Cummins acquires Jake Brake company

February 14, 2022

Chuck Robinson


Engine maker Cummins is acquiring Jacobs Vehicle Systems, original manufacturer of the Jake Brake, which was invented by Cummins’ founder.

Cummins announced the acquisition on Feb. 9 in a news release.

Jake Brake is a brand of compression release engine brakes. Jacobs Vehicle Systems introduced them in 1961. Clessie Clemens (1888-1968) invented them. Clemens founded Cummins Engine Co. in 1919. He had more than 33 patents for his inventions. He was granted a patent in 1965 for his engine compression brake.

Jacobs Vehicle Systems is a subsidiary of Altra Industrial Motion Corp., and a supplier of engine braking, cylinder deactivation, start and stop and thermal management technologies.

Founded in 1961, Jacobs Vehicle Systems has roughly 600 employees and more than 60 years of experience in engine retarding and valve actuation systems for the commercial vehicle industry. It has produced more than 9 million engine brakes for commercial vehicles.

“(Jacobs Vehicle Systems) brings engineering expertise, best-in-class products and key manufacturing capabilities to Cummins that will allow us to continue developing component technologies that deliver market leading performance and emissions,” Jennifer Rumsey, Cummins’ president and CEO, said in the news release.

Cummins said it plans to maintain Jacobs’ customer relationships and offer improved value and other benefits to the customers of both companies.

Jacobs’ operations will become part of Cummins Turbo Technologies, a business unit led by Shon Wright, Vice President of Cummins Turbo Technologies, that resides within the company’s Components segment.

Jacobs has two primary manufacturing facilities in Bloomfield, Conn., where it is headquartered, and Suzhou, China. Cummins expects to invest in additional. Jacobs’ manufacturing footprint also is expected to help Cummins meet USMCA requirements.

Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins Inc. is a multinational corporation that specializes in diesel and alternative fuel engines and generators, and related components and technology. Cummins sells products in about 190 countries.

History of the Jake Brake

Though it was the engine manufacturer’s founder who invented the compression release engine brake, and the company initially passed on the invention.

The company went public in 1947. (Click here for a timeline of the company’s history.) Its founder retired as chairman of the board in 1955 and moved to California.

A harrowing close call with a train while driving a truck on U.S. 66 downhill through Cajon Pass into San Bernardino, Calf., provided the impetus for Cummins to turn his attention to braking, according “A History of the Jacobs Engine Brake” by his son, C. Lyle Cummins Jr., published in 1985 by the American Society of Engineers.

The son of the inventor’s brother was dating the daughter of the vice president of Jacobs Manufacturing Co., which was a leading manufacturer of drill chucks. When the inventor’s engine company passed on the novel brake concept, it was Jacobs Manfacturing that Cummins approached. They entered into an option agreement in December 1959.

The brakes were tested on trucks from Consolidated Freightways, Pacific Intermountain Express, Willig, Sheldon, O-N-C, and other trucking companies.

Jake Brake was installed in the Cummins NH series engine production units in 1961, and shortly after that in Detroit 71 series engines. LL

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