Easy Washing Machine Co.

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Easy Engine as diagrammed in company brochure.
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'Vac Up' model B from a 1925 ad.
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Dodge & Zuill ad, 1912.

Thanks to a quick response from the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, New York, we were able to compile a rather complete history of the Easy Washing Machine Co. by press time.

Apparently, the Easy Washing Machine Co. had its roots in a business called Dodge & Zuill, named for two Vermont natives, which manufactured clothes washing devices from 1877. Cyrus Dodge was the inventor of the original product, called a “funnel-on-a-stick” or a “cone-on-a-stick,” which was a hand operated unit. In 1907, experimentation began on a power washer operated by an electric motor. By May of 1910, the first motor-driven machine was sold to P. F. Schneider of Detroit, Michigan. The washer had a galvanized tub and was designated as a model F. As the machine was improved over the years, it was renamed the model C, and in 1915 it was granted the highest award in the model kitchen exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

A pamphlet on the award winning model C said this about the motor:

“Equipped with well-known make one-sixth H.P. motor. If you have a gas engine, the motor can be omitted, and in place of it we equip washer with countershaft and pulley, so you can operate it from gas engine or line shaft.”

The company entered a golden age of growth under the leadership of John N. Derschug. An enterprising young salesman and advertising executive, Derschug invested in and joined the company in 1915. With his encouragement of outside investment, the company reorganized as the Syracuse Washer Corporation in 1917. High overhead, in part from the rental costs of cramped manufacturing facilities, prevented profit for the next two years. By 1919, under Derschug’s leadership, significant outside investment was again attracted and the business was once more reorganized, this time as the Syracuse Washing Machine Corporation.

In 1920 the firm moved into a large new plant at Solar and Spencer Streets. Business was difficult during a national recession, but by 1923 production output was double the previous year’s, and was reported to have been the greatest of any home laundry equipment factory in the world. In August 1932, the firm’s name was changed to the Easy Washing Machine Corporation. Derschug died in 1936. During his presidency, more than $100,000,000 worth of washing machines had been sold by the company.

According to a 1941 article in a Syracuse newspaper, the company at that time maintained a unique historical record museum, with actual models of the most ancient type to those manufactured at the time. The company continued in business and had a peak year in 1948, when 474, 831 washing machines were built. In 1955 the business was sold to Union Chemical and Material Co.; in 1957 the firm’s assets were sold to Murray Corporation of America. At that time, they were operating in five plants totaling 500,000 square feet and employing about 1,400. Murray ultimately sold the Easy Washing Company to Hupp Corporation, of Cleveland, Ohio, which closed down operation in 1963.

A brochure provided by the Onondaga Historical Association does show that an “Easy 4-cycle gasoline engine for all models of Easy washers,” was at least sold by the company, whether or not they manufactured it.

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