Keys ala Maytag

| October/November 1991

  • Pump jacks

  • Pump jacks

130 Serpentine Drive, Bayville, New Jersey 08721

I live along the eastern shores of New Jersey about midway between New York and Atlantic City. It is somewhat difficult to find antique engines in this area because few farms still exist here, and electricity was introduced into the area relatively early in the century. What is even more elusive is the engine powered machinery, such as corn shelters and pump jacks which are so prevalent in the Midwest. After six years of beating the bushes I had collected about ten engines, but I had no machinery to belt them to.

I work in the hardware business and one unique thing about hardware people is that they never throw anything away. As a result, hardware stores, especially the old fashioned kind, are notorious for warehousing junk over the years. While poking around a storage loft one day, I found an old key duplicating machine that had been retired thirty years earlier due to a burned out motor. I had restored a Maytag single about a year ago and it had proven to be easy starting and very dependable. Since the Maytag was specifically designed as a substitute electric motor, I thought that it would be ideal to power the key cutter. In fact, when I looked at the original motor tag on the cutter, it stated the rpms as 1050, just like the Maytag. A little experimentation with pulley sizes was all that was necessary to get the proper rpms at the cutter.

For the past few months I have had the key cutter and several engines on display at the hardware store to promote our club, The Pinelands Antique Engine Association. I hear a lot of interesting comments by my customers. One man came up and asked if they were 'spit and miss' engines. I replied that most of them were of the hit and miss variety, however on occasion they could become 'spit and cuss' engines.

The key cutter is intended to be a fund raiser for our organization. Our yearly show is held on a Sunday in October at the Historic Batsto Village, Batsto, New Jersey. If you would like more information about our group and its activities, please feel free to write or call (908) 269-6580.

Maytags are often criticized for the annoying smoke and noise that they make. Although I couldn't do anything about the smoke, every time the Maytag; fires it now makes beautiful music by jingling all the keys that hang on the display. Some may consider the Maytag to be the ugly duckling of the engine world, but isn't it remarkable how these little engines have been utilized to do everything but drill people's teeth. Drill teeth? Hmmmmn....maybe I'll scratch around the back of that hardware store some more!


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