Remembering Milt Garland

By Dr. Andy Pearson, Ph.D., C.Eng., Member ASHRAE 

This column is the forty sixth in a series exploring refrigeration and heat pump concepts without using jargon.

Milt Garland Tube Ice Maker Patent

Milt Garland's tube ice maker, from U.S. Patent 2,870,612.

Milton W. "Milt" Garland is fondly remembered by many coworkers and industry peers with whom he served in ASHRAE and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) over many years.

He was in many ways a remarkable man, not least because he had the distinction of working for the same company for 80 years, from 1920 until two months before his death in July 2000. He died less than one month short of his 105th birthday. His length of service is all the more remarkable since his college education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during World War I, so he was already 24 years old when he joined the Frick Company as a refrigeration erector.

Within three years of joining Frick, Milt was superintendent of field installation. By the time he retired in 1967, he was vice president for technical services, but he was rehired the next day and worked 20 hours a week as an engineering consultant to the company until May 2000.

Milt was the author or coauthor of 35 U.S. patents, with 16 in other countries, ranging from evaporator design, control valves, ice makers, compressors and a range of freezing techniques.

The length of his career is perhaps best illustrated by the subject of his first two patent applications in 1930. The first is for a thermostatic control arrangement for expansion valves using a temperature-activated switch and a solenoid valve. A few months later he patented a gravity-fed evaporator circuit, an arrangement most of us no doubt think had been around forever.

He worked on many major projects around the world, including cooling the Hoover Dam during its construction, chilling rubber to help wartime production, and aircraft engine environmental testing.

One of his most interesting ideas was for a tube ice maker that formed the ice on the outside of the tubes instead of the inside, as in most other tube ice machines. This was patented by Milt in 1955. Tube ice remains one of the most common methods of making bagged ice for supermarkets.

Milt's advice to younger colleagues was simple. "Don't answer a question if you don't know the answer. Don't worry; worry never solved a problem. Be professional." He also advised that the key to job satisfaction lies in learning to like what you are doing. "Go into something," he said, "and then stay with it, and then like it. You won't like it unless you have expertise, and once you are an expert it's a pleasure."

Milt is remembered in ASHRAE through the presentation by the Refrigeration Committee of the Milton W. Garland Commemorative Refrigeration Award for Project Excellence. The award recognizes the designer and owner of a project that features a non-comfort cooling refrigeration application that incorporates new technology in a unique manner. It is presented at the ASHRAE Winter Conference each year, provided a suitably qualified entry has been received.

Recent winning projects include a large-scale heat recovery system in Vancouver, the application of fuel-cells to supermarket systems in New York state, a solar-powered strawberry freezer in Southern California, the modernization of the San Fernando Brewery in California, and the air conditioning of the Penguin and Puffin Coast exhibit at the Saint Louis Zoo.

ASHRAE's Refrigeration Committee also presents a comfort cooling award. Details of both can be found on the Refrigeration Committee's page ( under Awards. Entries must be approved by the submitting chapter and received by May 1.

Andy Pearson, Ph.D., C.Eng., is group managing director at Star Refrigeration in Glasgow, UK.

Last modified: Wednesday, 13 January 2016, 11:08 AM