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TORBENSEN, VIGGO V.

TORBENSEN, VIGGO Valdemar. (b.11 Sept. 1858-3 Jan. 1947) pioneer in the automotive industry and founder of the Torbensen Axle Company was born in Branderslev, Denmark, the son of Hans Vilhelm and Maren (Josiassen) Torbensen. Viggo's father William was born in Copenhagen and his mother in Gurreby, Denmark. He was educated in Danish public schools and studied engineering at the Naval Technical School, graduating in 1879. After 2 years as a machinist's apprentice and a year working in England, he came to America where he was employed by a succession of firms. In 1892, Torbensen traveled to Germany for further training. Returning to the U.S. in 1899, he designed and produced the first internal automobile gear drive used in this country while managing the DeDion-Bouton Motorette Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1912, he founded the Torbensen Gear & Axle Company at Newark, NJ and moved it to Cleveland in 1915, reincoporating it as the Torbensen Axle Co. with a capital of $1.75 million. By 1917 the company was generating an annual income of $6 million from the sales of 30,000 axles, most of them produced at its 4-acre plant on E. 152nd St. Torbensen axles equipped one out of every three trucks made in the U. S. The founder retired in the early 1920s, when the company was absorbed by the Eaton Axle Co.

He married Evelyn L. Smith of Philadelphia, and they had 3 children, Allen, Clara U. (Mrs Charles J. Long), and Mrs. Margaret Rauchmiller. Torbensen's second wife was Gertrude Stritmater whom he married 5 Aug. 1922. He died in Cleveland 1947 and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.