Friday, March 21, 2014

Niagara Thermo-Cyclopad

I picked this old massage unit up recently at a thrift store in Smiths Falls, Ontario:

In the 1933, William Wettlaufer of Buffalo, New York was granted a Canadian patent on a "gravel treating apparatus" to screen and grade crushed stone, ores, coal and other materials.  

In 1934, he patented a "gyrating mechanism" for a similar purpose. His machine eventually found application in Canadian coal mines to sift and separate grades of coal based on a shuffling action. Wettlaufter observed that a number of miners would come and sit or lean on the machine during their breaks, claiming that the vibration helped with their sore backs and muscles.  He eventually developed a scaled-down version and patented it in 1941 but didn't take it to market.  (He also patented a "vibratory therapeutic chair" in 1950, and helped his son-and-law develop a screening device that was the basis of the Derrick Corporation.)  In 1948, Owen Murphy brought a prototype at an auction and subsequently patented his own version in 1958.  
Out of this came Niagara Healthcare of Adamsville, Pennsylvania, today a large manufacturer of therapy products.

As the ad says, and the label on my machine, in Canada these were made by Monarch Massage Limited of Fort Erie, Ontario.  They're probably no relation of the Michigan company that put out the 1915 ad below:

Monarch Massage is gone, but Niagara is still a going concern and still offers this device, which is based on cycloidal vibration therapy.  However, as recently as November 2013, the company got into some trouble with the British Advertising Standards Authority Complaint Board over false and misleading advertising relating to these products.

As for the one I picked up, it still works beautifully and, on full setting, vibrates so fiercely that the dog starts growling and barking downstairs!  I can't speak to its therapeutic efficiency, but I'm thinking it could be effective underneath a sealed plastic container filled with cleaning fluid for cleaning small parts in my shop.


Unknown said...

Does anybody still make this device or similar for sale (new) in the USA? I know Niagra is in Australia and sells in Asia but cant communicate with them or find out a source in the US. The one we had from the 60s or 70s ran daily for 25 years.

Unknown said...

I have one. Never been used. Interested? Was bought in Providence RI

Anonymous said...

We live on the prairies in Canada. I was given one that grandma owned when she passed away in 1993 and was told she bought it from a door to door salesman. I have fond memories of going to her house and finding her sitting in her easy chair massaging her back. She told me she had arthritis in her back. All us grandchildren were fascinated by it and loved to take turns winding it up to full tilt and lying on it. I am now a retired RN with ‘arthritis in my back’ and use it often. It still runs perfectly...and no, I wouldn’t give it up. Sorry.

Mister G said...

Thanks for the note and story! That is one well made machine.

Unknown said...

I found one at a home we were cleaning out its in great condition everything works tryed it out on my wife no Frail chords timer Works heating work vibration works on the thermo-cyclopad. The Chords are in great condition. Also has the hand unit also in great condition.If someone would want it I would sell it or someone who is a collector