The Dumbwaiter – Making Lifting Easier

Finding a way to make work easier is something that humankind has consistently excelled at. From the invention of the wheel and pulley, to the first steam engine, there are many thousands of inventions that have been developed to make it easier to preform work. One of the most common tasks that inventors have set out to make easier is that of lifting heavy objects and dumbwaiters are one of the oldest lifting aids, dating back many thousands of years.

A dumbwaiter is basically a freight elevator, which is designed to move goods easily between floors. In the early days, dumbwaiters often simply consisted of a rope that was tied to a piece of wood. Objects could be placed on the wood and then hoisted between floors using the rope. They were incredibly popular in medieval times, with all castles having some sort of dumb waiter installed. Water power and animal power were also used during this time, to eliminate the need for human lifting effort.

Dumbwaiters would continue to be used by all cultures and a number of inventors would develop more efficient dumbwaiters, but it was not until the 19th century that this technology would really take off. This occurred at the hands of Elisha Otis, who was an inventor.

Otis was working in construction and used dumbwaiters to move his building supplies. He found that there were a number of serious safety concerns when using these lifting devices, primarily that if the rope broke, the dumbwaiter and everything it was carrying would fall to the ground. Otis set out to find a way to prevent these types of accidents and developed a special braking system, which engaged if the rope broke.

After the completion of the construction project, Otis was set to move on with his life and travel with his family to California in hopes of striking it rich. However, his invention had attracted the interest of a number of construction companies who requested that Otis build them a safe lifting system. Otis decided that he would stay in New York and would go on to build the first passenger elevator. The development of the elevator had previously been inhibited by safety concerns, but Otis was able to create the first safe passenger elevator.

Today, most modern dumbwaiters include a safety system, which prevents the device from falling in the event of a cable or rope failure. They use electric power, although some manual dumbwaiters are still used, and they can be installed into new homes as they are being built, as well as existing homes. For new homes, it is not uncommon for the homeowner to have a dumb waiter custom built to get the most out of the available space. There are also pre-assembled kits available that can be quickly and easily installed.

These devices remain very popular and are a testament to mans goal of making work easier and lifting heavy objects with less effort.