Maytag Twins or 'Look-a-Likes'?

Charles L. Shelton
March/April 1999
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The twin cylinder Maytag, or 'Model 72,' began its life sometime in 1937 and was in continuous production and distribution until late into the year 1960. Quite a tribute to the popularity of the little twin cylinder. However, some explanation is due at this point in regard to the sale of the twin during the '50s and '60s. I haven't any positive proof 'twins' were being produced by the Maytag company at this time. There is a good possibility the engines distributed at that time had been in 'storage.

'Maytag first advertised the 'twin' as a 'reliable replacement' for the popular one-cylinder or Model 92. The 92 had been available for some ten years prior to the introduction of the Model 72. It is doubtful the twin (despite its long life) ever surpassed or equaled the popularity of the single cylinder 92. The unique sound of the exhaust from a running single cylinder Maytag is still a favorite among today's gas engine collectors. No doubt it is one of the most recognized exhaust sounds heard at any engine show.

Photo #1: This photo provides an overall view of three types of mufflers used by Maytag. There may be others. Reading left to right: the round aluminum muffler was cast by the LeClaire Co.; the flat elongated muffler was from the Simer Co. of Minneapolis, Minn. (see photo #3 for a closer view), and of course the popular flex-tube with the cast iron muffler. This is a short flex-tube used just for the photo. I have had flextubes fifteen to twenty feet long. Photo #1 also shows the 'flywheel' guard, plus the special bracket needed to attach the twin to the underside of a Maytag washing machine.

The twin, or 72 as it was commonly referred to, was used primarily as a source of power for the Maytag washing machines. Even as late as the early '30s, some brands of washers were hand operated; thus a ready power source such as the twin had a great deal of influence on Americans' work habits. However, the twin was also popular on numerous other types of machinery of that time period. These included generating bat tery chargers, corn shelters, water pumps, and a variety of lawn mowers. Despite its diminutive size, the twin cylinder was instrumental in the way tasks that required physical labor were performed during the '30s.

Some said of Maytag twins, 'If you have seen one, you have seen them all, because they all look alike.' Nothing could be further from the truth. Maytag twins are all similar; however, as these photos indicate, there were a number of differences, some were just slight and difficult to spot, but others were much more significant.

One of the most common of these differences was in the design of the fuel tank. The fuel tanks came in a variety of styles and materials. The most popular of these among today's collectors is the tank (parts #S 321) with mounting lugs on all four corners. This particular tank is of cast iron. In August 1937, the fuel tank (part #S-306) which is also cast iron, was in production. It was somewhat different due to the fact that the threaded holes for mounting the engine to a washing machine frame were located in the bottom four corners of the tank. There were no mounting lugs.

Any twin cylinder or 72, as they were dubbed by the Maytag Company, that was fitted with an extended long frame fuel tank is considered a collectible. Maytag twins with that type of fuel tank are much sought-after in today's market. The main reason for this Maytagmania is mostly due to the fact that the extended long frame is not easy to find. Consider yourself very lucky if you are fortunate to have one in your collection. According to what little information is available, the extended long frame was a replacement part, thus not many were produced. This is just speculation on my part and I don't believe anyone can truthfully say how many twins with the long frame were sold by Maytag. Apparently, not many. Another possible reason for the shortage of the long frame was a change in the design of the frame of their washing machine.

Thus another change in the design of the fuel tank was imminent. It also appears that, about this time, Maytag switched to a somewhat smaller aluminum tank, and the extended long frame tank was quickly and quietly obsolete. The extended long frame tank, which carried a parts number of S-322, was now history. The S-322 should not be confused with the S-331. That is also a long frame, however, it was specifically used on the popular Maytag light plant. The S-331 is unusual in appearance and is easy to recognize. It also is cast iron and has four mounting brackets, plus it is much heavier-built than the S-322. The aluminum fuel tank mentioned previously carried a parts number of S-334- This type tank is not high on today's collector list. Unlike the other tanks, it was mounted up under the washer.

Some twins departed the factory with a gray cast iron tank. This type tank carried the parts number of S-339. It also allowed the engine to be mounted to the underside of the washing machine. However, this style required a special bracket. The bracket, a square affair, was itself mounted to the top of the twin cylinder engine. Then the engine, along with the special bracket, was bolted to the underside of the washer. (See photo #1.)

A minor but significant difference in the overall appearance of the twin was the use of several styles of air intake tubes (part #3965). The #3965 was the most common design, but there were others. Most collectors are familiar with the #3965, but other styles have surfaced as the photo indicates. (See photo #2.)

Unfortunately, research has failed to uncover the reasons for these style changes. Most of these air tubes, other than the #3965, lived a short life. The #3965 was in service for an extensive period of time. Over the years I have had considerable experience with different styles of the air intake tubes, and in my humble opinion, there was very little noticeable difference in the performance of the twin regardless of the type air tube used. I was also informed by some so-called Maytag experts that most of the air tubes, other than the #3965, were experimental models.

On my recent trip to the engine show held in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, I discovered another somewhat different air tube. This tube is owned by Richard Bond of Richland, Iowa. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain a decent photo. This air tube was manufactured by the Le-Claire Co., and it was held in place on the twin with two long fine threaded bolts. It also contained what appeared to be a small fiber filter. One would have to suppose the filter was to clean the air as it entered the mixer of the twin. I might add at this point, LeClaire Co. manufactured various castings, and was not connected with the Maytag Company.

Maytag also used an aluminum muffler cast by LeClaire. The company was located in LeClaire, Iowa. See photos #1 and #4 for views of the round aluminum muffler cast by LeClaire. The mufflers used on the twin vary in design and their intended uses are still something of a mystery. No doubt most collectors are familiar with the long flex hose with the round cast iron, ball-type muffler attached on the end of the flex hose. This system was very popular and common, on both the twin and the single cylinder Maytag. The flex hose could be ordered in any length. The length of the flex hose always depended on the location of the washing machine or other machinery being used. Since the twin was, on more than one occasion, used inside a building or home, it was thus necessary to have a flex hose long enough to safely exhaust the fumes outdoors. A number of twins, for various reasons, were not equipped with the popular flex hose system. These types of mufflers, as shown in the photos (#1, #3 and #4) were unique in design and also gave the twin a melodic sound.

I am familiar with the three mufflers mentioned in this article, and there may be others that I am not aware of. All of these systems are highly collectible, especially the mufflers that do not require the flex hose. You will notice the mufflers that do not require the flex hose are mounted directly to the engine. Without the application of the flex hose, this probably limited the use of the engine to the outdoors.

Despite all the various changes in design on a number of parts, the overall appearance of the twin or 72 remained the same. The design of the heads, the body, and the kick-start mechanism remained constant throughout their production. There was a slight change in the configuration of the kick-start pedal. It is the opinion of most collectors this change in design allowed more clearance for the pedal itself. This was probably due to a change in the design of the base of the washing machine. Two exceptions (there may be others) were the 72's used by the Armed Forces on the generator-parachute-pack, and also a number of lawn mowers. These 72's were equipped with a rope-start mechanism. They are also high on today's collector list.

I failed to mention the flywheel guard. All the 72's in the photos (see photo #1) have flywheel guards installed. The guards are highly collectible and are difficult to obtain. The reason for the present-day shortage is simple: when any maintenance or repair was required on the flywheel or the parts it contained, this necessitated the removal of the guard. Since the guard had no effect on the actual operation of the engine, and was regarded only as a safety feature, on most occasions it was usually never replaced and ended its life in the corner of someone's workshop. Thus, a shortage.

One other somewhat insignificant change in the overall appearance of the 72 was the use of the Wico magneto. The flywheel that contained the Wico used a somewhat different design than that of the Eisemann. If you count the cooling fins on a twin equipped with a Wico, you will come up with six fins, while the Eisemann used eight. Is this a significant change? I don't have the answer to the question. You be the judge.


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