The Macultivator Tractor Company SANDUSKY, OHIO

Macultivator Tractor

Content Tools

87l0 Vickery Road, Castalia, Ohio 44824,

With much help from Doug Tollman 21 St. Rt. 225 Greenwich, Ohio, dtallman@accnorwalk. com

A couple years ago my friend Doug Tallman came up to me at our local show put on by the Firelands Pioneer Power Association, and asked me what I knew about the Macultivator Company of Sandusky, Ohio. Now, I fancy that I do know a bit more than many about the engine manufacturing history in our area, but I drew a blank on this one. I had never heard of them.

The thought stayed with me and after a couple of days I began to remember that I had once come across some mention of a local manufacturer of early garden tractors. A look in the back of C. H. Wendel's Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors, confirmed the existence of the firm, but no information was available. I began to research the matter off-and-on, because I thought that it would make an interesting article. What I have written here is just about everything that I have been able to find, so if anyone out there in Old Engine Land can add to this, I invite you to come forth with any information.

Will Cummings of 8710 Vickery Road, Catalia, OH 44824 collaborates with his friend Doug Tollman in telling the tale of the Macultivator Company

It will be seen that the Macultivator Company was brought about though the efforts of a father-son team, Charles S. McCarthy Sr., and Charles S. McCarthy Jr., whom I will hereafter refer to as McCarthy Sr. and/or McCarthy Jr. Evidently they were not natives of the Sandusky, Ohio, area, as they are not listed in any Sandusky City Directories prior to 1915. McCarthy Sr. first appears on the scene in a newspaper announcement of December 29, 1914, where it is announced that he will be Superintendent of the recently incorporated Ohio Engine Company (Sandusky, Ohio). Mack Joy was the principal promoter of the Ohio Engine Company (see 'The Ohio Connections,' page 25 of the September 1995 GEM).

McCarthy Sr. is listed in the 1915 Sandusky City Directory as 'retired', and McCarthy Jr. is listed as a Civil Engineer. McCarthy Sr., his wife Mary, and McCarthy Jr. reside together. Apparently McCarthy Jr. is single at this time.

The 1916-17 Sandusky City Directory shows considerable change. McCarthy Sr. is now President of the Ohio Engine Company, and McCarthy Jr. is Secretary-Treasurer. Mack Joy, the promoter and expert salesman behind the Ohio Engine Company has died, although his widow is listed in the directory.

The Sandusky Star Journal of June 11, 1918, has an interesting article covering the local demonstration of a small 'gasoline seeder' that the McCarthy team had designed and built. Regrettably there were no pictures included. The article relates that the device could be operated by a woman or a twelve-year-boy and did away with the need for hand hoeing. It was mounted on two wheels, and weighed 150 pounds. The seeder was considered a great success by those who saw it in operation. Mr. McCarthy had recently demonstrated the machine before the agricultural committee of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, and there were pointed hints in the newspaper article that the Sanduksy area Commercial Club would attempt to keep the business local.

Some time passes before the next mention, which comes in the Sandusky Register of May 27, 1919. It announces that McCarthy Jr., a graduate of Purdue University, has found the capital to incorporate and begin production. He has become President and General Manager of the Macultivator Company, recently incorporated with $500,000 capital. Evidently he has built several prototypes since the first one mentioned in June, 1918. He is now ready to market a single model to be known as the 'Motor Macultivator.' I assume that the Macultivator name is a shortened form of McCarthy's cultivator.

The May 1919 newspaper article informs us that the Motor Macultivator is rated at 1 HP and runs at a speed of 1 mph. The gasoline tank holds one gallon, which is said to operate the machine for five hours. It is seventeen inches wide, and is designed to be used with the customers hand cultivator tools. The motor is placed in an exact balance in the center of the two drive wheels. The driving gears attached to the motor are enclosed, and the driving gears on the wheels are screwed on so that they may be replaced. It is air-cooled, and the fan is driven from the flywheel with a spring steel belt.

It is not explicitly stated, but it seems that the Macultivator Company built their own engines. Both the clutch and the throttle were controlled from the hand grip at the rear end of the handles. The Motor Macultivators were built (not surprisingly) in the factory of the Ohio Engine Company. A few machines had already been built, and were a local hit. In fact, one was placed on display in the front window of the local Manhattan Clothing Company (would you like to buy your Sunday best from a rack next to a machine that smelled of gasoline and oil?)

A trade magazine of the time gives the additional information that the Macultivator weighs in at 210 pounds, has a 9' clearance, and sells for $195. The engine has a 2' bore, 3' stroke, is designed to run at 1,000 rpm, and utilizes splash lubrication.

A short mention in the Sandusky Register of June 22, 1919 details difficulties that the company experienced in setting up for mass production, and generally gives excuses why the Motor Macultivators were not yet readily available. It further outlines a company plan to distribute an advertising booklet. Plans were also announced to fit a lawn mower to the Motor Macultivator. It is my personal assumption that this was a traction-driven reel mower, rather than one powered directly by the engine.

The 1919-20 Sandusky City Directory duplicated exactly the information given in the 1916-17 issue, with the exception that Mack Joy's widow is no longer listed. There is no 1918 directory available.

The 1921-22 Sandusky City Directory again shows considerable change. The Ohio Engine Company is no longer listed, nor is McCarthy Sr. or his wife. McCarthy Jr. remains in the Sandusky area along with his new bride, Lucille.

Doug Tallman supplied me with an advertisement from the August 1921, Farm Mechanics magazine that lists the Macultivator company's address in Toledo, Ohio. Sometime during late 1920 or early 1921, Motor Macultivator production and financial backing was moved sixty miles west to Toledo. There is no mention of the Macultivator Company or either McCarthy in the 1921 Toledo City Directory, or any previous issues. The Motor Macultivator Company first appears in the 1922 Toledo City Directory, and is located at 1308-10 Dorr Street. This street has since been widened, and there are no remaining traces of their building.

The Toledo City Directories indicate that McCarthy Sr. has moved with the company to Toledo, and is Vice-president of the firm. His fellow officers are financial investors who have other Toledo interests, including the American Swiss Magneto Company, the Toledo Steel Products Company, and the Bunting Brass & Bronze Company. The 1923 Toledo City Directory presents essentially the same information as the 1922 issue.

The 1924 Toledo City Directory gives us a few more changes, including the fact that McCarthy Sr. is once again President of the firm. We also learn the Toledo-based company was technically different than the Sandusky-based firm, as the Toledo company was incorporated in 1921 with $60,000. Evidently the financial backers of the Sandusky-based firm took a heavy loss, as it seems they sold a corporation with $500,000 capital for $60,000.

The management reorganization depicted in the 1924 directory was evidently a last-ditch effort to revive the Motor Macultivator Company, as the company does not appear in the 1925 or subsequent Toledo City Directories. The 1925 directory lists McCarthy Sr. as a factory worker at the American Swiss Magneto Company, which was owned by a former Motor Macultivator financial backer. The 1927 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide indicates that repair parts were still available at that time from the American Swiss Magneto Company of Toledo.

Thus ends a rather short-lived and sad saga, but typical of many of its day. Probably the number of Motor Macultivators built ran into the thousands, but there is no surviving data on this matter.

Doug and I only know of two surviving Motor Macultivators, both of which belong to Doug. The picture accompanying this article is of the better one; the other lacks the original Berling magneto, gas tank, etc. Doug is an expert on early steel-wheeled garden tractors, something that I am not. Both of Doug's units were equipped with Berling magnetos and Schebler Model B carburetors. Seemingly Motor Macultivators did not have a typical nameplate to identify them, as the only identification Doug found is the name 'Macultivator' cast inset into the throttle lever. The most identifiable feature of the Macultivator are the seven 'S'-shaped spokes in the drive wheels. Perhaps one of you out there in Old Engine Land has a Macultivator, but hasn't been able to identify it.

Doug tells me that his better Macultivator had some original paint remaining before he restored it. In general the tractor was painted a dark green, including the cast iron crankcase, the hub of the flywheel, the gas tank, and the wooden handles. He used GM Fleet Green (GM color code WE5645), which is very similar to Acme paint #3-16149. The upper portion of the engine was painted silver, including the fan and the rim of the flywheel.

The gas tank on the restored unit has two compartments, a larger one for gas and a smaller one which is connected through tubing to the engine crankcase. Presumably the smaller compartment was intended as an oil reserve. The round ends of the gas tank had the remains of a decal, but it was too deteriorated to read. Doug and I both feel that the decal was essentially the same as the Motor Macultivator logo that I used as a heading for this article. I created a digital image of the logo as shown in the August, 1921 Farm Mechanics magazine. Then I edited and expanded it, and gave the good folks at GEM specific instructions as to what size to print it. I wanted it to be available to anyone out there in Old Engine Land who wanted to use it as an exact-size pattern for their restoration project.

Both Macultivators have a spring-loaded wooden cone clutch in the flywheel. The unrestored unit has an apparently authentic means of engaging the clutch from the handles, whereas it appears that the restored unit never had this attachment. This is somewhat surprising, as the above-quoted May 1919 newspaper article states that both the throttle and the clutch were controlled from the handles. This difference between the two units leads us to speculate that the restored unit is somewhat older than the unrestored unit. Other differences are that the newer model has a longer stroke, larger connecting rod bearing, and individual tin cooling fins on the flywheel.

This concludes the findings of my research; I hope that it has been of interest to GEM readers. If anyone has a Macultivator, spare parts, relevant literature, or just would like to talk about them, please contact Doug or me.


Farm Mechanics (magazine)

August, 1921

Farm Implement News (buyers guide)


Sandusky City Directories

1915, 16-17, 19-20, 21-22

Sandusky Register (newspaper)

December 29, 1914,

May 27, 1919

June 22, 1919

Sandusky Star Journal (newspaper)

June 11, 1918

Toledo City Directories

1921, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

Article from March 1, 1920 Chilton Tractor Journal.

Motor Macultivator is Light Two-Wheel Garden Tractor

THE small two-wheel garden-tractor built by the Macultivator Co., Sandusky, Ohio, has features which are of more than passing interest to both dealer and market gardner. To begin with, it is just a garden cultivator propelled by an engine, and is not designed for, nor erpected to do, plowing. Its simplicity, compactness and light weight are features that appeal to the user. It can be backed, which is also important. Being 17 in. overall in width, and having a 9-in. clearance, makes it possible to be used in the cultivation of onions, carrots etc., as well as to 'straddle' the row when close cultivation is desired.

The Macultivator is equipped with single-cylinder, air-cooled, 4-cycle engine of the company's own design. It is placed in the center of the machine, between the two drive wheels. The engine has a 2-in.. bore and a 3-in. stroke, developing at 1000 r.p.m. 1 horse-power. The crankcase is a part of the main frame as will be quite readily noted in the illustration.

Cooling is effected by a fan which is driven by a belt from the flywheel. Ignition is furnished by a magneto, and the splash system of lubrication is employed. All the engine gears are enclosed, making them dust- and oil-proof. The machine is equipped with a gasoline tank of about 1-gal. capacity, which is claimed to be sufficient to operate the machine a full working day.

The power is transmitted to the drive wheels through semi-steel gears; the gear ratio being 40:1. The gears can be disengaged by a little lever in front which operates an eccentric. This enables the operator to move the machine without its motive power. The clutch, which is faced with wood blocks and which transmits the power from the engine to the gears, is controlled by a lever from the hand grip on the end of the left handle. By releasing this the machine will stop instantly. The diameter of the bull gears is 14 in. and the drive wheels are 20 in. diam., and have a 3-in. face, with cleats cast integral.

The throttle is controlled from the hand grip at the end of the right handle, which gives the operator complete control of the machine at all times, the speed being under his control, also.

By reason of its low center of gravity and perfect balance the machine is easily steered.

Manufacturer is that the machine can be used with any standard cultivator tools. The tools are attached to a universal tool holder, which, being slotted, permits the adjustment of the tools so that they can be set according to the requirements of the operator. The tool holder is in three sections, which permits the adjustment of the holder as well as the position. To raise the tools from the ground, a lever is provided within easy reach of the operator. This is desirable when moving the machine from one place to another and when turning at the end of the rows. The clearance of 9 in. permits cultivation to within one-half inch of the row.

The weight of the machine is 210 lb.