The Ladies Page

Oldest Engines

Courtesy of Denis McCormack, 404 West Timonium Road, Timonium, Baltimore Co., Maryland 21093

Denis McCormack

Content Tools

Forest Grove Trailer Park Ontario, N.Y. 14519

At one time or another, we all talk of the 'good old days' and of how we wish we could be back living them over again. Certainly life was lived at a much slower pace and folks had more time to spend with their families and friends. When I compare the methods of keeping house as we do it today with all the modern electrical appliances, with the methods of 'the good old days', I am sure glad I live in the 20th century. How would you like to take up the rag carpet every spring and beat the dust out when it was hung over the clothes line and then retack it to the floor. Or refill the mattress with fresh straw when it became so lumpy, you could no longer get a good nights sleep. Or to carry water from the well spring and fill the wash boiler on Monday morning and do the weeks wash by the best method available.

The primitive method of washing clothes was for the women to take the clothes down to the river bank and rub or pound them on the flat stones which lined the shores. This method is still in use in some of the Oriental and European countries.

Then the washboard was invented and still is used where nothing better is available. Later came a device which used the principle of suction and forced air through the clothes. This was an inverted funnel, with air tubes to permit the passage of air and water through the clothes. It had a wooden broomstick handle, and was applied in this way to a tubful of clothes. It was effective, but never became popular with the ladies, as it took as much muscle as the rubbing of clothes on the washboard.

Another early implement was in the form of a wooden disk about six or seven inches in diameter and two or three inches thick, in which was inserted on the under side tour wooden pins three or four inches in length and an inch and half in diameter. The apparatus had a long wooden handle, which was used to pound clothes, which were soaped and covered with hot water. This was about the same principal of the old way of pounding clothes on flat stones.

One of the early washing machines consisted of a semi-circular box, the concave bottom on the inside being corrugated with triangular shaped slats. The clothes were rubbed between it and the oscillating rubbing board, which was convex and fitted with similar three cornered slats, and suspended from a round iron pin on either side. It worked back and forth by means of a fixed wooden handle.

Paul was just telling me about a washing machine which was run on water power. I thought he was crazy-all I could think of was a water wheel like was used in feed mills. But he said that his aunt had one. It was hooked up to the water faucet and the pressure of the water worked the agitator.

My first machine was a double tub Dexter, which was powered by an International gas engine. It did an excellent job of washing and rinsing the clothes, but I had to wash when someone was around to start the engine. Paul kids me now and says if we still had that machine, he would be willing do to the wash, as he likes to hear the engine running.

Now, most everyone has an electric washing machine, or an automatic with all the push buttons. I am sure that you all agree with me that you wouldn't trade your modern conveniences with the methods of 'the good old days'.

Now that spring has arrived, we will be getting out more and visiting with old friends and making new ones. Looks like a very busy summer ahead with all of the gas-ups, meetings and reunions. Hope to meet some of you there.

One of the oldest engines at the Florida Show and a most interesting one in respect to method of governing and in design of 'contact matter' was this Huntington made in Ripley, New York and still running well after about 70 years.