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Born in 1862, Mr. Veeder had Dutch ancestors who immigrated to New Amsterdam in the 1600s. Early in his life, his family moved to Plattsburg, New York, where he completed high school before returning to Pennsylvania for an engineering degree at Lehigh University, graduating in 1886. Son of a mining engineer, he is said to have demonstrated mechanical ability from an early age. At 6, he had devised a waterwheel in a brook near home. At 10, he built some small furnaces in hard sandbanks in which he burned soft coal. When he was 12, he built a foot-powered jigsaw, and by the time he was 18, he'd created an old-fashioned high-wheeled bicycle from magazine pictures, spending most of his time after school riding and repairing it. The saddle of flexible leather stretched over a steel spring frame was so good that he had it patented in 1881. During college vacations, he made bicycle ball bearings, a two-speed gear for tricycles, many electrical parts, and photographic shutters. In 1883, he sold his American bicycle seat patent to Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford for $1,000.

After college, Mr. Veeder worked for a number of companies, inventing mining hoists, locomotives, automatic regulating apparatus for naval searchlights, and the mechanical portion of the first three-phase motors built by the General Electric Company, among other devices. At his death, he held more than 150 patents.

His signature invention was the cyclometer, which arose out of his passion for bicycling in days when signs were few and stated mileages both seldom given and inaccurate. He invented complex machinery and even designed power plant layouts, but he yearned simply to know how far he'd pedaled his bicycle. Much tinkering led to a breakthrough in 1894 ---- compound differential gearing. When Pope decided not to make them, Mr. Veeder formed his own business in Hartford, and by 1896 had sold 50,000 of the devices.

The Veeder-Root Company (so named after a 1928 merger with a Bristol, Connecticut, firm) made counting devices to control all sorts of manufacturing processes as well as parts essential to speedometers, odometers, tachometers, voting machines, cash registers, telephones, and other products. In World War I, Mr. Veeder's counting devices were used on aircraft machine guns and on battleship and submarine instruments. In 1930, the Hartford Courant declared that the company was "the world's largest manufacturer of precision counting equipment." In the decade that followed, Veeder-Root counters were incorporated into gas pumps. Today the company (headquartered in Simsbury and part of a larger conglomerate) touts itself as "the number-one supplier of automated tank gauges in the world."

(An excerpt from an article by David K. Leff in the fall, 2013 issue of Connecticut Woodlands, a publication of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.)
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Very interesting reading. Thanks.

But it brings up a question for me. Why are Veeder-Root counters still so expensive? Because they are small or because they are precise. I have a measuring wheel that I bought for less than $20 that has a direct continuous drive to the feet/inches dial. I haven't tested it to see if it always shows the same exact number of feet and inches for a large number of revolutions. The plastic housing that includes the dial is a little bigger than a deck of cards, so much larger than the Veeder-Root housing.

The selling price of a Jones Counter includes:
Cost of chassis parts (the sheet metal platform)
Cost of small Delrin gear
Cost of Veeder-Root counter
Cost of fasteners
Cost of packaging

Since 2008 the cost of everything has risen very slightly, with one exception. The Veeder-Root counter, always the most expensive part of the assembly, has tripled in price, and this has caused the rise in selling price. Tom and I are aware that the price rise is undesirable, but unless we wish to work for nothing there is little we can do about it. Profit has not increased but out-of-pocket costs have.

Tom does the fabrication at his home in Virginia and, from time to time, visits us in Ohio, bringing a resupply of new stock when he does so. I do the mailing, which takes a bit of the burden off Tom, as I’m retired and he is not.

We are constantly searching for an alternate counter, but without success so far. The Veeder-root counter has a higher RPM limit than most of its competitors, and is also available in the various configurations that we use.
I wasn't asking about the price of your finished counters. I know the price of your counters is controlled primarily by the price of your supplies.
That's why I was asking why the Veeder-Root counters that you guys have to use are so expensive. I imagine you have looked into the possibility of using another supplier for your counters and weren't able to find anything. Just wondering why another supplier hasn't appeared on the scene, given the high price of the Veeder-Root.
The cost of the Veeder-Root counter is high, no doubt about it. The issue lies with the allowable speed of rotation. The model I use allows for 5,000 counts per minute, which translates to about 15mph.

There are a few other manufacturers who sell counters at a significantly lower price, in the $5 range, but the allowable rotation is only 500 counts per minute.... Or, walking speed, like you'd use on a measuring wheel.

I've been searching periodically for years now, and the Veeder-Root 7458 counter is the ONLY option I've found that allows for 5000 counts per minute rotation speed. The materials used to make the internal components are different (Delrin vs PVC) and has small steel bearings inside that support the shaft. They are similar to washers, or "thrust bearings" if you like.

Veeder-Root puchased the only competitor a few years ago. They only supplied a 5-digit model, and at the time, were only about 15% cheaper. Since they consolidated, the price has gone up significantly.

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