Motziner Auto Sparker

Content Tools

Route 2, Box 103A, Chesterton, Indiana 46304.

In your September-October 1976 issue I read the letter where in Glenn Karch was interested in any information about the 'Auto Sparker.' This struck a chord of memory of my boyhood days. I remember seeing ads in the Farm Magazine about the 'Motziner' Auto Sparker. This was actually a 6 to 10 volt generator of D. C. current. It had two poles and an armature with about 6 or 8 segments. Its voltage was controlled by a small flyball governor mounted on the armature shaft on the opposite end from the friction wheel, which in its operation tilted the entire generator which determined the pressure which engaged the friction wheel against its driver; which was normally the outer rim of a gas engine flywheel. It looked something like this:

I lived on a farm about 6 miles east of Crown Point, Indiana. Our local general store was at Winfield, which was a stop on the Erie R.R. The local store keeper also had an IHC motor baler which was run by about a 4 HP IHC gasoline engine. Sometime between 1912 and 1915, he mounted one of these Auto Sparkers on this engine which he used for several years.

When I was about 14 years old which was 1917, I was visiting this man and noticed the Auto Sparker lying on his workbench. The governor assembly was missing. I expressed interest in it. He said the governor had gotten lost and since I liked the Auto Sparker he was going to give it to me. I was delighted since I was very interested in electrical gadgets. Edison was my hero!

With great joy I took the Auto Sparker home. I took it apart to see how it was made. It had two tubular brush guides each side of the connector housing. Three of the brushes were very nearly worn down to nothing. I found that the carbon center of a flashlight battery was about the same diameter size as the brushes and they worked okay. The terminal connections were of the spring clip type. The friction material on the drive pulley was worn down to the retaining flanges, so I removed it and used the hub as a flat belt pulley.

My father was a dairy farmer and the milk had to be cooled after each morning and evening milking. We had a Fairbanks Morse 1 HP 'Jack Junior' gasoline engine, which was used to pump water to cool the milk. I belted the Auto Sparker to a 6' pulley on the engine to drive it. This furnished enough current to supply the ignition for the engine and also light a 32 cp automotive 6V bulb. The pump house was close to our dining room window, so I ran two copper wires into the dining room and presto, we had electric light in there whenever the engine was pumping water. We were the first in our neighborhood to have an electric light in our house.