The Honorable Augustus Adams, as president,
founded A. Adams & Sons in 1856 with his two older sons as
secretary and treasurer. Adams held patents he hoped to develop
into practical corn shellers. He succeeded in producing a
well-built line of spring and cylinder shellers. The first portable
power corn sheller was produced at his plant, and the self-feeding
device invented by Adams in about 1860 was a great improvement in
In 1867, Adams & Sons, with an infusion of local capital,
became Sandwich Mfg. Co. with Augustus as president and his son, J.
Phelps, as secretary-treasurer. In 1870, Augustus left Sandwich to
start Marseilles Mfg. Co. in Marseilles, Ill., with his younger
sons. With the extra capital available, Sandwich soon expanded
their product line into a large and varied line of practical farm
With a line of quality products, a strong dealer network and
requests for gasoline engines to power their machines coming in, in
about 1906, Sandwich began handling, as jobbers, several different
makes of high grade engines. Primary of these was the Jacob Haish
Co., of DeKalb, Ill., who built the Chanticleer line of engines. In
1912, an engineer from the Haish plant came to Sandwich with
patents for an improved design of engines, and the first Sandwich
“Excess Power” engines were produced in 1913. These were
dependable, high quality engines, highly finished in rich Brewster
green, with gold and light green striping and lettered in gold.
Sizes ranged from 1-1/2 HP to 10 HP and all had a horsepower output
of 25 to 40 percent above their rating.
In 1930, with most of the original principles gone and the
Depression taking its toll, Sandwich Mfg. was sold to the New Idea
Co. of Coldwater, Ohio. With the addition of Sandwich’s shellers,
elevators, side-delivery hay rakes and hay loaders to the manure
spreaders, transplanters, husker shredders, corn pickers and wagons
in the New Idea line, the company had a better market position.
Shortly after the changeover, the New Idea Vari-Speed No. 2 engine
was developed. This was a throttling-governor, enclosed,
self-oiling, ball bearing engine that developed 1-1/2 HP at 550 RPM
or 2-1/2 HP at 750 RPM, it was painted New Idea green with a New
Idea orange 6-point star on the flywheels. Lettering and striping
were also orange. These were produced until about 1935 or 1936, and
about 2,500 to 3,000 were produced.
With the drastic changes in farming during the 1940s, New Idea
decided to clean out. Spare parts for everything Sandwich made were
either melted down and recast, or sold as scrap. The local scrap
dealer handled over 100 tons of metals. All production and shipping
records were hauled out and burned. A former employee (now
deceased) told us he spent several months emptying out file cabinet
after cabinet of records back to the early days of the company.
What would be pure gold to us now went up in smoke.
In June 1955, all production at the Sandwich plant was moved to
Coldwater, and the plant was used as a regional distribution and
parts warehouse and dealer training center. In 1980, a new
distribution and training center was opened in the Quad City area
and operations were consolidated there. The Sandwich plant was put
on the market, and the 153,000-square-foot facility at 95 N Main
St. was bought by Henderson Engineering Co. of Addison, Ill.,
makers of industrial air filters, in early 1981, ending 125 years
of use for farm equipment.
Contact Ray Forrer at: Ray Forrer, 105 E. North St., Box 43,
Somonauk, IL 60552; (815) 498-2013; firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: www.oldengine.org/members/sandwich