Mail Order Mayhem

Montgomery Ward & Co. Battled Sears, Roebuck & Co. for Engine Eminence in the Mail Order Catalog Industry

| March/April 2004

  • The Spring 1935 Catalog
    The Spring 1935 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog listed this trio of Nelson-built Sattley air-cooled engines. Note the cast aluminum air shroud on the 3 HP.
  • The Fall 1932 catalog
    The Fall 1932 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog featured the 'Aero-Type' Sattley air-cooled engine built by Nelson Bros.
  • Wisconsin-built AC4
    The four-cylinder, air-cooled Wisconsin-built AC4 as shown in Ward's Spring/Summer 1938 catalog.
  • Shows engine sizes and specifications
    Portion of a 1938 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog shows engine sizes and specifications.
  • Lauson-built 5/8 HP engine
    The Spring/Summer 1938 catalog featured this Lauson-built 5/8 HP engine, the smallest offered by Montgomery Ward that year.
  • 15 HP Continental
    Ward offered this 15 HP Continental 'Red Seal' four-cylinder water-cooled engine in its Spring/Summer 1938 catalog.

  • The Spring 1935 Catalog
  • The Fall 1932 catalog
  • Wisconsin-built AC4
  • Shows engine sizes and specifications
  • Lauson-built 5/8 HP engine
  • 15 HP Continental

During the Great Depression large corporations began to dominate the landscape of America's commerce as smaller companies increasingly folded under disastrous economic forces. Times were hard for the average American, and companies that could produce durable goods at low prices successfully jockeyed themselves ahead of the competition. Against this competitive backdrop both Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward & Co. became almost synonymous with home appliances as they respectively grew to gargantuan proportions selling a wide array of goods through catalog mail order.

Sears would eventually win the mail order wars, but in the 1930s the two retail giants were still nearly equal in size, and their buying and selling power was enormous. Intense competition kept prices low, which was exactly what the average American needed in those Depression days when each and every penny counted. Most American families received both catalogs, and centrally positioned in those catalogs were a wide array of gasoline engines.

Sattley Engines

Montgomery Ward sold water-hopper engines under its own Sattley brand name, in part manufactured by Nelson Bros. Co., Saginaw, Mich. From 1932 to 1936 Nelson Co. also produced all of Montgomery Ward's air-cooled engines.

Montgomery Ward was proud of these engines and called them its Aero-Type Sattley gasoline engines. With horsepower ratings of 3/4, 1-1/2 and 3, they all used a cast iron base to hold the gasoline and oil. They were equipped with a fuel pump, and also an oil pump to lubricate the connecting rod.

These upright Aero-Type Sattleys all used flyball-type governors and incorporated the magneto into the flywheel.

The smaller 3/4 HP Sattley, rated at 1,750 rpm, used a kick-start and overhead valves. From 1932 through 1934, this engine used a Maytag-type flywheel and magneto, but didn't use an air shroud. A flat belt pulley was attached to the flywheel and a V-belt pulley was set on the kick-start side. In 1935 and 1936, this engine changed to incorporate a normal flywheel and a sheet metal shroud. The horsepower rating remained the same. The small 3/4 HP Sattley had a bore and stroke of 2-1/4 inches (9 cubic inches).

Ted Chapman
2/27/2012 7:59:04 PM

Great article thanks for the info!


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