W1716 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from William Dunn
Feb 10 1885
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten 784 Lexington Ave., New York, New York
From: Cooper Institute, [New York, New York]
Yours of yesterday was received. As to the precise time when the Car Models &c will be ready, I at present cannot answer.1 The Patterns &c for the Models have been under way for the last 2 or 3 weeks but, it depends on a business I am negotiating to-day whether I can devote more time to the subject at present or not. The Patterns for the full sized Couplers are in Buffalo, excepting the new parts, I have made here for the improvements, and I do not want them sent without having it known where to stow them. As they are very bulky and heavy and I have not place to put them. And they would ultimately have to be "carted" at an expense to a Pattern Makers Shop, as they will have to be altered before being adapted to the improvements. The question to decide is whether the Device should be presented in the best possible shape, or attempt to negotiate it as it is. The first as any one can understand, involves expense, as well as time and attention. If the improvements are to be utilized of course, they ought to be embodied at once, delay only accomplishes fatal results.2 The fact that there was nothing to prevent a Patent from being obtained on the principle of operating the Hook-Bar from the pivotal point, was not news to me, because I had had the subject investigated satisfactorily to me. And my experience &c in the science of mechanics warrants me in relying on my own judgement in discriminating between two or more apparently conflicting constructions to those who have not devoted their attention to such subjects.
I do think that it would have been better for all parties if I had carried out my original intention and had the Patent taken out without delay as I had partially [made] arrangements to day, and could have effected quite easily. As it is the uncertainty of the whole procedure has been the means of allowing the most favorable opportunities that have yet presented themselves to slip by, I shall not urge the necessity of any particular course here after having explained the matter more fully and often than the circumstances actually required. I have gone with the Models as far as is necessary for the present. And I cannot see where there can possibly be a "demand" for the Couplers unless it is created by showing its capabilities and advantages. I agree with you that the "Model & Patterns should be prepared so as to meet them at every corner," but I do not see my way clear to involve myself in much further expense and labor without knowing what course is likely to be pursued. I have expressed what ought to be done which was apparently acquiesced in and have endeavored to carry out the idea as far as I feel it prudent to do so. I know the improvements are the most important features in the whole Device, because the principle is original and isolated. As my devices usually are and to bring the conception to practical and successful forms, motions and measurement. I am occupied more time and thoughts an labor than most persons would imagine all of which has not been from mere amusement nor for aggrandizement but from a desire to improve the device by simplifying and to overcome defects my knowledge of the defect business has enabled me to discover [sic]. I think it was decidedly unfortunate that you did not select some Patent Attorney who could have been more prompt in conducting the business if they required as much time with others it looks to me that their practice would become limited as there are others in New York who no doubt are as reliable as they I have then written fully on the subject and candidly. Although I know that the success of the business depends almost entirely on my exertions and information as to details of structure &c I am willing to lend [more??] and because I know it is requisite. But I do not consider that I am bound to hold myself in readiness so as to suit the convenience of any one, left the Model Couplers which were in Buffalo and intact and in good condition. If you want them & can use them send for them.
1 Mr Dunn and Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten corresponded a great deal concerning the car-coupler patents and models. Apparently, Mr. Dunn rescheduled or outright cancelled numerous meetings with Dr. McQuesten, and the model couplers that were to be sent to Calvin Brooks were delayed several times and it is not certain if and when he received them at all. See W1728.
2 Dunn had recently begun working on a patent application for improvements on a train car coupler which he had already patented (W1707, W1711, W1712, W2656, W2667, W1532, W2671, W2675, W1714, W1721, W1741). After several years of investing in Dunn's unsuccessful efforts to sell his patents, Calvin Brooks and Isaac were quite disappointed with him and were attempting to obtain the patents and related materials as compensation for Dunn's apparent failure to repay Isaac (see W2609 and links). For more on Dunn, see W2554a.