History of The National Engineering Co.

By Staff

Calvin sent the History of the National Engineering Co. Makers
of Michigan Engines.

May 1895Founded as the Walcott Windmill Company
at 923 South Niagara Street to manufacture an improved type of wind
pump. For eight years the company carried on a more-or-less
successful business with a somewhat doubtful future.

May 1903The windmill business was discontinued
and the company was re-organized as the National Engineering
Company with a paid-in capital of 30,000 dollars. The principal
shareholders were Aaron P. Bliss (President) and Willis G. Van
Auken (Vice-President). Both were local business-men and Aaron
Bliss had been both a member and past president of the Saginaw
Board of Public Works.

The new company began the manufacture of wooden water storage
tanks and gasoline engines of various sizes for general farm use.
These were known as Michigan engines. This business gave great
promise of success and an improved engine for pumping water, known
as No. 2 Pumping Engine, was introduced. This engine was sold as
the ‘New Model’ engine and was immediately popular because
it was directly coupled to the pump without the use of a pump jack.
A large contract was entered into for the supply of these engines
with the Kewanee Water and Supply Company of Kewanee, Illinois, and
continued in force from four or five years with varying degrees of
success but not much profit for the engine builders. Castings for
these engines were bought in from a local foundry, and the company
were basically machinists.

About 1907When the automobile business was
beginning to expand beyond the production capacity of the leading
manufacturers, the company decided to take up crankshaft finishing.
The plant was moved next door into the larger machine shops of the
Moffett Vehicle Bearing Company at 922 South Niagara Street, whose
patents, goodwill and business had recently been sold by its
principal shareholders Messrs. Bliss and Van Auken to a New York
company who had removed it there. In these better equipped machine
shops the company undertook the machining and finishing of all the
crankshafts used in the two cylinder Reo car and other
automobiles.

Later, when the larger vertical cylinder car engine was
introduced they finished crankshafts for the four-throw Reo
engines. This business continued profitably for five years, and
sometime during this time engine manufacture was discontinued. This
is believed to have happened in 1908, but the company’s entry
in the ‘Michigan Gazetteer’ of 1909-10 lists it as
manufacturers of gasoline engines and tanks, and an advertisement
in the same publication offers ‘New Model and Michigan Gasolene
Engines, wood tanks, and automobile parts’. Since the address
is given as 923 South Niagara Street and the Moffett Company is
shown at 922, this perhaps simply shows that the directory was
already out-of-date when published.

From 1912The National Engineering Company
continued to operate very successfully in the same line having
large contracts with the Buick, Chevrolet, Olds Motor and other
companies.

February 19th, 1916The company, including
plant, machine shops and goodwill were sold to a group of investors
from Lansing, but continued in the same business on a larger scale
and under the same name.

At about this time a contract was entered into with the Northway
Motor and Manufacturing Company of Detroit for finishing 56,000
crankshafts for car engines and later a similar contract was made
with the Republic Motor Truck Company of Ama for 10,000
crankshafts.

1917The machine shop capacity was increased
from 275 to 400 crankshafts a day, or about 125,000 a years, with a
contract value of almost half a million dollars. This gave
employment to over 150 machinists and other workmen.

1919The company was bought by General Motors
and renamed the Michigan Crankshaft Company.

1920The company was renamed the Chevrolet
Transmission Company.

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