28 days of Black Inventions: Lubricating Cup

28 days of Black Inventions

February 18th, 2017

Lubricating Cup

As we normally do this time of year, we’re going to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging 28 of the most influential, world changing inventions by Black People. Our goal is to shed light on some inventions that most people probably didn’t know about, some of the lessor known inventions as well some of the more notable inventions. So, join us on our 28-day journey and you might learn a thing or two.

Lubricating Cup



African Americans have played a major part in the success and growth of America & in many regards the world. The many Inventions that are attributed to African Americans that literally changed the World on a Global Stage. Some well known like The Traffic Light, Invented by Garret A. Morgan or the Jenny Coupler Invented By Andrew Jackson Beard. Others are equally important but lessor known due to their specific job description, not as sexy as the others. The Lubricating Cup fits well in this category.

A major Invention not known to the public. It’s like Wifi at first it didn’t exist and now it does. Most of us do not care how it was discovered as long as it works & continues to work more efficient.The Lubricating Cup was a very important Invention. It allows trains to operate faster & for longer trips because of the device that was created kept the Engine Lubricated. Before The “Automatic Lubricator” most trips were significantly shorter due to the neccessary maintenance needed keep the Engine running smoothly. This device was used for Steam Engines as well. It’s main function was to keep the Engine Oil moist and Lubricated all over the Engine to avoid constant breakdowns.

Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy

The man behind the Invention was Mr. Elijah McCoy a free Canadian Born Black man birthed by two Runaway Slaves from Kentucky. This allowed the McCoy’s the chance to raise their eventual 12 children in a Slavery free society, though eventually moving back to America.  A few years later they resettled in Michigan, a Free State. By the time Young Elijah was 15 his parents arranged for him to study abroad in Scotland where he learned and honed his skills in Mechanical Engineering. He returned America, and despite having these skills he couldn’t find a job due to racial Discriminatory practices even in a “Free State”.

Elijah McCoy was undeterred, he worked as a Fireman & Oiler for the Michigan Central Railway. Here is where he began to Invent the “Automatic Lubricator” or Lubricating Cup. With great success, he received a Patent for his work in 1872. This helped the Rail Industry in a big way all the while keeping down the cost of Maintaining the Engines. Elijah McCoy would go on the receive over 50 plus Patents, ranging from Sprinklers to his own version of a Ironing Board (see Sarah Boone https://tellmehowilooknow.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/28-days-of-black-inventions-ironing-board/).


Editor’s Note: Elijah McCoy is the reason why a popular catch phrase is used. The term “The Real McCoy” was used in advertising for his products, because there were many others selling similar products of lessor quality. However, Mr. McCoy was the originator “And that’s the truth Ruth”#Thankyou


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