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Couse Laboratories

Kibbey W. Couse was the son of the Painter, Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936), who settle in Taos, New Mexico, and is best known for his paintings of southwestern Indians, especially those featured by the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. The most famous, is of an Indian chief, modeled by Ben Luhan.

Kibbey Couse founded Couse Laboratories, Inc., an New Mexico corporation, and developed a mobile machine shop that had application in the oil field industry. In 1936, he acted on an idea to develop a version that could be used to service airplanes at remote airstrips, the Couse Mobile Airport. He set up a development laboratory at Hedden Place, East Orange, New Jersey, a short distance from the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics, Newark, New Jersey. This school had been recently founded by Charles S. (Casey) Jones to train aircraft mechanics. Since aircraft mechanics would be the primary users of the Couse Mobile Airport, this would be a natural source for acquiring expertise need to adapt the mobile machine shop to aviation uses. And since Couse considered China to be a primary market for future sales of the finished product he looked specifically for a Casey Jones graduate from China.

Students in front of the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics (Seated, Jimmy Chin of NY. Standing, left to right, Joe Young, Jimmy Chin of Newark, Sun Moy, ?, ?).

Jimmy Chin in the park near the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics ------>


Students (including Jimmy Chin and Joe Young of Newark Chinatown) in front of a monument in the park next to the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics.

He hired Joseph Eng Young. Joe also had a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tri-State College, Angola, Indiana and had skills in welding that the others did not possess. On his later application for security clearance he listed his skills as:

1. Airplane & Engine Mechanic
2. General Mechanic
3. Welding
4. Drafting

Since the Couse Mobile Airport had a welding component, Joe Young was chosen.

This is Joe at the entrance to Hedden Place.

Working on parts for the new Couse Mobile Airport.

In order to implement the Couse Mobile Airport, Joe had to come up with some new designs that were later patented. The introductions to the patents give a flavor to what these involved...

Here is a description of the Power Take-off from a post-War brochure:

The initial prototype of the Couse Mobile Airport was finished in 1939. It was a little too tall for the garage door in which it was built at Hedden Place. They had to let some of the air out of the tires to get it out.

This shows the Couse Mobile Airport (CA) along side an earlier mobile machine shop. Note the two addresses.


The Couse Mobile Airport

The Chinese government couldn't afford to buy any of them, but the U.S. government had an interest. It had been featured in an issue of Popular Science or Popular Mechanics.


 In order to finance the development of the aviation mobile machine shop, Kibbey Couse would occasionally, with great reluctance, sell one of his father's paintings. With the completion of development, and to enable production, he went to New York and secured a financial partner, Murray Thompson.


With this financing they moved to 300 Passaic St., Newark. The development arm continued to be Couse Laboratories. The equipment was produced by Couse Manufacturing. Replacement and repair parts were handled by Couse Service.


1939 to 1944


First Type Shop ("CA") Built at New Plant

drawn by Robert Sutphen


 K. W. Couse, Entrepreneur  M. Thompson, financier from N.Y.
 H.H. House, Brother In-Law  G. Beimer, foreman from N. M.
 W. Nelson, Machinist  J. Young, Engineer
 E. Lujan, son of the Chief painted by E.I. Couse  J. Dusche, janitor of Hedden Place

G(eorge) Beimer brought along a younger brother, Joe, who met his future wife at Couse resulting in:

Footnote to Progress

First Girl at Couse + First Couse Romance

= Noreen Beimer

Standing: Finance Person, Joe Young, Gersten(foreman), H. H. House, Murray Thompson

Seated: Finance Person, Webster

Morning shift in the Passaic Street factory (George Beimer, seated, right; Joe Young, standing, right)


The Type "A" and "B" Shops were built for the Navy. They were awarded the Navy "E" for excellence.

The Couse Mobile Airports were used on island airstrips in the Pacific Ocean.

The Type "W" and "L" were built for the Army.


There were different chassis, because the Army and the Navy had different requirements.

A lot of Couse Shops were purchased for use on the Burma Road campaign.

After securing security clearances, they also started work on some secret projects. In particular, Couse built the mechanical truck-mounted mounts for Radar being developed by Raytheon for the Army Signal Corps. They were given black-box specifications for where the electronic components would eventually be placed, since at the time they had no idea as to what the equipment was for. The black-boxes were on a high boom that had to be able to be control-rotated through a full 360 degreee rotation in high winds. Joe developed a technique for controlling the rotation by means of a small gear driving the edge of a large gear. For this, he was awarded a raise of $15 a week, which was highly unusual, due to war-time price control regulations. Otherwise, he gained increased money only by being able to work as much overtime as he wanted. His deliverables to the government during the war were in the form of draftsman's drawings of the design specifications, which were delivered to the government under armed guard.

Joe also had an idea that ended up in a collabortative patent with Couse and Sutphen, the illustrator:

This patent was never developed.

After the war, Couse tried to market civilian versions of its products, especially to returning service men. Here are some of the advertising materials:







None of these succeeded and Couse Laboratories and Couse Manufacturing were closed and the people were laid off. Couse Service continued, to support the requirements of the original contracts to guarantee availability of spare parts. Lujan couldn't find a job on the East Coast. and returned to the South West. Joe Young worked at a succession of engineering jobs in the Newark area before retiring.

Copyright ® 2003-4 by Ronald Eng Young based on the recollections and archives of Joseph Eng Young.