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From Missiles to MelORols: Covington, KY, Mystery Update.


Last year before the WIA annual event I posted “Covington, Kentucky, 1913: A Family Mystery” (which can be read here). This extensive post brings my research into the history of my father and prolific American inventor, C. W. Vogt (1891-1973), up to date, with archival photos and documents.

Vogt Family Background

It is worthwhile to get a broader picture of his background than I have previously provided. The military invention we will look at is the result of his being exposed to the intricacy of timepieces and high level mechanical engineering.

Adam Vogt


His father, Adam Vogt , was an horologist (clockmaker and repairer) and jeweler. It  was said of my father Clarence that after Christmas there wouldn’t be a toy not taken apart and analyzed, as he did at age five with his first watch.


Adam was also involved in real estate and manufacturing. He and his brother Henry Vogt were Notable Men in Louisville. Their joint company was Vogt Brothers Manufacturing.


Fire hydrants produced there still dot our landscape.

Vogt Bros. Hydrant. Photo courtesy of Mike Martin.

A young C. W. invented for them a coal stoker and coal crusher, both of which failed.

Henry Vogt

1901 Sir Knight Henry Vogt, Knights templar

started his own dynastic company, the Henry Vogt Machine Company.

The Henry Vogt Machine Company.




It became a leader in valves and refrigeration.


For a cool look at a salesman’s travel book for them click here.

C. W. Vogt

C.  W. Vogt youthful portrait


attended Cornell University for two years, absorbed what education he felt they could offer him, and then went to work for Vogt Brothers and the Henry Vogt Machine Company. He developed a strong dislike for his uncle. Upon asking for a raise he was told that until he could do every job in the plant better and faster than everyone on the shop floor, no promotion was possible. Talk about Old School…

Delay detonation mechanism.

It was likely that during this time he began work on his military invention. The trip to England in 1914, mentioned in the previous post, could have well been related to its early development. The first reference I’ve found, below, reveals the process to have taken years:

From “Industrial Refrigeration”   Volumes  54-55    February 1918

“Clarence Vogt, of Louisville, Kentucky,  in recognition of his work in perfecting  a time explosive on which government authorities have been working five years,  has been made a captain in the United States regular army. Captain Vogt’s invention has an automatic delayed firing mechanism for high explosive shells and is covered by forty claims. Up to the time of enlisting in the Ordinance Department last August practically all of his time was devoted to the refrigerating line. By reason of his being a member of the American Society of Engineers, Capt. Vogt was qualified for appointment as first lieutenant without having to study at a training camp. He is the son of  Mr. Adam Vogt, president of the Vogt Brothers Mfg. Co., of Louisville, and was manager of that company at the time he joined the colors. Captain Vogt is twenty- six years of age.

Capt. C. W. Vogt.

Here is a short section of text followed by drawings of the device. If anybody with solid engineering savvy wants to read the complete text I’ll be happy to furnish them the whole patent. I am as baffled now reading through the pages as I was in 1965 when he showed them to me in England!





Clarence Vogt brings ice cream machinery into the 20th century.

“The crank, industrial crank, mold, disher and shallow freezer all came into use by the end of the 19th century, but one more innovation bears mentioning. In 1926, Louisville, Kentucky, inventor Clarence Vogt designed and built the first continuous process freezer, bringing the mass production of ice cream products full circle.”

I grew up hearing about his role as inventor of the process for creating continuous frozen ice cream and other food products but until recently there was no documentation. This recently uncovered clipping from the Courier Journal is the first public announcement of his revolutionary invention which would become the “Votator”.

Louisville Courier Journal March 5, 1926.


    ” Something new has been accomplished in Louisville in freezing liquids, which will revolutionize the ice cream industry and provide a new business for the city, according to C. W. Vogt, inventor and refrigeration expert, who heads a company recently formed for the manufacture of his machines.  Mr. Vogt made the announcement Sunday.

    The new process can not only be used in ice cream manufacture, but is also applicable to other lines, including the freezing of eggs, proper chilling of lard and other materials, he said.

     The apparatus, according to its inventor, saves 80 percent of the space now being devoted to ice cream machines, saves 50 percent of the labor involved, and in addition is instant and continuous. Through the old system of ice cream manufacture Mr. Vogt said twenty-four or more hours were required to prepare cream for the market after it was frozen.

Makes any amount

Mr. Vogt’s machines will make from a small quantity to 600 gallons an hour and the cream is ready for consumption as soon as it runs from the spigot of the new machine. Fifteen patents in all have been applied for on the principles evolved by Mr. Vogt. The smaller machines now being manufactured by the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company and the Louisville Electric And Manufacturing Company, suitable for hotel use, will supply instant cream for large banquets and the hotel trade as well.

    A mixture of the cream is inserted in the machine, it passes through a rather small tube which is connected to the ordinary refrigeration system and comes out of the spigot at the turn of a switch. The mixture is under pressure and the air is supplied by a small piston. The mixture is under a continuous pressure of about fifty pounds.

    As it passes through the tube, for a distance of two feet, it is agitated by a special contrivance which touches no metal part of the machine and thus does not produce frictional heat. At the end of the tube near the delivery spigot, the tube widens and the agitator moves faster, due to the greater diameter of the paddles. The brine is controlled automatically to insure proper temperature.

Manufactures See It

    The contrivance produces more cream from a given mixture than any yet evolved, Mr. Vogt said, because it saves waste. Not only does it save waste, but one kind of mixture can be put in as soon as the other has run out. Thus, he said, it is possible to run through two or more flavors in succession without halting the operation of the machine. It fills directly to cups, mold, or any sort of container.

    Due to the rapidity of freezing and the continuous agitation under pressure, the flavor and homogeniety of the mixture is retained, he said. The machine is the forerunner of others which will be developed later, he said.

    Ice cream manufacturers from the Middle West and the South have been drawn to Louisville by the demonstrations given here during the last two or three months. Several large concerns have become interested in the process and indicate that they will freeze eggs and other products by the machines as soon as they can be produced, Mr. Vogt said.

    The first machine will be delivered this week to a Louisville caterer. This machine takes no more space than an ordinary small table and will be able to produce the product continuously. Mr. Vogt said any of the machines can be operated by low-powered motors and are so simple that they can be installed anywhere there is a refrigerating system and an electric light circuit.

Chemical Tests Made.

  Tests are being made in laboratories to determine whether the new machine has improved the product by adding new values to the frozen foods, Mr. Vogt said. A company has been formed by Louisville capital to exploit the machine. Mr. Vogt is president and general manager; David C. Liggett, vice-president and sales manager; C. B. Kniskern, secretary and treasurer and G. O. Wymond, sales engineer. The board of directors consist of Richard Bean, Lee Miles, A. W. Lissauer, Louis Hollenbach, Walter H. Girdler, Arthur H. Almstead, and Mr. Vogt. No stock is being sold by the company, which is a closed corporation, it was announced.

Other uses later will be made of the principles discovered here, it was said. After careful surveys and consultations,  Mr. Vogt said, it developed that no previous use had been made of the principle involved in the process.”

Board member Walter H. Girdler was himself the founder of a dynastic corporation bearing his family name. In following years the Girdler Corporation developed the Votator. It brought them fame and success in the food industry.

C. W‘s comments about his invention, that “other uses later will be made of the principles discovered here” and that it would “provide a new business for the city,” were clearly born out in this advertisement from 1947.



My father went to work for the Girdlers. Here is a fine portrait of him as vice-president of the Votator division.


He struck off on his own within a few years. More ice cream inventions followed. Working with the Reynolds Aluminum Company he combined his expertise in refrigeration and packaging in the mass production of the Eskimo Pie.



Later he developed the MelORols.

Mello- Roll


C. W. Vogt enjoyed a long, successful life as a development engineer and inventor. His mind brimmed with ideas. He brought an amazing number of them to fruition.




I would like to thank:

Charles Winheld, a literal stranger on a train, who kindly assisted me in negotiating my father’s patents on the US Patent Offices data base. (220 patents from 1925 to1971-  click here to see them) and got the ball rolling for me.

Gary Falk, writer, musician, and historian from Louisville who has written extensively on the Girdlers. He betook himself to visit the Free Library and photocopy the newspaper article about the Votator, which otherwise would not have come to light.

My sister, Sarah Vogt, whose brilliant research on European databases uncovered the delay- action patent. She has also contributed photos, links, and lots of enthusiasm.
Duke Briscoe for much appreciated technical computer help.
Emily Postma, C. W.’s first daughter and my half-sister. She sent me Buddy’s (her name for our father) high  school/college scrap book last year, and, through our many conversations, helped me get a handle on the personal side of his life during his highly productive years of the 30s and 40s.

17 comments to From Missiles to MelORols: Covington, KY, Mystery Update.

  • tico

    The five missing photos will follow in a subsequent post.

  • tico

    WordPress is not letting me post any more pictures…

  • Ralph Boumenot

    Nice genealogical post Tico. I enjoyed reading it and I can’t wait to see the five photos. My wife is researching her mother’s side of the family. She’s gone back to the late 1600’s in England so far.

  • tico

    Thanks, Ralph. I’m pleased to say that the pictures are now up.

  • Jane Harrod

    Well Tico I see that Ben and Jerry owe your family a load of gratitude for making ice cream production a feasible commercial possibility! This is very cool! lol

  • tico

    Hi Jane,
    You remember that Courtney and Ben were an item before my time. When I met him I talked about my dad’s legacy in ice cream and refrigeration. It turns out that his very first major machinery investment was a Vogt Freezer manufactured in the 1930’s. Worked flawlessly for them.

  • Kevin Ooley

    I am in the fire hydrant repair business(Missouri), and have ran across some vogt hydrants. I am wondering if you might know where I could find schematics and/or parts for them. Any tidbit of information would be helpful, and greatly appreciated. Thank you; Kevin Ooley

  • tico

    Hi Kevin,

    I wish I could help you out here. I will contact one elderly family member to see if he has any idea where to search. The Vogt Bros. Manufacturing concern ended, I believe, by the 1950s.


  • What year did CW invent the Mello-Roll Ice Cream product?

  • tico

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your question. I don’t have a straight answer as to the year. The name Melo-Roll (one L) he was using in the 30s for a process he invented. I’ll consult my sister and get back to you about it.



  • tico

    Written by my sister, Sarah Vogt:

    “ It turns out the specific ice cream treat that C.W. Vogt and Borden put out was called “melOrol” – the letters shaped into an arc with the large “O” filling up the larger center space.

    I think that I finally have clarified –

    1) C. W’s “Vogt Continuous Instant Freezer” and with all “proofs” needed:The two (complimentary) patents, including the dates applied for and issued on the “MellOroll trademark issued to him (all from USA records) and the specific company he sold his invention (Borden). I think Borden wasn’t too interested in the “Melorol”) name itself, but wanted everything wrapped up tight.

    2) His Votator – in the end not as tricky to prove, but all complete now and, as above, from USPTO records.

    C.W changed the basic process of making ice cream and he invented a machine that could carry it out, the “Vogt Continuous Instant Freezer”.

    Melo-Roll, Mello-Roll, Eskimo Pie – they are merely names for one individual ice cream treat. Throughout the twenties all of them were made using some version of the “batch” process and so all of them were lumpy and had chunks of ice. — cold but not creamy.

    He applied for the two complimentary patents* that were ultimately successful in Dec. 1927 and in Feb. 1928. The patents were issued in early 1932. By 1932 Borden was advertising and distributing “melOrol” and that ice cream treat was a whole new deal.

    *(one for the process, the other for the unique machine that could actualize it)

  • QUESTION: was C.W.Vogt serving in France Xmas 1915 during the First World War?
    An answer to this question would be very much appreciated as I am researching some documentation in my possession.
    Thanking you in anticipation of your reply.
    Michael W. Morgan

  • My husband passed away in July 2014, and in his possessions was a round insignia that on the front is marked, Henry Vogt Machine Co. Founded 1880. The front is imprinted with two side view faces, one plain, the other with a helmet & goggles with some sort of contraption that attaches to the helmet & end under the chin with something in the middle that I can’t make out. The other side is the Statue of Liberty with the dates 1886 & 1986.with 50 small stars around the perimeter. Is this something that is of interest? Thank you for your time.
    Patricia Tilley

  • tico

    Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for the reply and sorry for the delay in responding on my part. What you describe is of interest to me, for sure!

  • Tony Mathis

    Thank you for posting this information about Clarence Vogt. I want to add that the Votator Scraped Surface Heat Exchanger is still produced by Waukesha Cherry-Burrell, a unit of SPX Corporation. The company ownership passed from Girdler Corporation to Chemetron, then to United Dominion before finally merging with SPX in 2001. The list of Votator applications has grown very long in the more than 80 years since it was introduced, and I would say there is no one whose life has not been touched by a product heated or cooled in a Votator.

    The original Vogt Freezer was licensed to Cherry Burrell Corporation in 1928, and now that business belongs to a private company known as WCB Ice Cream.

    The Votator brand was also applied to other types of machinery that was either invented or acquired by the Votator Division,including rotary piston fillers, agitated thin-film evaporators, continuous mixers and high-pressure pumps.

    Once patents had expired by the 1950s, competing companies produced similar heat exchangers that are often referred to generically as “votators”. Your father’s creation was the original!

  • Eic Sack


    My grandfather Melvin Sack came to work for HV in 1930 upon graduation from MIT. He had several patents in the 30’s and retired as VP Heat Exchange Division in 1971. Would love to know more.


  • Carol Harris Ziegler

    You spent a lot of time on this…’s a very interesting story regarding your father.

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