The Termaat and Monahan Company

The origin of The Universal Motor Company


| January/February 1993



John D. Termaat

John D. Termaat, from Motor Boat Magazine.

John D. Termaat

7964 Oakwood Park Ct. St. Michaels, Maryland 21663

The principal players in our drama were Louis J. Monahan and John D. Termaat. Monahan was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1876, the son of John and Mary Monahan. Termaat was born in Holland in 1867. He came to Oshkosh as an immigrant and became a 'successful photographer. The two men shared an interest in mechanical things.

Living on Lake Winnebago, they saw the need for power boats for fishing and recreation. From 1898 to 1900 they experimented until they felt they had a practical engine design. In 1901 they began to build engines, one at a time, in a small shed. In 1902 they organized the Termaat and Monahan Company to produce engines, still on a small scale. The range of engines in 1906 was made up of 1? HP to 4 HP single cylinder engines and 5 to 8 HP two cylinder engines. Termaat & Monahan engines were all two-cycle. Quite a number of the single cylinder engines still exist. Characteristics are four round holes in the flywheel disk, a grease cup on the end of the crankshaft for the rod bearing, and a small wet surge chamber bolted to the exhaust port.

In 1906 the men accepted outside capital, and the period of 1906-1913 was a period of steady expansion. The 1907 catalog shows a much wider range of engines, still all two-cycle:

Bore & Stroke

Cyls.

HP

Wt.

3 x 3?

1

1?

120

3? x 3?

1

2?

160

4? X 4?

1

4

195

4x4

2

8

300

4? x 4?

2

12

475

5? x 6

2

20

700

4? x 4?

3

18

690

4? x 4?

4

24

775

5? x 6

4

40

1500

7x7

2

30

3000

One can see that they used seven different cylinder sizes. I conclude that the engine line just grew like Topsy, with not enough standardization for low manufacturing costs. Exception are the 4? x 4? cylinder which was used in 2, 3, and 4 cylinder models and the 5? x 6 cylinder which was used on 2 and 4 cylinder engines. These models may have been newly introduced in 1907.

A Termaat & Monahan advertisement in the Sept. 10, 1910 issue of Motor Boating states that they then had 20 different sizes, from 2 to 120 HP. I've no idea how they achieved 120 HP. The ad shows a racing boat with their 36 HP model B (there had been no model letters in 1907).