October 29, 2022 | Last updated Jun 30, 2023

Don Stiegert’s Hanger Machine

Yesterday, I posted a photo of a mystery machine, a recent donation to the Nebraska State Historical Society by Don Stiegert of Fremont.

It really isn’t a mystery at all. Don is the inventor of this clever contraption that was used at the Pendleton Factory in Fremont, Nebraska.  Don recently showed us just how it works, and gave us the history behind his creation.

Don worked for Pendleton from 1967 to 1992, and he was responsible for keeping the 120 to 130 pieces of machinery working at the Fremont factory.

 

Don Stiegert working at the Pendleton factory
Loaned for copy by Don Stiegert

 

The Fremont factory focused on making women’s wear, mostly wool skirts, slacks, and shorts. They also made some polyester clothes for summer.

Garments were placed on hangers after completion.  As you can imagine, workers had repetitive motion injuries, due to clamping hangers on garment after garment.  Workers had issues with pain in their thumbs and wrists, and management was concerned about carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.  Don was asked to come up with a solution.

 

Hangers waiting to be attached to garments.
Loaned for copy by Don Stiegert

 

Don has a knowledge of pneumatics and decided to design a machine that ran on a double-acting air cylinder.

 

The hanger machine as it was used at the factory.
Loaned for copy by Don Stiegert

 

A hanger, with clamps open, was placed into the machine. The garment was placed between the clamps, and with a press of the foot pedal, the machine closed and locked the clamps. The machine was not only safer for employees, it was also more efficient. Workers estimated that they could hang 10 garments within a minute with the use of the machine.

Thanks to Don Steigert for donating this wonderful piece of manufacturing history to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

-Laura Mooney, Senior Museum Curator

 

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