ABOUT THE AUTHORS
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
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
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
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
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
Maytag 1 h.p. Model 72 DA twin as power unit for rotary lawn
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