The Fruit Jar Maytag

| November/December 1983

The 1/2 HP Fruit Jar Maytag is, without a doubt, the most sought after, and the most colorful of all the Maytag engines. I believe production on this engine was started in March 1918  and ended about mid-year 1919, thus making them produced less than two years. The reason they were called "Fruit Jar" was because a Mason fruit jar was used for the gas tank. Of course, this made them very dangerous. In those days, women washed in the kitchen in the winter time. With a roaring fire in the kitchen range, one can only wonder how many accidents occurred. Because of the danger involved, it seems very strange today why these engines were ever produced. It is hard to find a reason why any engineer or company would come up with such a poor design. However, we are glad that they did, so we have this very rare and interesting engine to search for today to add to our collections.

Maytag started producing gasoline powered washing machines in, or near, 1911. Their first engine was a 1/2 HP two cycle upright, with battery and coil ignition. These engines proved reliable and satisfactory for a period of about 12 years. They were discontinued in 1923. During the last four years the uprights were produced, Maytag gave their customers an option of either battery or magneto ignition. Thy flywheel was changed on the magneto option from iron to aluminum, with the magneto enclosed inside.

In 1923 Maytag started powering their washing machines with their new Model 82, that was rated at 3/4 HP. This engine was a much-improved motor over the upright and the Fruit Jar models.

We must note at this time that the Fruit Jar engine was introduced four years before the uprights were discontinued, and it was four more years until the Model 82 was put on the market.

It is interesting to note the components of the Fruit Jar engine. They retained the cylinder, piston, connecting rod and crankshaft from the Upright. However, the position of the cylinder was changed from upright to horizontal. Also the same Type E carburetor was retained from the Upright engine. The flywheel and magneto were the same that were offered for the Upright option. The only thing that was really new for the Fruit Jar engine was the position of the cylinder and the crankcase and base. Of course, the gas tank was the radical change.

The Fruit Jar engine was used by Maytag to power their new Model 72 washing machines.