Iconic vertical HOLLOSHAFT® motor marks 100th anniversary; was first pump motor to successfully address scarce water in California
01 April 2022

ST. LOUIS (April 1, 2022) – A game-changing vertical motor for deep well pumping introduced in 1922 has played a major role in supplying groundwater to one of America’s largest and most drought-prone agricultural regions: California. 

Now, one hundred years later, the vertical HOLLOSHAFT® motor is still the go-to product for agricultural, industrial and municipal pumping needs, and the U.S. MOTORS® brand is celebrating 100 years of vertical HOLLOSHAFT motor innovation. 

“Developing motors designed specifically for deep well pumping is embedded in our DNA,” said Chris Wiseman, President, Nidec Commercial Industrial Motors & Drives. “We’re proud to be driving the innovative, performance-focused design that makes this motor the most trusted in the industry.”

Now a brand of Nidec Motor Corporation, U.S. MOTORS developed the product in response to a critical need for farms and water districts in California. As the state’s population grew and the temperate climate allowed year-round production of crops to feed a growing nation, reliable pumping of groundwater was urgently needed.

At the time, the 14-year-old company was adjacent to the largest deep-well pumping fields in the world, so their engineers had the advantage of firsthand study in the field and constant contact with pump engineers and the problems facing the great irrigation projects of the West. Engineers also consulted with Johnston Pumps to develop the innovative design, which featured a hollow shaft design for ease of pump impeller adjustment, thrust handling ball bearings, a non-reversing clutch, alternate mounting base sizes and shaft whipping protection.  

The motor featured so many advantages over previous designs at the time that it quickly became the industry standard for accessing groundwater. One example of innovation came from recognizing that irrigation pumps were often required to be idle for months at a time, which can affect performance and longevity. Engineers developed a lubrication system that kept the thrust bearings immersed in oil when the motor was shut down, extending motor life. 

“The vertical HOLLOSHAFT was the first motor that could consistently and reliably deliver the power required to pump the vast amounts of water needed,” said Patrick Hogg, Director of Marketing for Industrial Pumping at Nidec. “It was so well-received that the design became the industry standard.” 

Thanks to the popularity of the vertical HOLLOSHAFT motor, the U.S. MOTORS brand became ubiquitous in the vertical turbine pumping industry, so much that its motor mounting flange dimensions were adopted by NEMA for all motor manufacturers to follow. That standard remains today, Hogg said. 

Of course, engineers at Nidec have improved upon the vertical HOLLOSHAFT design in numerous ways over the years as new materials and technologies have become available. Today the motors are available in unique configurations, tailored to a customer’s specific requirements such as enclosure design to minimize the effects of adverse conditions. The motors are constructed of high-quality materials and are manufactured in a state-of-the-art, ISO9000-2000 facility. 

A major change to the vertical HOLLOSHAFT occurred in 2016 when the U.S. MOTORS Premium SINEWAVE OPTIMIZED™ product line for constant speed pumping was introduced by Nidec. 

“This was in advance of anticipated U.S. Department of Energy mandated efficiency requirements for vertical turbine pump motors and we were able to serve the industry well with this upgrade,” Hogg said.

With an eye to the future, multiple engineering teams at Nidec are currently optimizing designs for a changing climate. For example, they’re working to provide more power in smaller frames to drive deeper wells in regions with falling water tables. Engineers are also testing smart-motors with embedded pump curve knowledge to drive highly efficient, sensor-less constant pressure pump systems.

While many things have changed with the vertical HOLLOSHAFT, Hogg says that one thing has not. 

“What still holds true today as it did back then is the tenacity to be the best, where our dreams-versus-reality mentality results in products that lead the way rather than imitate others. Listening to customers and developing the right features make the vertical HOLLOSHAFT a product that continues to deliver,” he said. 

Nidec Motor Corp has two North American manufacturing plants dedicated to producing vertical HOLLOSHAFT motors for agricultural, industrial and municipal pumping applications. Three warehouses are located in close proximity to agricultural markets and transportation centers, supporting over 150 standard models.

A well-trained direct sales team helps customers select and specify catalog and engineered motors, assisting them with the launch of new products to market faster with motors tailored to their needs. An on-site product service team works closely with EASA shops to quickly resolve customer problems and quickly get failed motors up and running. 
Information on Nidec U.S. MOTORS and Nidec’s broad range of motor lines can be found at  www.usmotors.com.   

About Nidec Corporation, Nidec Motor Corporation and U.S. MOTORS®

Nidec Corporation is the world's No.1 comprehensive motor manufacturer. Based in Kyoto, Japan, Nidec Corporation offers motors ranging from micro-size to super large, as well as application products and services in IT, automation, home appliances, automobiles, commercial and industrial systems, environmental, energy, and many other businesses. Nidec is comprised of approximately 300 group companies employing more than 140,000 people all over the world. 

With headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., Nidec Motor Corporation (NMC) is the leading manufacturer of commercial, industrial, and appliance motors and controls. The NMC product line features a full line of high efficiency motors, large and small, that serve industrial, residential, and commercial markets in applications ranging from agriculture, water treatment, mining, oil and gas, and power generation to pool and spa motors, air conditioning condensers, rooftop cooling towers, and commercial refrigeration. NMC also makes motors, controls, and switches for automotive and commercial markets.

Nidec Motor Corporation’s U.S. MOTORS brand encompasses a complete line of general and special purpose commercial and industrial motors from 1/30 horsepower through 4000 horsepower for a wide variety of applications. Since 1908, the U.S. MOTORS brand has stood for exceptional product reliability and performance. It is one of the oldest and trusted brands in the motor industry and is recognized worldwide as the mark of leadership and technological innovation.