This web page took time to scan, research, design, and upload. Thank you for supporting the Virtual Steam Car Museum!

Shop at Amazon and Donate to the VSCM.

The Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation's history is yet to be written. CRUBAN initially started as the CRU Patents Corporation of NY, with "CRU" apparently standing for the initials of Charles R. Uebelmesser.

Uebelmesser and his associate, William Wenderhold, assigned to this company twenty-one patents dealing with film projection equipment (projectors, lamps, etc.) between 1920 and 1922. Sometime after 1922, they joined forces with Edwin & Alfred Banzhaf - the "BAN" in CRUBAN probably comes from Banzhaf - and began producing steam car components.

The Banzhaf brothers and Wenderhold were all of German descent, but were US-born citizens. Uebelmesser was a German national, and thus even though he appears to be the company's chief engineer, many of the earlier firm's patents were issued to Wenderhold, who was a US citizen. During the war, the intellectual property of Germans (and other Axis nationals) could be confiscated under the Alien Property Act; hence Uebelmesser probably adopted a low-profile during the war years.

Uebelmesser & Wenderhold received 15 steam-related patents between 1925-1932. Uebelmesser and both of the Banzhaf brothers died between 1931-1932, which apparently lead to the demise of the company.[1]

CRUBAN apparently had high hopes and expectations for its Empire Steam Car, but many former Stanley dealers grew exasperated waiting for it. One of whom was Frank Duveneck, a San Francisco Stanley dealer, who wrote to his New Zealand friend, Hector Halhead "Steam" Stewart, in September 1926 that Cruban was trying to get his car business on the road.

"Some of our [Stanley] owners have recently been circularized by Cruban stating that they are ready to bring out the ideal steam car and quoting prices of $2,650 for the open and about $3,000 for the closed car. I can't quite make out what he is after as he has not seen fit to send me one. I have a sort of feeling that he isn't really ready but is trying to get a list of prospects that he can go to some financier and borrow money. Uebelmesser has a whole lot to be said in his favor as to knowledge of the steam car but I think we should all do well to examine the management of the company if they build cars and before we put any money into it. They always have been that way and made independant [sic] sales when they could and cut prices. Of course I have never been Cruban's dealer although I have sold quite a lot of their stuff but I am certain that neither Cruban or anyone else will ever put over the steam car without a group of first class experienced dealers. Perhaps Uebelmesser does not write to me as he feels that I know he hasn't got a car."<sup>[2]</sup>

The Cruban Machine & Steel Company used postcards to advertise its products, as well as several brochures. The VSCM collection is arranged in chronological order. Karl Petersen has published some of these in The Steam Automobile.[3] There are a number of patents associated with Cruban. The VSCM invites a motivated researcher to partner with it in gathering and publishing information on this firm.

1922

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, Pilot Postcard, December 23, 1922, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, Pilot Postcard, December 23, 1922, Reverse

This Cruban postcard shows the Company's pilot. One Frank Stockinger provided the December 24, 1922 testimonial for the product's use on his Stanley Steamer.

1923

cruban_machine_and_steel_corporation_1923_03_march 21_postcard_branch_forks_reverse Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, March  21, 1923, Branch Forks, Pricker, Strainer Postcard Reverse

This Cruban postcard shows the Company's branch forks and nozzle cleaner, as well as the Cruban Improved Branch Nut and Strainer. One Paul Hanke provided the endorsement for the product's use on his Stanley Sedan.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, January 27, 1923, Pilot Assembly Post Card, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, January 27, 1923, Pilot Assembly Post Card, Reverse

This Cruban postcard shows the Company's pilot. Warriner & Edmonds provided the Manuary 27, 1923 testimonial for the product's use on his Stanley Steamer.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, November 1923 Brochure

In November 1923, The Cruban Machine and Steel Corproration published this catalogue of its products. The January 1965 issue of The Steam Automobile featured a copy of the November 1923 brocure.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation Brochure, Photocopy, Pacific Steam Motors dealer stamp.

This photocopy of Cruban's November 1923 brochure carries the stamp of Frank Duveneck's Packfic Steam Motors Corporation in San Francisco, CA. Note the hand written address change to 54 Varick Street.

1924

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, May  12, 1924, six-fold brochure, pp. 01 - 03 Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, May  12, 1924, six-fold brochure, pp.  04 - 06 Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, May  12, 1924, six-fold brochure, pp.  07 - 09 Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, May  12, 1924, six-fold brochure, pp.  10 - 12

Cruban created this six-fold brochure to illustrate its Empire Burner. The earliest testimonial is May 12, 1924.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, Belling Tool, July 23, 1924,  Postcard, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, Belling Tool, July 23, 1924, Reverse

This Cruban postcard shows the Company's Empire Belling Tool, or flaring tool. One Edward V. Warriner of the Stanley Garage in Springfield, Mass. endorsed the product on July 23, 1924.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, April 21, 1925, advertising card, Empire Safety Valve, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, April 21, 1925, advertising card, Empire Safety Valve, Reverse

On November 24, 1924, Wm. Pierce of Milwaukee, WI endorsed the Empire Safety Valve.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925 Postcard, Cruban Fuel Filter for Steam Cars, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925 Postcard, Cruban Fuel Filter for Steam Cars, Reverse

This card promoted the Cruban Fuel aFilter for Steam Cars. It listed the company's products and prices.

1925

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, January 15, 1925, Letter to J. W. Moore

Cruban wrote to Mr. J. W. Moore of Ft. Edward, NY inquiring about fitting an Empire Burner to his steam car.

Cruban Machine and Steel Corp., June 1, 1925, G. A. Gibson letter

This June 1, 1925 letter too Mr. G. A. Gillen of New York suggests that Gillen was about to purchase a steam car, probably a Stanley, and that Cruban was to refit it with an Empire burner and perhaps other Cruban/Empire parts.

ruban Machine and Steel Corp., June 1, 1925, G. A. Gibson Envelope ruban Machine and Steel Corp., June 1, 1925, G. A. Gibson Envelope Reverse Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, April 21, 1925, advertising card, Empire Automatic Burner Control, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, April 21, 1925, advertising card, Empire Automatic Burner Control, Reverse

Empire Automatic Burner Control received the endorsement of Ola Saunders, the president of Fraleigh Lines Shelfer Copmany on March 4, 1925.

1926

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925, Empire Steam  Automovile, Custom Built, Postcard, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925, Empire Steam  Automovile, Custom Built, Postcard, Reverse

This Cruban card shows the Empire Steam Car chassis, probably about 1926.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925, Steam Bus Postcard, Front Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, ca: 1925, Steam Bus Postcard, Reverse

This Cruban card shows the Empire Steam Car chassis, probably about 1926. Note the address change to 54 Varick Street in New York.

1927

Crubah Machine & Steel Corporation, Postcard, March 2, 1927, Improved Boiler Water Level Regulator, Postcard, Front Crubah Machine & Steel Corporation, Postcard, March 2, 1927, Improved Boiler Water Level Regulator, Postcard, Reverse

Abraham B. Cox of Glensfoot Valley, NY wrote this testimonial for the Cruban Improved Boiler Water Level Regulator on March 2, 1927.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, article in Steam Car developements and Steam Aviation showing two postcards.

This two page article in Steam Car Developments and Steam Avaiation shows the "Cruban Improved Boiler Water Level Regulator" postcard and the "Cruban Pilot Assembly for Steam Cars" postcard. The date of this journal is not known.

Cruban Machine & Steel Corporation, Floyd Clymer copy,

Floyd Clymer reprinted this two two-page article from the Scientific American. It apparently shows the Cruban steam bus in operation.

See Hector Halhead Stewart's Cruban material.

For a wonderful description and superb photographs of an Empire (Cruban) burner, see Bob Wilhelm's web site.

[1]James Merrick, the part time librarian for the Stanley Museum in Kingfield, ME posted this information February 18, 2003 07:47AM on the www.stanleysteamers.com. While James Merrick does not cite his sources, he is an impeccable and extraordinarily trustworthy researcher. This is an excellent start on which to build a history of Cruban.

[2]Frank Duveneck to H. H. Stewart, September 22, 1926. This quote is drawn from Hoke, Donald R., Hector Halhead "Steam" Stewart: The History of Stanley Steam Cars in New Zealand and More, (Dallas, TX, The Virtual Steam Car Museum, Inc. 2016).

[3]Petersen, Karl, "Cruban - Making the Stanley Practical," The Steam Automobile, ____________, pp. 16 - 20?. The January 1965 issue of The Steam Automobile featured a copy of the November 1923 brocure.

Subscribe to the Virtual Steam Car Museum Newsletter!

Contact us if you have additional information about the Cruban Machine & Steel Company, or if you have questions.

Thank you for your financial support.

Society of Automotive Historians

The Society of Automotive Historians bestowed its prestigious 2015 Ingersoll Award on the VSCM web site.