The Real McCoy


As a teen, McCoy traveled to Scotland to study mechanical engineering. He had trouble finding skilled work when he returned to America. Instead, he became a fireman with the Michigan Central Railroad. One of his duties was oiling steam engine parts. The oiling had to be done frequently and required the train to stop.


In 1872, McCoy developed an automatic lubricator that spread oil evenly over a train's engine while it was still moving. The invention allowed trains to run for long periods of time without stopping, which saved both time and money. McCoy was a prolific inventor, securing dozens of patents in his lifetime.

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