One With Three Legs And The Other With Four
35901 WCR 31, Eaton, Colorado 80615
Here I am again at GEM since the WMCA (Washing Machine Collectors of America) has no members nor a magazine with proud pictures on its cover and throughout its inside.
About three years ago someone told me that the Hart-Parr tractor company had made a washing machine and finding one was put at a high priority. On a hunt through South Dakota, and Iowa in 1992, I found two on successive days and haven't seen another since. Both my machines look the same except for the number of legs, so I'm not sure if they are different models or merely represent a minor design change. Nor am I sure that these were the only models made by the company.
As found, both were pretty rough, with a couple of the legs rusted through; however each came complete with all the essential pieces. The unrestored four-legged one is pictured in Fig. 1. During the first phase of the restoration, the complete machine is totally dismantled, requiring plenty of WD-40, heat, patience and a few choice words.
Like many of my other machines of this era (late 1920s), the parts exhibit a very interesting demonstration of the genius of the people who designed and made them. After cleaning and painting, the parts look like new with the exception of several rust and acid pits in the gears and shafts. I have found much of the grease used in early washers was very corrosive, sometimes to the point of nearly dissolving fairly large portions of gears and/or shafts. Most of the moving parts of the three-legged Hart-Parr are shown in Fig. 2. The double cone agitator and the wringer clutch housing are shown in Fig. 3. Washing machines having inverted cones as agitators are generally called suction or vacuum washers. The frame of the machine along with the wringer and double-cone agitator are pictured in Fig. 4. The HP induction motor is suspended from a large shaft directly under the middle of the frame. It is interesting to note that of the 250 or so machines which I have restored, there have been only two electric motors which could not be made to run. There is so much cast iron in the stator that the rotor could be locked for a fairly long time before burning the motor out.
The rotary motion provided by the motor is transferred up the side of the tub to a 'transmission' housing attached at the top of the frame. The very interesting mechanism, Fig. 5., in this housing translates the rotary motion to an oscillating one which rocks the two vacuum cups of the agitator alternately up and down.
These copper-tubbed Hart-Parr machines are the only ones in my collection of over 400, that have tubs which rotate at the time when the washing is being done. A large gear mounted on the bottom of the tub, Fig. 6., is driven by a smaller one attached to a shaft coming from the lower gear housing.
The nameplate, attached to the top ring of the frame, on the four-legged Hart-Parr reads: No. W 1281, Patented Sept., 7, 09; Oct., 5, 09; Apr., 13, 15; Feb., 14, 22; Sept., 19, 22; Dec, 12, 22; Dec, 26, 22. (Note someone was on duty the day after Christmas). Other patents pending; Hart-Parr Company, Charles City, Iowa, USA. The three-legged model nameplate, attached to the bottom ring of the frame, reads the same except for: W 5315 and Model B (or D, it's hard to make out). Both machines use Anchor Brand wringers with patent dates June 24, 1924 and Nov., 4, 1924. Only one of my machines had the original Westinghouse Type CAN motor.
The finished three-legged model is shown in Fig. 7. Both machines appear the same, except for the number of legs and both work perfectly now, al though Barbara, my first wife of 41 years, won't use either instead of her modem Maytag. There were well over a thousand washing machine manufacturers in the early 1900s. My hope is to collect 750 and then rest. Because of space and other limitations my collection does not generally contain duplicate machines. After rationalizing I could not live without one Hart-Parr, I bought it for $100. The second one was purchased for $90, after realizing the truth in the old Confucius Proverb, 'Any one with a three-legged Hart-Parr must also have one with four.'
In order to more fully appreciate the Hart-Parr, you should come to my museum and I'll give you a tourit's like one of those best things in lifefree!