History of The National Engineering Co.

MAKERS OF MICHIGAN ENGINES

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Calvin sent the History of the National Engineering Co. Makers of Michigan Engines.

May 1895Founded as the Walcott Windmill Company at 923 South Niagara Street to manufacture an improved type of wind pump. For eight years the company carried on a more-or-less successful business with a somewhat doubtful future.

May 1903The windmill business was discontinued and the company was re-organized as the National Engineering Company with a paid-in capital of 30,000 dollars. The principal shareholders were Aaron P. Bliss (President) and Willis G. Van Auken (Vice-President). Both were local business-men and Aaron Bliss had been both a member and past president of the Saginaw Board of Public Works.

The new company began the manufacture of wooden water storage tanks and gasoline engines of various sizes for general farm use. These were known as Michigan engines. This business gave great promise of success and an improved engine for pumping water, known as No. 2 Pumping Engine, was introduced. This engine was sold as the 'New Model' engine and was immediately popular because it was directly coupled to the pump without the use of a pump jack. A large contract was entered into for the supply of these engines with the Kewanee Water and Supply Company of Kewanee, Illinois, and continued in force from four or five years with varying degrees of success but not much profit for the engine builders. Castings for these engines were bought in from a local foundry, and the company were basically machinists.

About 1907When the automobile business was beginning to expand beyond the production capacity of the leading manufacturers, the company decided to take up crankshaft finishing. The plant was moved next door into the larger machine shops of the Moffett Vehicle Bearing Company at 922 South Niagara Street, whose patents, goodwill and business had recently been sold by its principal shareholders Messrs. Bliss and Van Auken to a New York company who had removed it there. In these better equipped machine shops the company undertook the machining and finishing of all the crankshafts used in the two cylinder Reo car and other automobiles.

Later, when the larger vertical cylinder car engine was introduced they finished crankshafts for the four-throw Reo engines. This business continued profitably for five years, and sometime during this time engine manufacture was discontinued. This is believed to have happened in 1908, but the company's entry in the 'Michigan Gazetteer' of 1909-10 lists it as manufacturers of gasoline engines and tanks, and an advertisement in the same publication offers 'New Model and Michigan Gasolene Engines, wood tanks, and automobile parts'. Since the address is given as 923 South Niagara Street and the Moffett Company is shown at 922, this perhaps simply shows that the directory was already out-of-date when published.

From 1912The National Engineering Company continued to operate very successfully in the same line having large contracts with the Buick, Chevrolet, Olds Motor and other companies.

February 19th, 1916The company, including plant, machine shops and goodwill were sold to a group of investors from Lansing, but continued in the same business on a larger scale and under the same name.

At about this time a contract was entered into with the Northway Motor and Manufacturing Company of Detroit for finishing 56,000 crankshafts for car engines and later a similar contract was made with the Republic Motor Truck Company of Ama for 10,000 crankshafts.

1917The machine shop capacity was increased from 275 to 400 crankshafts a day, or about 125,000 a years, with a contract value of almost half a million dollars. This gave employment to over 150 machinists and other workmen.

1919The company was bought by General Motors and renamed the Michigan Crankshaft Company.

1920The company was renamed the Chevrolet Transmission Company.