford City had been built without basements, making indoor meter placement difficult. Meters could be installed only in some kind of an outside pit and Edwin set about the task of designing such an arrangement. He dug a hole in his yard and covered it with a wooden lid.  He hung a thermometer, which he adjusted to different depths. In cold winter weather he would dash out to read the temperature and from his observations was able to work out the design of a meter pit or "meter box" which solved the problem of meter freeze-ups.


The very first meter boxes were made of three foot lengths of vitrified clay tile about ten inches in diameter. A cement bottom was cast at one end of the pit, and vertical pipes topped with meter couplings extended a few inches from this enclosed bottom. An inner frost lid of wool and felt was placed about half way down to protect the meter from freezing along with an iron ring and lid cemented to the top. The entire town was metered with these boxes, making Hartford City Water the first utility in a cold climate to have all meters installed outside at the curb.


Edwin had no intention of producing meter boxes for other than local requirements, but word of the unique program at Hartford City was spread to neighboring towns by meter salesmen. Edwin was approached to make boxes for other utilities. He agreed, and these first meter boxes were made in Edwin's basement in his spare time and pulled out of the basement window on a cart with baby buggy wheels, running on an improvised track. Thus a new business was born and the logical name of The Ford Meter Box Company was adopted.


It's quite a jump from a small specialty company to the premier manufacturer of waterworks brass valves and fittings, water meter setting and testing equipment, and products for pipeline maintenance and restraint. High quality and a broad line of innovative products are the reasons for our growth.


In 1898, Ford pioneered settings for water meters. Today, the largest variety of meter setters for indoor and outdoor use are available from Ford Meter Box.


In the 1950's Ford introduced the Pack Joint and today offers the largest variety of couplings in the water works industry. During the early 60's Ford introduced the ball valve, assuring the water works industry of easy turning, now and in the future.


The Ford commitment to quality water works products continued in the 70's and '80's with the development of a comprehensive line of pipe products. Ford pipe products meet any pipe repair, coupling, or tapping need.


During the 1980's Ford was the first company to introduce check valves designed to be a part of the meter setting. This innovative product line continues to be important at Ford, and today the largest variety of ASSE approved check valves for use in water works applications are available from Ford Meter Box.


The latest addition to the Ford family of products is the Uni-Flange® line of flange adapters and pipe restrainers. The Uni-Flange® adapter series for steel, ductile iron and PVC pipe eliminates the problems of pre-engineered, pre-fabricated pipe systems. All Uni-Flange® adapter flanges solve bolt hole alignment problems, allow for misaligned pipe, provide future maintenance capabilities, and are UL listed and FM approved.


Uni-Flange® restraints for ductile iron and PVC pipe eliminate the need for costly and time consuming concrete thrust blocks. These time and money saving restraints can be installed prior to laying the pipe, and the trenches can be backfilled immediately. Uni-Flange® pipe restraints offer guaranteed joint restraint, in any soil condition.


The Ford Meter Box story is not finished because Ford continues to develop new and innovative products for the water distribution industry. The Ford family of products is available through more than 700 stocking distributors world wide.


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Wabash, Indiana 46992-0443
(260) 563-3171