J.D. Schmidt sent photos published in the October/November 2017 issue of a Tiny Tim 12-volt, 300-watt generator powered by a 1/2 hp 4-stroke engine, asking if readers knew more about the units. We noted that small generators like the Tiny Tim were inspired by efforts to supply like-type units for military use, prompting the following note from reader Ken Karrow, who writes:
“I believe they were developed and sold to charge batteries for the home owner as opposed to a military application. I have one with a Montgomery Ward tag on it that says Wards Airline. It is a 6-volt unit with battery ignition. As an ex-Wards employee, I know that Airline was Ward’s trade name for their home entertainment items. This would include radios back in the day when REA had not reached lots of homes yet, so this would have been sold with a radio to a customer who did not have electricity yet.
“Lots of radios in this time period were 6- or 12-volt, and the amp draw was too high to use dry cells. The expense of dry cells would be prohibitive, so wet cells were used and needed to be recharged. I have two more of these that I have not got to working with yet. Neither have tags so I don’t know the voltage. One is a Tiny Tim look-alike and the other is a Pincor. All three of mine are electric start, and I suspect the one in the photos is, as well. There is a button directly under the handle that looks like an old dimmer switch button. I suspect that will energize the generator as a starter and they switch to a generator when up to speed. I have tried the Wards unit on a run-down 6-volt battery and it will crank slowly and start. The pulley is an ordinary V-belt pulley with a notch in it so you can rope start, but on mine you still need a battery with at least a little charge to operate the ignition. You can also use the belt pulley to operate anything that uses only about 1/2 hp with the battery fully charged. If the battery is low, it won't have enough power to operate something else and charge the battery as well.
“I know this is getting long, but I will relate a story that my dad tells about my grandfather. When Dad was young they had a radio on a battery, but Grandpa was too cheap to buy a charger. He would park his Chevrolet on a hill in the yard and my dad had to remove the battery and hook it to the radio and when grandpa was ready to go to town, Dad had to take the battery back out and install it in the car. I believe that it was a 1918 Chevrolet. Then Grandpa would let the car roll down the hill, engage the clutch, start the car and go to town and do his business. When he got back the battery was charged up and he would repeat the process.”
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