We may dread oil changes, but these beasts we call cars require a lot of love and attention to help us get from point A to point B. Oil helps lubricate internal combustion engines and without oil there would just be too much heat, friction, and extensive damage.
In 1924, Kitchener’s own Wilfrid H. Schlee invented the signal light on a car’s instrument panel that warns a driver of low oil pressure. This little light on our dashboards has now become a standard feature on most modern cars. Not to be confused with the oil indicator that states when to change the oil, the Wil-Tel Automatic Oil Signal comes into play when you have low oil pressure. Vehicles with oil warning lights connect to a sensor that reads the oil pressure through a diaphragm attached to the engine.
As for Wilfrid H. Schlee himself, he has played many roles in the early development of the Region of Waterloo. Born on March 21st, 1897, he was the son of George Schlee (father) and Eva Hallman (mother). Alongside Jacob Kaufman, A. L. Breithaupt, and Louis Weber, his father, George founded the Berlin Rubber Company. His father stayed with the Berlin Rubber Company until 1906 when he sold his shares to Mr. A. L. Breithaupt.
After selling his shares, George Schlee then founded Kitchener Buttons Limited where he had his three sons as his associates; Ervin, Eden and our oil signal inventor Wilfrid. At the button factory, Wilfrid was an accountant and was there during the company’s shift when they began to manufacture furniture and radio-control knobs. In 1932, Wilfrid opened a market for those specialties and a Yo-Yo Stop in Great Britain.
Although an accountant, creativity can stem from anywhere, and sometimes our passions surface through invention and/or innovation. For Wilfrid H. Schlee it was his spark of ingenuity shown through the Wil-Tel Automatic Oil Signal - and for that we thank him for saving cars one engine at a time.