By Staff
article image

Route 2, Box 103A, Chesterton, Indiana 46304.

In your September-October 1976 issue I read the letter where in
Glenn Karch was interested in any information about the ‘Auto
Sparker.’ This struck a chord of memory of my boyhood days. I
remember seeing ads in the Farm Magazine about the
‘Motziner’ Auto Sparker. This was actually a 6 to 10 volt
generator of D. C. current. It had two poles and an armature with
about 6 or 8 segments. Its voltage was controlled by a small
flyball governor mounted on the armature shaft on the opposite end
from the friction wheel, which in its operation tilted the entire
generator which determined the pressure which engaged the friction
wheel against its driver; which was normally the outer rim of a gas
engine flywheel. It looked something like this:

I lived on a farm about 6 miles east of Crown Point, Indiana.
Our local general store was at Winfield, which was a stop on the
Erie R.R. The local store keeper also had an IHC
motor baler which was run by about a 4 HP IHC
gasoline engine. Sometime between 1912 and 1915, he mounted one of
these Auto Sparkers on this engine which he used for several

When I was about 14 years old which was 1917, I was visiting
this man and noticed the Auto Sparker lying on his workbench. The
governor assembly was missing. I expressed interest in it. He said
the governor had gotten lost and since I liked the Auto Sparker he
was going to give it to me. I was delighted since I was very
interested in electrical gadgets. Edison was my hero!

With great joy I took the Auto Sparker home. I took it apart to
see how it was made. It had two tubular brush guides each side of
the connector housing. Three of the brushes were very nearly worn
down to nothing. I found that the carbon center of a flashlight
battery was about the same diameter size as the brushes and they
worked okay. The terminal connections were of the spring clip type.
The friction material on the drive pulley was worn down to the
retaining flanges, so I removed it and used the hub as a flat belt

My father was a dairy farmer and the milk had to be cooled after
each morning and evening milking. We had a Fairbanks Morse 1 HP
‘Jack Junior’ gasoline engine, which was used to pump water
to cool the milk. I belted the Auto Sparker to a 6′ pulley on
the engine to drive it. This furnished enough current to supply the
ignition for the engine and also light a 32 cp automotive 6V bulb.
The pump house was close to our dining room window, so I ran two
copper wires into the dining room and presto, we had electric light
in there whenever the engine was pumping water. We were the first
in our neighborhood to have an electric light in our house.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines