The Maytag Family of Two-Cycle Engines

Stove Leg

Courtesy of Marvin Maitre and W. J. Rundle.

Marvin Maitre and W. J. Rundle

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Marvin Maitre is a heavy equipment operator living at 648 33rd, Des Moines, Iowa, 50312. He has been collecting all kinds of gasoline engines for about ten years but has been especially active with May tags.

W. J. Rundle is a mining engineer living at 2565 E. Kleindale Road, Tucson, Arizona, 85716. He has been collecting for 2-1/2 years.

Please send your comments or questions to one or the other.


The Maytag Company of Newton, Iowa manufactured small two-cycle gasoline engines primarily for use on washing machines. These engines appeared first as an upright single around 1911 and the horizontal twin was terminated in 1952

Maytag 1 h.p. upright 'Stove Leg' single. Battery and coil ignition.

Maytag 1/2 h.p. upright single. Note priming cup on cylinder wall and carburetor bolted to main bearing mounting.

For the most part, engine collectors have tended to ignore the Maytags in favor of the larger engines. A typical statement from a collector will include the names and horsepower ratings of the larger engines, 'and a couple of Maytags.' The writers believe that many collectors are interested in the Maytags and in some areas there is increasing interest, particularly among collectors who are limited in space. Because of this increasing interest and of the authors' personal interests in them, this article has been prepared for publication in GEM so that the information will be available to collectors and will not be lost through the passing of time.

Maytag 1/2 h.p. upright single. Battery and coil ignition. Note boss on side of Cylinder wall.

The authors have collected this and even The Maytag Company has not cleared up the questions even though cooperation has been good. If any readers have information to confirm or to contradict statements in this article, the authors will be pleased to hear. Pictures and information on models not shown here are particularly solicited.

The Maytag Two-Cycle Gasoline Engines

Sometime around 1911, the Maytag Company of Newton, Iowa, added gasoline power to washing machines. There is some difference of opinion among collectors as to the year that the engines first used on washers were actually made by Maytag. The first Maytag engines, called 'Multi Motors,' were upright and were offered in 1/2 h.p. on the washer and in 1/2 or 1 h.p. for other uses. There seems little doubt that the Maytag engine was essentially identical to that made by the Elgin Wheel and Engine Company. One old-time collector believes that Maytag did not manufacture any upright engines and that those uprights sold on Maytag washers by Maytag were power units made by Elgin.

Maytag 3/4 h.p. Model 82 with glass fruit jar gas tank.

This is a picture of Mr. Jess Hughes, aged 92 of Blue Licks, Kentucky making brooms at Central Kentucky Steam and Gas Engine Assn. at Paris, Kentucky at their reunion last July 1973. Picture by Sally Weber, Box 392, Winchester, Kentucky.

Maytag 3/4 h.p. Model 92 long frame.

Another collector agrees with what Maytag says about their early engines, which is that Maytag made the 1/2 h.p. and 1 h.p. uprights from 1911 until 1923 when the 3/4 h.p. horizontal single, Model 82 was introduced. This seems to be confirmed by an early Maytag advertisement which announced that manufacturing facilities had been greatly expanded in order to meet the demand for the Multi-Motor washer and to be able to offer them for other power uses.

A testimonial letter in that advertisement quotes the use of a Maytag 1/2 h.p. for operation of a small printing press beginning in November 1913.

Just what happened between Elgin and Maytag is not known. The Maytag Company has cooperated in answering many questions but remains silent on this one. However, the Maytag is so close to the Elgin engine, as noted by pictures, that there must have been some arrangement or exchange of personnel between the two companies. Elgin was still advertising 1/2 and 1 h.p. engines, apparently identical to Maytag, in the November 1913 issue of Popular Mechanics. This makes it seem that both Elgin and Maytag may have made similar engines in the period of 1911-1913. From personal observation, it is apparent that the Maytag Model 82, the first horizontal single cylinder engine, very closely followed the upright in design. Either the design was copied or the 82 was designed by the same engineers that designed the upright. It would be interesting to hear from anybody who has an Elgin similar to the Maytag upright or who can tell how to distinguish between them.

When the Maytag twin was introduced in 1937, a  pamplet describing it stated that Maytag introduced the first engine powered washer in 1914. This does not agree too closely with a letter from Maytag which indicates 1911 as the starting date for the manufacture of upright engines, but it does indicate that Maytag was using engines at this time.

Maytag 3/4 h.p. Model 92, short frame, shallow tank.

Another unexplained observation is that the available pictures indicate the Elgin engines had sloping walls on the gas tank while pictures show vertical walls on the tank of an early Maytag washer engine even though all of the uprights that the authors have seen have sloping tanks. Also, the Elgin pictures do not show a boss on the side of the cylinder that is on all upright Maytags. On some early Maytags it was taped for a priming cup.

An interesting version of the horizontal single was made in 1918 and 1919. It had a glass fruit jar as the gas tank. The short period of manufacture suggests that it was not successful and it can be speculated that it was a significant fire hazard. Maytag has offered no explanation as to why the horizontal with a fruit jar gas tank was made in 1918, almost five years ahead of the date reported for introduction of the Model 82 horizontal single.

In 1923, the Model 82 was introduced. It was very similar in design to the upright and had the same carburetor. However, all Model 82 engines were equipped with a magneto in the flywheel and a foot pedal starter using a flat belt was included. This model copied the upright design in having a single main bearing lubricated with a grease cup.

In 1927, a revised horizontal single cylinder engine had two main bearings, a kick starter and a new type carburetor. Maytag has stated that Model 82 covered the period from 1923 when the horizontal engine was introduced through 1937 when the first twin, Model 72D was introduced. However, most collectors refer to the revised engine with two main bearings that first appeared in 1927 on the Model 92 washer as Model #92. The Table shows the three main versions of Model 92 and the illustrations show the first two; that is, the long frame and the short frame shallow tank. From a comparison of serial numbers, it would appear that over a half million of these engines were built in the ten-year period beginning in 1927. Collectors consider that various modifications of the Model 92 included submodels 31, B, 33, G, 11, and 111. Maytag does not recognize those as engine models and it may be that they were models of washers and the fact that the engines may have had slight differences did not make them different in Maytag's record keeping. If any reader can identify any of these models, the authors will appreciate receiving the information.

In 1937, the twin Maytag, Model 72D was introduced. In 1942, slight revisions changed the model to 72DA and this continued until 1952 when Maytag dropped the engines and started using Briggs and Stratton engines on gasoline washers. A few twin engines were sold with 110 volt or 6 volt generators for portable lighting and some washers had an auxiliary belt driven generator for battery charging. In addition, a few twins were sold to a company that made them into a rotary lawmower. One of the illustrations shows the mower. It is rumored that the upper main bearing of the engine frequently failed for lack of lubrication when the engine was mounted with the shaft vertical as in the mower and Maytag refused to continue supplying engines for mowers because of the bad publicity.

Maytag 1 h.p. Model 72 DA twin as power unit for rotary lawn mower.

Many stories are told about Maytag engines and their dependability. Certainly, they filled a need in reducing the workload of farm wives. For the Maytag Company, those engines opened the door to sell a new washer. And when electricity arrived on the farm, many electric Maytag washers with electric motors were sold because of the outstanding performance of the gasoline Maytags. They also were useful in teaching the rudiments of internal combustion engines to farm boys.

As more collectors become interested in old gasoline engines, the Maytags are moving up to the position of interest that they deserve.