The Little Monitor

By Staff
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George Arney's restored circa 1934 Little Monitor pump rig, serial number 43769.
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The complete unit, looking very much as it would have when new.

Nowadays most of us take a plentiful supply of water for
granted, but it wasn’t too long ago that water was harder to
come by, especially for people living in the country. The farm I
live on has an old hand-dug well on it. It’s about 25 feet deep
and three feet in diameter, its walls lined with stones all the way
to the shell rock bottom. It’s located close by a wet weather
creek, and in the dry seasons must have supplied the farm with all
the water. I expect it’s been abandoned for many years now, as
there’s no sign left of the old home place except for the
well.

Before the time of the pumping engines, water from these wells
had to be drawn up in a bucket or pumped by hand if you didn’t
have a windmill. Even if you did have a windmill there would be
many days the wind wouldn’t blow hard enough to pump water, so
when gasoline-powered pumping engines came out they must have been
very popular on the farms.

Baker Manufacturing Co. of Evansville, Wise, sold a lot of 1 HP
Little Monitor pumping engines here in Missouri. These engine
outfits came equipped with a pump jack and belt pulley and could be
bought with a hand truck to make the engine easier to move around
for other chores.

One book on the Little Monitor says it will do the washing for a
week for an average-size family for a fuel cost of two to three
cents. For a gallon of gas it would supposedly shell out 264
bushels of corn or pump 500 to 750 barrels of water from a 40 foot
well.

The Little Monitor was also used in the construction industry
mounted on trench pumps and cement mixers. Other uses for the
Little Monitor were running cream separators, butter churns, feed
grinders, corn shellers, vacuum pumps for milking machines, dynamos
for charging batteries, grind stones, bone mills, line shafting,
wood saws, and a number of other things.

The belt pulley could be used on the camshaft for equipment
requiring a slow speed or on the crankshaft for a normal crank
speed. The flywheel could also be used as a belt pulley for
equipment requiring a higher speed.

When rural electric started making its way around the country
many of these engines were converted to run with an electric motor.
By removing the water hopper, cylinder and piston, an electric
motor could be mounted on the engine base and belted around the
flywheel. With the convenience of an electric motor, many Little
Monitor engines saw their service extended for a number of
years.

The first Monitor engines were built in 1905, with the Little
Monitor pump engine appearing around 1911. The first ones had a
round gas tank that resembled a canteen and were nicknamed the
Canteen Monitor. The square gas tank was introduced around 1914.
There were several more changes throughout the years, but in
appearance they remained basically the same until production ended
sometime in 1944. The Baker Manufacturing Co. remains in business
to this day, and the Monitor name lives on in an array of pumps and
pumping equipment manufactured by Baker Manufacturing.

Contact engine enthusiast George Arney at: 518 SE 921, Knob
Noster MO, 65336, or e-mail: arney7@hotmail.com

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