87l0 Vickery Road, Castalia, Ohio 44824, firstname.lastname@example.org
With much help from Doug Tollman 21 St. Rt. 225 Greenwich, Ohio,
A couple years ago my friend Doug Tallman came up to me at our
local show put on by the Firelands Pioneer Power Association, and
asked me what I knew about the Macultivator Company of Sandusky,
Ohio. Now, I fancy that I do know a bit more than many about the
engine manufacturing history in our area, but I drew a blank on
this one. I had never heard of them.
The thought stayed with me and after a couple of days I began to
remember that I had once come across some mention of a local
manufacturer of early garden tractors. A look in the back of C. H.
Wendel’s Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors,
confirmed the existence of the firm, but no information was
available. I began to research the matter off-and-on, because I
thought that it would make an interesting article. What I have
written here is just about everything that I have been able to
find, so if anyone out there in Old Engine Land can add to this, I
invite you to come forth with any information.
Will Cummings of 8710 Vickery Road, Catalia, OH 44824
collaborates with his friend Doug Tollman in telling the tale of
the Macultivator Company
It will be seen that the Macultivator Company was brought about
though the efforts of a father-son team, Charles S. McCarthy Sr.,
and Charles S. McCarthy Jr., whom I will hereafter refer to as
McCarthy Sr. and/or McCarthy Jr. Evidently they were not natives of
the Sandusky, Ohio, area, as they are not listed in any Sandusky
City Directories prior to 1915. McCarthy Sr. first appears on the
scene in a newspaper announcement of December 29, 1914, where it is
announced that he will be Superintendent of the recently
incorporated Ohio Engine Company (Sandusky, Ohio). Mack Joy was the
principal promoter of the Ohio Engine Company (see ‘The Ohio
Connections,’ page 25 of the September 1995 GEM).
McCarthy Sr. is listed in the 1915 Sandusky City Directory as
‘retired’, and McCarthy Jr. is listed as a Civil Engineer.
McCarthy Sr., his wife Mary, and McCarthy Jr. reside together.
Apparently McCarthy Jr. is single at this time.
The 1916-17 Sandusky City Directory shows considerable change.
McCarthy Sr. is now President of the Ohio Engine Company, and
McCarthy Jr. is Secretary-Treasurer. Mack Joy, the promoter and
expert salesman behind the Ohio Engine Company has died, although
his widow is listed in the directory.
The Sandusky Star Journal of June 11, 1918, has an interesting
article covering the local demonstration of a small ‘gasoline
seeder’ that the McCarthy team had designed and built.
Regrettably there were no pictures included. The article relates
that the device could be operated by a woman or a twelve-year-boy
and did away with the need for hand hoeing. It was mounted on two
wheels, and weighed 150 pounds. The seeder was considered a great
success by those who saw it in operation. Mr. McCarthy had recently
demonstrated the machine before the agricultural committee of the
Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, and there were pointed hints in the
newspaper article that the Sanduksy area Commercial Club would
attempt to keep the business local.
Some time passes before the next mention, which comes in the
Sandusky Register of May 27, 1919. It announces that McCarthy Jr.,
a graduate of Purdue University, has found the capital to
incorporate and begin production. He has become President and
General Manager of the Macultivator Company, recently incorporated
with $500,000 capital. Evidently he has built several prototypes
since the first one mentioned in June, 1918. He is now ready to
market a single model to be known as the ‘Motor
Macultivator.’ I assume that the Macultivator name is a
shortened form of McCarthy’s cultivator.
The May 1919 newspaper article informs us that the Motor
Macultivator is rated at 1 HP and runs at a speed of 1 mph. The
gasoline tank holds one gallon, which is said to operate the
machine for five hours. It is seventeen inches wide, and is
designed to be used with the customers hand cultivator tools. The
motor is placed in an exact balance in the center of the two drive
wheels. The driving gears attached to the motor are enclosed, and
the driving gears on the wheels are screwed on so that they may be
replaced. It is air-cooled, and the fan is driven from the flywheel
with a spring steel belt.
It is not explicitly stated, but it seems that the Macultivator
Company built their own engines. Both the clutch and the throttle
were controlled from the hand grip at the rear end of the handles.
The Motor Macultivators were built (not surprisingly) in the
factory of the Ohio Engine Company. A few machines had already been
built, and were a local hit. In fact, one was placed on display in
the front window of the local Manhattan Clothing Company (would you
like to buy your Sunday best from a rack next to a machine that
smelled of gasoline and oil?)
A trade magazine of the time gives the additional information
that the Macultivator weighs in at 210 pounds, has a 9′
clearance, and sells for $195. The engine has a 2′ bore, 3′
stroke, is designed to run at 1,000 rpm, and utilizes splash
A short mention in the Sandusky Register of June 22,
1919 details difficulties that the company experienced in setting
up for mass production, and generally gives excuses why the Motor
Macultivators were not yet readily available. It further outlines a
company plan to distribute an advertising booklet. Plans were also
announced to fit a lawn mower to the Motor Macultivator. It is my
personal assumption that this was a traction-driven reel mower,
rather than one powered directly by the engine.
The 1919-20 Sandusky City Directory duplicated exactly the
information given in the 1916-17 issue, with the exception that
Mack Joy’s widow is no longer listed. There is no 1918
The 1921-22 Sandusky City Directory again shows considerable
change. The Ohio Engine Company is no longer listed, nor is
McCarthy Sr. or his wife. McCarthy Jr. remains in the Sandusky area
along with his new bride, Lucille.
Doug Tallman supplied me with an advertisement from the August
1921, Farm Mechanics magazine that lists the Macultivator
company’s address in Toledo, Ohio. Sometime during late 1920 or
early 1921, Motor Macultivator production and financial backing was
moved sixty miles west to Toledo. There is no mention of the
Macultivator Company or either McCarthy in the 1921 Toledo City
Directory, or any previous issues. The Motor Macultivator Company
first appears in the 1922 Toledo City Directory, and is located at
1308-10 Dorr Street. This street has since been widened, and there
are no remaining traces of their building.
The Toledo City Directories indicate that McCarthy Sr. has moved
with the company to Toledo, and is Vice-president of the firm. His
fellow officers are financial investors who have other Toledo
interests, including the American Swiss Magneto Company, the Toledo
Steel Products Company, and the Bunting Brass & Bronze Company.
The 1923 Toledo City Directory presents essentially the same
information as the 1922 issue.
The 1924 Toledo City Directory gives us a few more changes,
including the fact that McCarthy Sr. is once again President of the
firm. We also learn the Toledo-based company was technically
different than the Sandusky-based firm, as the Toledo company was
incorporated in 1921 with $60,000. Evidently the financial backers
of the Sandusky-based firm took a heavy loss, as it seems they sold
a corporation with $500,000 capital for $60,000.
The management reorganization depicted in the 1924 directory was
evidently a last-ditch effort to revive the Motor Macultivator
Company, as the company does not appear in the 1925 or subsequent
Toledo City Directories. The 1925 directory lists McCarthy Sr. as a
factory worker at the American Swiss Magneto Company, which was
owned by a former Motor Macultivator financial backer. The 1927
Farm Implement News Buyer’s Guide indicates that
repair parts were still available at that time from the American
Swiss Magneto Company of Toledo.
Thus ends a rather short-lived and sad saga, but typical of many
of its day. Probably the number of Motor Macultivators built ran
into the thousands, but there is no surviving data on this
Doug and I only know of two surviving Motor Macultivators, both
of which belong to Doug. The picture accompanying this article is
of the better one; the other lacks the original Berling magneto,
gas tank, etc. Doug is an expert on early steel-wheeled garden
tractors, something that I am not. Both of Doug’s units were
equipped with Berling magnetos and Schebler Model B carburetors.
Seemingly Motor Macultivators did not have a typical nameplate to
identify them, as the only identification Doug found is the name
‘Macultivator’ cast inset into the throttle lever. The most
identifiable feature of the Macultivator are the seven
‘S’-shaped spokes in the drive wheels. Perhaps one of you
out there in Old Engine Land has a Macultivator, but hasn’t
been able to identify it.
Doug tells me that his better Macultivator had some original
paint remaining before he restored it. In general the tractor was
painted a dark green, including the cast iron crankcase, the hub of
the flywheel, the gas tank, and the wooden handles. He used GM
Fleet Green (GM color code WE5645), which is very similar to Acme
paint #3-16149. The upper portion of the engine was painted silver,
including the fan and the rim of the flywheel.
The gas tank on the restored unit has two compartments, a larger
one for gas and a smaller one which is connected through tubing to
the engine crankcase. Presumably the smaller compartment was
intended as an oil reserve. The round ends of the gas tank had the
remains of a decal, but it was too deteriorated to read. Doug and I
both feel that the decal was essentially the same as the Motor
Macultivator logo that I used as a heading for this article. I
created a digital image of the logo as shown in the August, 1921
Farm Mechanics magazine. Then I edited and expanded it, and gave
the good folks at GEM specific instructions as to what size to
print it. I wanted it to be available to anyone out there in Old
Engine Land who wanted to use it as an exact-size pattern for their
Both Macultivators have a spring-loaded wooden cone clutch in
the flywheel. The unrestored unit has an apparently authentic means
of engaging the clutch from the handles, whereas it appears that
the restored unit never had this attachment. This is somewhat
surprising, as the above-quoted May 1919 newspaper article states
that both the throttle and the clutch were controlled from the
handles. This difference between the two units leads us to
speculate that the restored unit is somewhat older than the
unrestored unit. Other differences are that the newer model has a
longer stroke, larger connecting rod bearing, and individual tin
cooling fins on the flywheel.
This concludes the findings of my research; I hope that it has
been of interest to GEM readers. If anyone has a
Macultivator, spare parts, relevant literature, or just would like
to talk about them, please contact Doug or me.
Farm Mechanics (magazine)
Farm Implement News (buyers guide)
Sandusky City Directories
1915, 16-17, 19-20, 21-22
Sandusky Register (newspaper)
December 29, 1914,
May 27, 1919
June 22, 1919
Sandusky Star Journal (newspaper)
June 11, 1918
Toledo City Directories
1921, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
Article from March 1, 1920 Chilton Tractor Journal.
Motor Macultivator is Light Two-Wheel Garden Tractor
THE small two-wheel garden-tractor built by the Macultivator
Co., Sandusky, Ohio, has features which are of more than passing
interest to both dealer and market gardner. To begin with, it is
just a garden cultivator propelled by an engine, and is not
designed for, nor erpected to do, plowing. Its simplicity,
compactness and light weight are features that appeal to the user.
It can be backed, which is also important. Being 17 in. overall in
width, and having a 9-in. clearance, makes it possible to be used
in the cultivation of onions, carrots etc., as well as to
‘straddle’ the row when close cultivation is desired.
The Macultivator is equipped with single-cylinder, air-cooled,
4-cycle engine of the company’s own design. It is placed in the
center of the machine, between the two drive wheels. The engine has
a 2-in.. bore and a 3-in. stroke, developing at 1000 r.p.m. 1
horse-power. The crankcase is a part of the main frame as will be
quite readily noted in the illustration.
Cooling is effected by a fan which is driven by a belt from the
flywheel. Ignition is furnished by a magneto, and the splash system
of lubrication is employed. All the engine gears are enclosed,
making them dust- and oil-proof. The machine is equipped with a
gasoline tank of about 1-gal. capacity, which is claimed to be
sufficient to operate the machine a full working day.
The power is transmitted to the drive wheels through semi-steel
gears; the gear ratio being 40:1. The gears can be disengaged by a
little lever in front which operates an eccentric. This enables the
operator to move the machine without its motive power. The clutch,
which is faced with wood blocks and which transmits the power from
the engine to the gears, is controlled by a lever from the hand
grip on the end of the left handle. By releasing this the machine
will stop instantly. The diameter of the bull gears is 14 in. and
the drive wheels are 20 in. diam., and have a 3-in. face, with
cleats cast integral.
The throttle is controlled from the hand grip at the end of the
right handle, which gives the operator complete control of the
machine at all times, the speed being under his control, also.
By reason of its low center of gravity and perfect balance the
machine is easily steered.
Manufacturer is that the machine can be used with any standard
cultivator tools. The tools are attached to a universal tool
holder, which, being slotted, permits the adjustment of the tools
so that they can be set according to the requirements of the
operator. The tool holder is in three sections, which permits the
adjustment of the holder as well as the position. To raise the
tools from the ground, a lever is provided within easy reach of the
operator. This is desirable when moving the machine from one place
to another and when turning at the end of the rows. The clearance
of 9 in. permits cultivation to within one-half inch of the
The weight of the machine is 210 lb.