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What Frederick Maytag Didn’t Know!

Author Photo
By Staff

5012 S. Newton Street Littleton, Colorado 80123

As a manufacturer of home laundry equipment Frederick Maytag
revolutionized an industry that affected almost every household in
the U.S.A. What he didn’t realize was that collecting and
restoring the various aspects of the Maytag line would become so
popular.

To teach my son some mechanical skills and create a productive
atmosphere, we decided to try our hand at restoring a Crosley car
or truck. To our surprise there would be an estate sale at a town
about 20 miles from where my parents lived in eastern Nebraska. It
was advertised that there would be no less than eight Crosleys sold
at this auction. Grandpa was given his marching orders and he and
Grandma made a day of it and went to the sale to see if he could
buy a restorable Crosley pickup.

To our dismay every Crosley collector in the Midwest was at the
sale and everything went for more than what we were willing to
spend. But Grandpa, being the type not being able to leave an
auction, stayed long enough to buy one Model 92 Maytag engine that
he readily described as being a typical boat anchor.

When we received the phone call that night we were informed that
our Crosley would have to be purchased some other day because he
was unable to buy one for the money we had to spend. We were not to
be disheartened because he did buy an old Maytag that could be a
good practice piece for our budding mechanic. It was boxed up and
sent to us to see if we could bring it back to life.

At this point I would like to introduce you to the main reason
for this tale. Patrick is our son of 17 years, who two years ago
was having quite a bit of trouble in school and life in general. He
didn’t really care for school and was easily persuaded to get
into mischief. It was for this reason that our mechanical project
began and that is when we got that poor old Model 92 some would
call a hopeless case. We decided to try our hand at restoration
because Pat had that ‘knack’ and I saw that it could be put
to use.

I had picked up two Maytag singles about 25 years ago and I was
able to make both run. Pat had a lot of fun starting them, always
enjoying the ‘pop pop’ that came with the easy lope of
those faithful little engines. It was this enjoyment that let me
know that Pat would really get a kick out of making one of these
run after years of neglect. If he couldn’t, then nothing would
be lost.

And so that fateful day the box arrived with the rusted old
single. When we opened the box we saw what Grandpa had meant when
he called it a ‘boat anchor.’ After making some notes on
the general condition of the engine, Patrick began to tear it down.
It didn’t take long to find that the piston was stuck tighter
than a tick on a dog’s back. The cylinder was submerged in a
can of kerosene while Patrick cleaned all the other parts. After
two to three weeks of soaking and gentle pressure, he found that
the piston still would not budge. At that point he was told if he
filled the cylinder with water and put a pipe plug in the spark
plug hole, he could heat the cylinder and turn the water into
steam. With the pressure of the steam the piston would then break
loose from the cylinder wall and come out with little effort. Armed
with a small camp stove, we roasted the cylinder and piston like a
big turkey leg. Sure enough, the piston did come out. But we
didn’t know enough to stand back, and when the piston popped
loose it sprayed oil and dirty old water all over everything,
including us. We looked like Amos and Andy.

With the piston free and new rings installed, the Maytag was
assembled and ready for a test run. It took about five kicks and
the little engine took off. The single that had lain in an old junk
pile for Lord knows how long, with the care of a fifteen year old,
the little engine again ran. Patrick turned to me and said,
‘Dad, I am going to call this first one Lazarus because it was
brought back from the dead.’

That was three complete washing machines and eighteen restored
engines ago. This teenager who was having problems in school and
with others had done a complete turnaround. Not only have his
grades in school improved dramatically, but he is learning a skill
while having fun. Patrick has decided that when he graduates from
high school in the spring of 1997 he wants to enroll in a trade
school to learn small engine repair, welding and basic machinist
skills. In fact he is already planning on going into business for
himself.

So you see Mr. Maytag didn’t know what he was to spawn.
Patrick and I enjoy going to engine shows where he can show off his
babies. In fact he really likes to show how Grandma used to wash
clothes when he fires up his gas powered washing machines.

As a father I have really enjoyed working with Pat and I’m
very proud of him, but I think his granddad is even prouder. When
we go back to visit, Grandpa will introduce Pat to people and they
will always reply, ‘Oh, is this the boy who collects washing
machines?’

We would enjoy corresponding with anyone who is also into
Maytags. Pat would also like to get a Maytag employee badge if
there are any to be had.

Happy restoring and collecting! Oh, by the way, we’re still
looking for that Crosley pickup.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines