Brunson Instrument Company

A Blog for Metrology Enthusiasts

Sixty Years in a Cave!

David Buck
By David Buck on Feb 26, 2020 7:30:00 AM

Sixty years ago today, February 26, 1960, Brunson Instrument Company went underground. Literally.

The move to our cave location became necessary when Brunson started adapting surveying equipment for the tight tolerances of the jet age on behalf of what would become one of our biggest customers, the Boeing Airplane Company. The year was 1948, and Brunson’s downtown factory just couldn’t cut it… so founder A. N. Brunson had an idea:

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Minus 58 Degrees Fahrenheit

David Buck
By David Buck on Nov 15, 2019 2:10:07 PM

And the Brunson gear was ‘the only one that worked’

Rear Adm. Richard Byrd knew how to survive in extreme cold. In 1939, the explorer would set out for his third expedition to the Antarctic. It was his first with U.S. government sponsorship.

The 150 servicemen under his command would load four small aircraft, a massive, 33-ton vehicle called the ‘Snow Cruiser,’ along with dog teams, provisions, tents and cold weather gear aboard two vessels, the USS Bear and North Star. The ships steamed southward out of Boston toward the icy continent 80 years ago today: November 15, 1939.

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Welcome to the cave, Governor Parson!

David Buck
By David Buck on Oct 23, 2019 3:33:41 PM

Governor Parson is pictured at left with Brunson Instrument Company President Deighton Brunson.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson toured Brunson’s unique underground factory in Kansas City, Missouri on Tuesday, October 22nd. Founded in 1927 in downtown Kansas City by inventor A. N. Brunson, the employee-owned company is now represented by third-generation leader Deighton Brunson. Deighton expressed his appreciation to the governor for state programs that have helped support valuable training of Brunson employees.

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A Better Mousetrap

David Buck
By David Buck on Jun 27, 2019 12:01:09 PM
By David Buck

The Great Depression may have been the best thing that ever happened to Brunson Instrument Company.

Amber Nelson Brunson repairing precision surveying equipment in his shop, 1929.

The founder's story is like many of the early 1900s: an ambitious, gifted and intelligent young man moves from a hardscrabble farm (and a log cabin!) to the big city to look for work.

Amber Nelson Brunson was forced to leave school after the 3rd grade to help his family make ends meet, but what he lacks in formal education he makes up for in mechanical aptitude, design skills and determination.

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Brunson Training is a Continued Tradition

Deighton Brunson
By Deighton Brunson on Jun 12, 2014 2:58:00 PM

My grandfather was obsessed with several things during his lifetime. One obsession was any wild game whose habitat included the land, sea, or air. Another was the quality of his products. He told me one time that if I cheapened the instruments after he was gone, he would come back to haunt me. Another of his obsessions, and not the least, was ensuring the success of his customers. He truly was less concerned about selling products than he was about making sure people knew how to use them after they were purchased. It is somewhat sad that today’s culture, which is oversaturated with hyperbole, will probably cause people to doubt what I am saying. But I kid you not, that’s how he was.

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Brunson Hangs Out with the Penguins

Deighton Brunson
By Deighton Brunson on Apr 30, 2014 10:03:31 AM

In 1927, my grandfather, A. N. Brunson, was 22 years old. That was the year he established Brunson Instrument Company in the back room of a map business in downtown Kansas City, repairing surveying instruments. When the Great Depression came along, he was fortunate to keep very busy because no one could afford new instruments – so they came to him to repair their old ones.

My grandfather was a very persistent thinker and inventor. He saw the instruments that came across his workbench, and analyzed what went wrong with them. He was always thinking of ways to improve their design. During the dustbowl of the 1930s, he saw how dust destroyed the main bearing systems of those transits and levels. He knew there had to be a better way. This led him to his very first patent – the “Brunson dustproof ball bearing spindle”. It became a hit and he started retrofitting this base on a lot of other manufacturers’ instruments.

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How the Brunson Rock Pile Came to be.

Deighton Brunson
By Deighton Brunson on Apr 15, 2014 12:03:00 PM

My grandfather,   A. N. Brunson, was a real character. He was always doing something that hadn’t been done before, just to see if he could do it. He especially enjoyed doing those things if other people said it couldn’t be done. One of those things was making the Rock Pile.

By the late 1940s, Brunson Instrument Company occupied a two story building in downtown Kansas City. We had been manufacturing surveying instruments, but by that time, my grandfather was getting into industrial measurement equipment. The demands of making this new, highly accurate product caused him to realize that his building was being rattled by street cars and trucks on the street. He and his crew had to wait until the wee hours of the morning to perform some of the delicate manufacturing operations and calibrations required for this new product line. Finally he got tired of this.

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About the blog

The Brunson blog is designed to be a platform for collaborative exploration in the field of metrology. You can expect to explore new Brunson products, hear from industry professionals invited to be contributing editors, and gain insight from customers who use Brunson products. So if you are one of the chosen few people who understand that Metrology is not a study of the weather, please join us here.