Another History Tidbit Of The Edwards Motor Co.


| January/February 2000



Tractor and Gas Engine Review

8710 Vickery Rd. Castalia, Ohio 44824 willc@lrbcg.com

The recent article on Edwards engines was quite interesting. (See both the November and December 1999 issues of GEM for carticles on Edwards.) I have one piece to add to it.

While I am not well acquainted with the Edwards Motor Co., I have done much research on old engines built near my home area of Sandusky, Ohio. While compiling a history of the Matthews Engineering Co. of Sandusky, Ohio, I came across the following Edwards Motor Co. reference. First let me give you a brief overview of the Matthews Engineering Co.

The Matthews Boat Co. of landlocked Bascom, Ohio, was founded before the turn of the century by Scott J. Matthews. He catered to the affluent yachting customers, and due to his insistence on high quality, his business quickly flourished. In 1906 the city of Port Clinton, Ohio, offered the Matthews Boat Co. free land where the Ottawa River enters Lake Erie, and the company made the move.

About 1912 the Matthews Boat Co. hired two Engineers to design and built gasoline-powered generators so that their yachts could be equipped with electric lights and appliances. The Matthews Boat Co. built and sold about 275 of these 1 or 2 cylinder units between 1913 and 1915. In 1915 the Engineers who had designed these direct-coupled generators gathered financial backers and purchased the engine-building division away from the boat-building concern. They named the new corporation The Matthews Engineering Company and sold under the Matthews trade name, although the Matthews family had no control over the new firm. Within months the Matthews Engineering Co. moved to nearby Sandusky, in search of bigger facilities, proximity to foundries and railroads, and a larger labor pool.

The Matthews Engineering Co. nourished and expanded their product line to include direct-driven generators from 300 W to 75 KW. Although they had a number of military contracts, the products that sold the best were 32 volt dc light plants. In 1923 a holding company that owned a large share of Matthews Engineering Co. stock collapsed, and the Matthews Engineering Co. was forced into receivership. In December of 1924 the Matthews Engineering Company was sold at public auction for $127,000, a small fraction of the $ 1,500,000 capital investment. All new product development was suspended at that time. The Matthews Engineering Co. continued to fill orders for existing designs through 1928, but the plant was already closed when it was partially destroyed in an accidental fire in the early 1930s.