Roy Drawz was tired of shoveling coal to heat his Minot home, so he invented a machine to do it for him. He was no amateur in heating, for he worked as an engineer at the heating plant at Minot State Teachers College. Roy took old automobile parts and other scrap metal and built a contraption to do the job. It was crude at first, but when he installed it in his own home, it worked marvelously well, and it revolutionized heating in areas where there were large deposits of lower-grade coal, or lignite coal.
Mr. Drawz’ automatic coal-stoker for home-heating featured a “hopper” – a large container that tapered downward and discharged coal into the furnace. It also had a tuyère nozzle to inject air. The most brilliant feature was a thermostat to control combustion, allowing his automatic stoker to push more air and feed more coal as the house cooled, and to shut off air and fuel as the house warmed.
It was on this date, in 1929, that the Minot Daily News published details about Roy Drawz’s invention. At first, Drawz called the home version of his coal-stoker the “Electric Slave.” For larger buildings he referred to it as the “Robot Stoker.” He filed for a patent in 1928, and it became finalized in 1931, with the device now called the “Drawz Stoker.”
Mr. Drawz established a company to manufacture the Stoker and opened shop on U.S. Highway 83. The company claimed the stoker led to a “perfect flame” that burned lignite-coal so efficiently that it left “only fine ashes,” rather than large “clinkers.” For additional convenience homeowners could arrange their coal-doors and coal-chutes to feed directly into the storage hopper.
The Drawz Stoker caught on in many areas, especially in Manitoba and North Dakota, and Roy Drawz built up a good business.
Born in 1888, Drawz lived a long life in Minot. He died in 1966 at the age of 78, remembered for his famous invention, the Drawz Stoker – designed especially for North Dakota’s lignite coal.
Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department.
Sources: “Minot-Invented Stoker In Tests Lessens Labor And Cuts Heating Costs,” Minot Daily News, March 16, 1929, p. 1, 2.
U.S. Patent 1833831, “Coal Burning Stoker,” Roy E. Drawz, Minot, N.D., filed August 15, 1928, patented November 24, 1931, "http://www.google.com/patents/US1833831" www.google.com/patents/US1833831 , accessed on September 6, 2013.
“Drawz, Roy E.,” N.D. Department of Health, “Public Death Index,” nd.gov, accessed on September 6, 2013.
“Roy Drawz,” Minot, Ward County, N.D., U.S. Census 1930, 719 4th St. NW, age 42, wife Jannette, age 32, son Clark J. Drawz, age 6.