Every piece of antique farm equipment has a story. But we’re in 2018, so unless you’re lucky enough to have a family heirloom, it’s likely those stories are lost. That doesn’t stop Maytag engine collector Patrick Everett from thinking about where they’ve been while he tinkers.
“I find them intriguing,” Patrick says. “The mechanical is neat, but I also think of the history of where the engine has been, what it’s seen. It’s like a person. Every Maytag looks the same, but each one has a history.”
Patrick got into old equipment when his dad acquired a Model 92 Maytag, lovingly named Lazarus, when Patrick was 14 years old. (Read more about Lazarus in Gas Engine Magazine, August/September 1996.) Patrick’s dad, Gary, was looking for a hobby to keep his 14-year-old out of trouble. Working on old engines did the trick. “We fixed Lazarus up and it’s been a downhill slide since then,” Patrick says.
Twenty-four years later, Patrick still takes Lazarus to every show he attends, but his collection of Maytag engines has swelled into the 300s. And he’s expanded into other Maytag products, including an impressive collection of 100 washing machines.
Named for company founder
One of those is a rare Frederick washing machine produced from 1929-33. Patrick explains that during the Great Depression, Maytag Co., Newton, Iowa, was looking to make a quick buck and bought up many smaller companies, including the original producer of this machine. But the machines weren’t quite up to Maytag’s quality standards, so Maytag rebranded the machine as the Frederick (after Frederick L. Maytag, one of the company’s four founders).
Why Maytag continued producing the washers is unknown, but Patrick believes Maytag wanted to use up all the raw materials before changing the assembly line to Maytag’s standards. The Frederick washer doesn’t look like a Maytag, and it was cheaply made. Most people didn’t hold onto them, so there aren’t many left. Patrick got his Frederick from collector Don Henry last year. “I was really happy to get it,” Patrick says. “It’s the ultimate, rare piece.”
Other rare pieces in his collection include a Model 82 Short Base Top Fill, which he describes as his “holy grail” engine. He also recently acquired a Maytag wooden upright Model 44 washer at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. While it’s not exactly rare, it’s a very sought-after model as it was one of the first washers powered by a gas engine. “They never come up for sale,” he says. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Telling the story of a different world
Patrick is a firm believer in leaving his engines and washers in their work clothes. He loves finding original parts, and says he’s been successful 90 percent of the time getting the parts for his washing machines. And he’s adamant about having a working collection that people can see. “It makes the story,” he says. “It’s creating a second life. People like them a little sweaty looking.”
To give the whole Maytag story, Patrick also collects and displays advertisements with his engines and washing machines. The advertisements show how serious Maytag was about moving their products. “Back then it was about getting the product in people’s faces,” he says. “Their advertising people had to be genius, and they had their finger on it. They got the point across that it was the best engine out there.”
The advertisements also help explain to younger generations how hard it was for Maytag to sell their wares in an era before the internet, mass communication and social media. “It was just word-of-mouth and a lot of walking,” Patrick says.
“Every one has a story”
It takes time and patience to put together a collection like Patrick’s. He primarily acquires new pieces from other collectors he knows through clubs and social media. Other collectors, like Don Henry, have been instrumental in getting Patrick back in the hobby after he took a break to start his family.
“I’m blessed and proud to have my collection,” Patrick says. “My dad has been supportive, and my 15-year-old son, Walker, helps out. My daughter, Jaclyn, is 10 and will go to every show, and she loves showing the washing machines.”
Patrick shows no signs of slowing down and hopes to continue creating new stories for Maytag engines and washers. “It’s just a piece of junk to most people,” he says. “It’s been in a shed for 40 years. But every one has a story, and I think about it when I’m fixing it up.” FC
Patrick Everett lives in Ottawa, Kan. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Beavers is the former associate editor of Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine. Contact her at email@example.com.
Adapt and Survive
Maytag didn’t start out with washing machines. Although the company is famous for its washing machines and, among engine collectors, for the little air-cooled gasoline engines used to power clothes washers in the days when many homes had no electricity, it was a different story in the early days, when Maytag built self-feeders for threshing machines.
In 1907, Maytag launched a line of washing machines as a way to fill seasonal slack times in the farm equipment business. The first Maytag washer, called the “Pastime,” had a cypress tub that was corrugated on the inside. A hand-crank turned a wooden spinner inside, forcing the clothes along the corrugated tub sides. In 1911, Maytag rigged an electric motor to the washer and, since most rural homes had no electricity, a gasoline engine-driven version was made available in 1915.
Meanwhile, in 1909, F.L. Maytag bought three-fifths of the Mason (Iowa) Automobile Co., renamed the firm Maytag-Mason Motor Car Co., and moved it to Waterloo, Iowa. Maytag cars and light trucks were built for a couple of years, but Maytag abandoned the automobile business in 1912. A 12-25 Maytag tractor powered by a 4-cylinder Waukesha engine was built in about 1916, but it didn’t last long.
In about 1922, Maytag employee Howard Snyder developed a washer with an aluminum tub and an agitator that used violent water action, rather than direct contact, to remove dirt from clothes. It was a tough sell at first, but F.L. Maytag finally convinced a few dealers to try his new washer. Housewives loved it, and within 18 months of its introduction the Maytag “Gyrofoam” was the most popular washing machine in America. Maytag soon achieved greater washer sales than the next four competitors combined.
Maytag developed several accessories designed to make his washer more versatile. With the proper attachments, the machine could be used to churn butter and grind meat. Soon Maytag was making irons and carpet sweepers, and the farm equipment business was discontinued. – Farm Collector Archives