About Sven Wingquist
and Gustaf Larsson
We must go back to the time when SKF was established. Sweden
had in the end of 1800 and beginning of 1900 several very
and constructors. One of these was Sven
Wingquist. He started his education at Örebro Technical Elementar
Sven made his early experience in different works shops in USA.
Sven became a technician for textile machines and got after
work at Jonsered employment at Gamlestaden weaving mill.
Here his first job was to solve the bearing problems. The
mill had several steam engines and all of them had a shaft
that went through the mill. These shafts gave power to the
All the main bearings from the steam
engines could not stand and broke down. Sven understood that
because the factory was built in an area of clayey bottom,
the bearing supports were changed. The Göta River was just
beside the mill buildings. Soon he understood that the
shafts were in necessity need of a bearing that could take
ended with his invention of the spherical bearing. We have
now reached 1907. The board of Gamlestaden understood
of this invention and established a new company for the
development of the bearing. They nominated Wingquist as
chairman. This company got the name SKF and was a subsidiary
company of Gamlestaden.
Gustaf Larssson also went in Örebro Technical Elementar
School. Gustaf got experience in England.
It might be very remarkable that these highly educated
persons not emigrated to America. Compare with the
an all those who came back to build Volvo company.
The bearings should be sold under the name Volvo.
Up to 1915 this name was used. The new director Björn Prytz
decided that all bearings from SKF instead should be marked
with the SKF logo. The name Volvo was put in desk for future
use. At this time Prytz employed Assar Gabrielsson as
marketing director and placed him in France.
This was a good opportunity to learn about car production.
He moved back to Gamlestaden 1921 in order to take over SKF.
(the company) was created 1926 as a subsidiary company to SKF
before it 1935 became
sole company. From the beginning the name Volvo was aimed
for the single bearings. This was only for the purpose of Gamlestaden. Note that Gamlestaden had only the new bearing
to produce for the market 1907.
The Volvo bearing was produced for the time being in the
factories of Gamlestaden.
A very small amount of bearings were stamped with the Volvo
logo and delivered on the market, before decision to
changed name to SKF.
The new bearing was manufactured in an old building called
"The Rat House" at Horns Street in the village before a new
production local was built. Later other types of bearings
were incorporated in SKF from Gamlestaden. A official
catalogue was not printed until 1918.
SKF had to fight for their patent.
With this important invention SKF got of course big
problems with illegal production of the bearing.
Patent was taken in several countries, since 1907, as in
Sweden. Another company was NKF, Nordic Bearing Factory,
which produced bearings in a building at Hisingen
This company had employed Carl Leon (Larsson).
He was a man
that also worked in shipping. He had offered NKF his
invention to start production of a spherical bearings. NKF
all other types of bearings (single row)
of that time. His spherical bearing was made that it
just went outside Wingquist's patent. In any case it should
be a long time patent fight to get rid of the production from NKF.
Wingquist wanted to be the head deliverer quickly so he
offered Carl Leon at NKF 1920 a large sum of money
to be paid for 20 years.
See link. This stipulated that Carl
Leon was not allowed to develop his bearing. NKF continued up to 1925 with their
ordinary bearings while Carl Leon withdrew. What today is
left as memory is the old NKF factory building and a pizza
named "Captain Larsson's pizza". This can be ordered at
Fjällbacka restaurant. Wingquist had also problems with
several other "black" producers in other countries of the
world, mainly in Germany. These problems Sven normally
solved by buying the companies. In Sweden at this time there
were 10 bearing producers.
Later it would show up that SKF could lower the prices of
all bearings because of good selling. NKF could not follow
this so they stopped their production 1925 and SKF bought
their factory building at Hisingen 1925 on an executive
This was good in time because Volvo needed the locals to
put the new Volvo cars together. From outside one can
believe that it was much "fox and geese play" behind this
when it happened just in time for Volvo. The building is
today called "Nordkulan" and is important in the history of
The need for transports.
Generally it was a down period for Swedish car industry.
went bankruptcy 1920 and the company was sold out. Under
different names the company had production during a few
years. They built cars according to orders and from left over
Thulin's bankruptcy depended most from the large investment
which had been done because of car production. At the same
time Thulin counted on a large airplane order which not
of war 1918. Another important happening was that Enoch
Thulin death crash with his latest fighter 1920.
Scania including Vabis, built only luxury cars up to
1911. Vabis stopped with private cars and put money only on
lorries. Later Vabis merged with Scania to Scanis-Vabis.
Now it happened that the two important persons for Volvo met
and noted that they had about the same future planes. Gustaf
Larsson worked some years, up
1920 at SKF Gothenburg. He moved then to AB Galco in
Stockholm. At this time many directors and alike went to
restaurant Sturehof at Stureplan Stockholm to get a nice
lunch. Gustaf Larsson tells us this at the funeral of Assar
Gabrielsson 1962. By coincident Gustaf went to Sturehof and met Assar eating from a large dish of red crayfish.
They should have enjoyed the crayfish without any job
talking. From this opportunity the tradition to invite Volvo
employers for Swedish crayfish is descended. I don't think
this happens today because of lack of this special Swedish
Royce wrote their agreement on a napkin when eating together
about car production. Assar and Gustaf wrote a declaration
of intention on a simple paper, which is maintained, about
starting car production 1926.