Pipe Coupling Patent (1872/1545)

On 21st May 1872, Thomas Messenger applied for his second of three pipe-coupling patents. The patent (No. 1872/1545) entitled “improvements in the coupling of pipes, and in the fittings thereof, and in valves to use in connection therewith, and for other similar purposes”[1]. The patent initially received provisional protection for 6 months[2] and sealed on 19th November 1872; however, it became void at the end of the initial three-year period[3].

The patent may have been a spin-off from further development of both Riddell’s original patent and his own triangular tubular boiler patent, which is mentioned in the patent application, of which the following is an extract:-

I cast or otherwise form the socket at one or both ends of each length of pipe with a flange, or with a ring, having one, two, or more lugs, ears, or tabs or their equivalent, and having holes or slots in it and the outer end; or instead of a flange I sometimes form the socket with one or more pairs of tabs or ears. The interior of the socket may be of the same diameter for the whole of its length, or I divide it into two lengths of two different diameters. In such case the length of socket nearest the pipe, which forms a part thereof, is of such diameter that it will allow of the end of the next adjoining pipe to be slipped into it. The outer end of the socket is made of somewhat larger diameter to receive one or more rings, or a coil, collar, washer, or packing which encircles the pipe inserted in the socket. Previously to inserting the pipe in the socket the flange with holes in its projecting part, or the flange or rings with tabs or ears on its outer circumference, is slipped on the end of the pipe, the holes in the two flanges or the spaces formed by the tabs or nears being then brought opposite each other, screw bolts are placed in the holes or spaces; nuts or equivalents are placed on the bolts, and screwed or forced up.

The smallest part of the flange is forced into the enlarged diameter of the Socket and compresses the packing, thus forming a tight joint; or I cast the end entering the socket with ring, lugs, or their equivalent, in order to comprise the packing so as to dispense with the loose ring or collar. I employ a double socket having one or both ends prepared to receive loose rings with lugs or their two or more spigot ends together. These ends are composed of iron, brass, or other convenient tubes not specially prepared, or a single socket prepared at one end to receive packing with a metal ring placed between it and the pacing, upon which loose ring with lugs or their equivalent fitting in the other presses to answer the same purpose as a double socket in some situations.

I use a casting having a chambered water, fluid, or liquid space with a number of sockets 1n the same to receive two or more pipes having a casting with a corresponding number of rings cast on it with two or more lugs or their equivalent, so that a number of joints may be made with one operation, or any required number of castings with rings may be used where the number of sockets on water or liquid space or chambers be too great for one casting with rings, such as coils, tabular boilers, or a series of pipes joined together. These water spaces or fluid or liquid spaces may be provided with a valve or valves to admit or regulate the {low of water or other liquid into chambers, thence to pipes attached to the same; or I make a water space or chambers with valve or valves working in it or them, to which is attached sockets, flanges, or other connections, or their equivalent to connect therewith pipe or pipes on either side or on both sides thereof, or in any other desired position. These valves I open and close by worm and quadrant outside the water g or fluid space, the spindle attached to the quadrant working through a gland into the said chamber, to which would be attached a valve or valves; or I may open and close the valve or valves by a screw working through the gland direct.

To attach a socket or valve to a flat surface, such, for instance, as tanks, or to attach to the side of another pipe to form branch, or what is called tee, I cut a hole out of the existing pipe or take and secure the said socket, flange ,valve, or other connection to it by means of screw bolts or their equivalent without frilling and tapping the existing pipe, or having any external strap or other equivalent without drilling and tapping the existing pipe, or having any external strap or other equivalent means as heretofore employed.

In carrying out this manifold and highly valuable Invention constructed as it is upon a large and comprehensive view, both of arrangement and of detail, I would wish to set forth clearly that


Figure 1a is a longitudinal section of a spigot and socket joint for hot water or other pipes; Figure 1b is a transverse section of same. Thus it will be seen the socket (A) is formed with two recesses on the inside; the innermost one for the reception of the end of the spiggot (B); the other recess for a ring (C) of elastic or other suitable material. This ring is compressed by a sliding metal collar (D), which is screwed up to the socket by means of bolts (B) and nuts (F) working on the lugs or tabs (G) cast on the socket and collar, thus forming the joint. I do not confine myself to this or these arrangements.

Figure 2 represents my method of coupling two spigots (B), and may be used for a stuffing box joint. In this case a loose socket (A) having recess for ring (C) of elastic or other material at each end is run over the pipes at their juncture, and two elastic rings or rings of other suitable material, and two sliding metal collars (D) are used after the same manner as before. Each collar and elastic or other ring working against the socket at each end of same respectively, with any slight relaxation.

Figure 3a is a longitudinal section of a socket (A) and spigot (B) suitable for steam piping or any other piping liable to contraction. Here a tab (H) is cast on the spigot, as shewn (also in Figure 3b), which being run through an eye to receive same made in a fillet (I) cast on the inside of the socket, and then turned round till it bears against the fillet, prevents the parting of the pipes, or of the spigot being drawn out of the socket by contraction. In other respects the joint is similar to Figure 1, but not confined to the particulars mentioned.

Figure 4 is a jointing for two spigots, being somewhat similar to Figure Two, only that one loose socket and but one metal ring (K) covers the joint inside the socket, and at each end of this ring as elastic or other ring is placed. The socket and metal collar then being screwed up got upon both the elastic rings, pressing them against the iron ring or rings of other material and the surface of the spigot and interior of the socket so forming the joint.

Figure 5 indicates the application of the joint to coils or a series of pipes- Sockets are formed in the end of coil or continuous water space (L) to receive pipes and the elastic rings. Tabs or lugs are cast on the outside pipes, and the water space fillets (I) are also cast round the pipes, which on the pipes being screwed up against the elastic or other ring, making each joint water-tight.

Figure 6 is a joint of lead, copper, or other malleable metal pipes; for this joint the metal is burned up at the end of each pipe forming a fillet (I) or flange against which an elastic or other ring on each pipe works with a loose socket and sliding collar, similar of Figure 4.

Figure 7 is a longitudinal section of a coupling for a small cast-iron or wrought pipe if made double 7a and 7b are transverse section and elevation of the same. Here instead of the metal collar being brought up to the socket by screws and nuts, the collar having two hooks or claws (M) works on a widening filler (N) cast on socket, and by turning it round on same brings it up to the socket, compressing the india-rubber or other rings.

Figure 8 is a screw joint for small pipes, being in principle the same as last, but instead of a widening fillet the collar and socket (either loose or fixed) are brought by means of worm and thread (O); either one or two elastic or other rings and one plain metal ring are used.

Figure 9a is an illustration shewing the coupling applied to and in connection with a series of triangular tubes or pipes so arranged as to form a boiler for heating with hot water. A return pipe here brings the water into water space (L) at the end of the furnace bars and tubes, which alternate the width of the boiler by means of a spigot and socket jointing, Figure 1a, or other application of the joint; the water then flows up the above mentioned tubes, and into the water space at the back, and thence into the saddle-shaped water space, and by it into all the tubes connected with some, and also by means of a connection similar to Figure 9b at each corner of the saddle into the upper layer of tubes. These and the saddle portion are connected at front, as shewn by above-mentioned coupling as represented by Figure 9b. The water thence passes into the flow pipe by a socket and spigot coupling, as Figure 1 on this illustration, and as shewn in section in section 9b, are indicated blank socket or caps (P) on the water space. These blank sockets are for the purpose of taking out the water tubes to be cleaned, or in case any should become fractured to substitute new ones; they fit into sockets cast on the water spaces, into which a ring of india-rubber or other packing is inserted a T shaped iron (Q) with worm at end for nut is then introduced into the socket until its feet rest against the inside of the water space ; the nut is then screwed on to it, having a small metal collar and india-rubber or other packing by which the blank socket or cap is screwed up, thus making at all points a sound joint. The central coupling of Figure 9b is made in this wise, sockets are cast on the water spaces at top and bottom for the double spigot piece with elastic or other rings at each end. The joints are then made by means of the screw bolts and nuts working on the lugs, ears, or tabs cast on the lockets.

Figure 10 shews the coupling applied to a water space having a valve (R) attached to a quadrant. This is worked by a screw spindle (S) with wheel at end, turning which the water or other liquid may be regulated to any extent. The advantage of this arrangement is that the water space being recessed on the inside, and so allowing the valve when open to fall back therein, admits of the water circulating the full bore of the pipes without the slightest impediment.

Figure 11 illustrates the same arrangement of coupling, &c., applied to two pipes in conjunction, and having water space with valves to each pipe worked at same time by one quadrant and spindle, thereby completely regulating the flow of water or other liquid in both pipes in conjunction.

Figure 12 is a section of a T shaped connection with the coupling at each branch, and having one valve which may be used for regulating flow of liquid in either of two of the branches. The plates of the valves have rings (C) of india-rubber or other material at outside of each surface, which are kept in their place by small circular plates tightened by means of screw bolt and nut. These elastic or other rings when the valve is closed fit against the edge of water space at juncture with pipe thus making a water-tight joint.

Figure 13 is an illustration of the couplings applied to a number of sockets cast on a water space, having one or more valves to regulate flow of water in some.

Figure 14 and 15 indicate the application of the coupling when a T or other shaped connection (T) is required to be made in an existing pipe. To do this a hole is cut in the pipe and a T shaped iron or other metal (Q) is inserted; this T shaped has a worm at long end passing through a gland in the branch connection, and having iron collar, elastic or other ring and nut for screwing up; the branch connection has also a flange at end fitting against pipe, between which and the pipe elastic or other packing is compressed by means of the screw T and nut, thereby making a tight joint at both points.

Figure 16a, 16b ,are a section and plan respectively of a similar branch to that last described, by having a cross iron (Q) with two screw ends, and two gland collars and packings. This plan is suitable where a straight T connection is required, and by the connection being shaped, as shewn on plan, the full water space is preserved throughout.

Having now described the nature of my said Invention, and the manner of performing the same. I would have it understood that what I claim in this my present Invention is, “the coupling and in the fittings thereof, and the valves to use in connection therewith, substantially as herein described and set forth”.

Patent Figures


  1. The London Gazette, 31st May 1872.

  2. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday, 15th June 1872.

  3. The London Gazette, 28th May 1875.