The Ohio Connections

Content Tools

8710 Vickery Road Castalia, Ohio 44824-9777

I was very interested in the insert from the Stephen B. Church catalog that was printed on page 3 of the April 1995 GEM, along with C. H. Wendel's comments. While I cannot offer an exhaustive explanation of all details surrounding the Joy engines, I can lay a good foundation, and perhaps some other GEM reader will have a further contribution. Most of my data is from local newspaper articles, directories, etc., and reflects the acccuracy one would expect from these sources. I have very little technical information on these engines.

To begin with, I assume that Stephen B. Church is a distributor of the pictured engines, and not a manufacturer. Further, to fully comprehend the following story, one must understand that there are three separate (but closely intertwined) companies involved: the Ohio Motor Company, the Ohio Engine Sales Company, and the Ohio Engine Company. At one point during 1915, all three of these firms were operating concurrently in Sandusky, Ohio.

The early history of the Ohio Motor Company is very interesting, dynamic, and unusual. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to find all the pieces to that puzzle, so that will have to wait for another time. Let me just say that the Ohio Motor Company had by 1901 settled upon their standard line of engines that would be built for the remainder of the company's life. Their early design engineer had left for greener pastures, and the Ohio Motor Company was owned by local investors who were businessmen, not mechanics. The day-today operation of manufacturing engines was attended to by a father-son team, Albert and George Schwer.

There are some hints that they were contemplating manufacturing automobile engines in 19081911 time period, and also may have experimented with aircraft engines, but the sources of these hints were written in second-generation memoirs almost fifty years after the firm folded, so the accuracy in this matter is open to question. Essentially, the company did not introduce any new model lines or make any major technological advances throughout the life of the firm. To the best of my current knowledge, their line of horizontal, four-cycle, side shaft engines (from four to fifty horsepower) were the only product that they built themselves, although other engines were marketed under their name, and with nameplates reading 'The Ohio Motor Company.'

It is noteworthy that Ohio Motor Company president Henry Strong was also the vice-president of the Bay View Foundry Company in later years. Apparently The Ohio Motor Company did not supply their own castings in later years, although they may have done this early in the company's life. In an interesting newspaper article covering the Bay View Foundry, it was noted that their facility was operated by two fifty horsepower Ohio Motor Company engines. One of the engines drove a generator to supply the plant with electricity, and the other engine operated a line shaft network. I would love to see a picture of their engine room!

The Ohio Motor Company president, Henry C. Strong, was an aged man, and conservative in his leadership. He felt that the company's product line was excellent, and needed no improvements (or possibly investments) to maintain its market position. Evidently Ohio Motor Company vice-president and general manager George Schwer disagreed, and there was a falling out between the two men. Formerly the two men were next-door neighbors, but about 1913 George Schwer left the Ohio Motor Company to become the plant manager of the Dauch Manufacturing Company of Sandusky, builders of the Sandusky tractor. He also changed residence, moving away from the Strong household. The Ohio Motor Company lost a good man, and sales dropped.

Around November of 1913 a new name enters the narrative, that of Mack H. Joy. Mr. Joy was not a Sandusky area native, but he and his family moved to Sandusky and founded the proprietorship business named 'The Ohio Engine Sales Company.' This firm did not manufacture any engines, but was strictly a marketing venture. The 1915 Sandusky City Directory lists the Ohio Engine Sales Company at the same street address as the Ohio Motor Company, but with a different telephone number, and with Mack H. Joy as president and manager of the Ohio Engine Sales Company. Mack Joy must have been a successful salesperson, because a newspaper article of December 1914 reports that in the past thirteen months the Ohio Engine Sales Company had sold $110,000 worth of Ohio Motor Company engines, and $79,000 worth of engines purchased from manufacturers outside of Sandusky. Exactly what other company or companies manufactured the other $79,000 worth of engines, I do not know, but I hope that some GEM reader can shed some light on this question. One should note here that the $ 110,000 figure represents sales of the Ohio Motor Company's line of sideshaft engines, and the $79,000 figure represents sales of what has become known in old engine collecting circles as 'push-rod Ohios.'

It is a matter of intense interest to me to know what firm actually built the 'push-rod Ohio' engines. It is, of course, possible that the Ohio Motor Company did build the engine themselves, but the documentation that I have been able to find locally indicates that they did not build them, but rather just marketed them. These engines were built with either a 'hot-head' or with a water-cooled cylinder head style. These engines were also marketed by the Consolidated Gas Engine Company, New York, NewYork (see C. H. Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, page 106), the Lazier Gas Engine Company of Buffalo, New York, and possibly others. Of course, the Ohio Motor Company already had a business relationship with Lazier by 1914 since the large Ohio Motor Company side-shaft engines were being sold with Lazier nameplates. A nicely restored example of a 10 HP is on display at the Cool-spring Museum. It is interesting to note that according to local newspaper accounts, the Ohio Motor Company also built Lazier's line of vertical multiple-cylinder engines ranging from 65 HP to 300 HP in their Sandusky plant. .However, I have no verification of this from any secondary source.

According to newspaper accounts of the time, the smallest engine offered by the Ohio Motor Company was a six horsepower, although the Stephen B. Church folder clearly lists sizes from 4 to 50 horsepower. Mack Joy realized that the Ohio Motor Company was missing a lot of sales by not offering a smaller engine, and he further realized that company president Henry Strong could not be persuaded to add the smaller engines to his product line. Rather than continue to sell small engines built by outside concerns, Joy opted to enter the small engine manufacturing industry himself. In December 1914 a new firm was incorporated, the Ohio Engine Company. Mack Joy was president, and Charles S. McCarthy (Sr.) was superintendent. Mr. McCarthy also was not a Sandusky native, and first appears in the 1915 Sandusky City Directory as being 'retired.'

The Sandusky Foundry and Machine Company had recently vacated its former property, and had entered a new plant facility. Newspaper accounts of the time indicate that the Ohio Engine Company found a temporary home in an old building of the Sandusky Foundry &. Machine Company, and began manufacturing operations about early April of 1915. According to newspaper accounts they built engines in the 1 to 6 horsepower range, although the Stephen B. Church folder clearly lists sizes from 2 to 12 horsepower. I presume (but cannot prove at this time) that these engines carried name tags identifying them as Joy engines.

It should be noted at this point that the Ohio Engine Sales Company is now apparently disbanded. The Ohio Engine Company continued the sales function offered by the former Ohio Engine Sales Company, that is to say, the Ohio Engine Company built and sold the engines that it manufactured, while continuing to act as a sales agent for the larger sideshaft engines built by the Ohio Motor Company. Evidently the Steven B. Church excerpt found on page 3 of the April 1995 GEM is dated from this time period. On the upper portion of the page is the Joy engine built by the Ohio Engine Company, and on the lower portion of the page is pictured the large sideshaft engine built by the Ohio Motor Company. This lower picture appears to be identical to those found on pages 325 and 354 of C. H. Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872.

The venture was short-lived, however, as the 1916-1917 Sandusky City Directory does not list Mack Joy, but only his widow, Marguerite (or Margaret). Oddly, I have been unable to find out anything more about Mr. Joy. I have not been able to locate even an obituary in the local newspapers; none of his family is listed in the Sandusky Library necrology files, nor in the local cemetery plot listings. Even the Erie County Health Department has no record of his death. His widow drops out of the Sandusky City Directory in the following year. Although he had a residence in Sandusky, he evidently died while out of the area, and the body was probably returned to his former home.

The 1916-1917 Sandusky City Directory shows Charles S. McCarthy (Sr.) as president of the Ohio Engine Company, and his son Charles S. McCarthy (Jr.) as secretary and treasurer. Evidently they continued the manufacture of engines for some time, but I do not know whether or not their product carried the name 'Joy' or whether they simply used the name of 'The Ohio Engine Company.' Perhaps sales of the small engines were disappointing, or perhaps Mr. McCarthy's interests were elsewhere, because little is heard of the Ohio Engine Company after this time. The Ohio Engine Company continues to be listed in the 1919-1920 Sandusky City Directory, but is absent from the 1921-1922 directory.

Charles S. McCarthy (Sr.) was evidently interested in manufacturing more than just gas engines, and developed a small gas-powered cultivator. The 'Me' portion of his name was combined with 'cultivator' to form the product name Mac Cultivator. These cultivators were put into production about 1918-1919, and were probably built concurrently with the Ohio Engine Company products in the same manufacturing facility operated by the Ohio Engine Company. Somewhere around 1920, McCarthy (Sr.) took the Mac Cultivator operation out of Sandusky, and presumably the Ohio Engine Company was abandoned at this time. I hope to cover the Mac Cultivator story in more detail when I find some time to research it more thoroughly.

Ohio Motor Company president Henry C. Strong died in June of 1918. His firm was evidently doing poorly at this time, but continued making the large side shaft engines on a small production scale. By this time they were technologically obsolete, as the original design was first produced in the 1896 time period. On December 31, 1920 there is a newspaper article stating that the adopted son of Henry Strong had closed a deal to sell the plant and buildings to the Paper Producing Equipment Company. In a curious and unexplained twist, the 1921 -1922 Sandusky City Directory shows the Radiant Manufacturing Company with the same street address as the former Ohio Motor Company. The Radiant Manufacturing Company was really not a manufacturing concern at all, but was in reality a marketing firm that sold the generating plants built by the Matthews Engineering Company, also of Sandusky. The story of the Radiant, however, is one that I will also save for another article.

I hope to hear from other GEM readers who may be able to contribute information of a more technical nature concerning the Ohio and Joy engines, especially anyone who can add to our knowledge of who built the 'push-rod Ohio' engines. Let's hear from you!