Farm Collector

Chicago Water Motor Search

Curator Billings Farm and Museum Box 489 Woodstock, Vermont

On August 6, 1890, George Aitken purchased a No. 11, Chicago
Water Motor for $59.50 for use in powering a 55-gallon capacity
Davis Swing Churn. Upon receipt, the water motor was installed in
the new creamery located in the large cellar of the newly built
farm manager’s house. By opening a Jenkins valve on 1′
galvanized pipe, water flowed into the motor’s turbine
mechanism. The water motor’s horsepower was determined by the
size of the internal jet or nozzle and the pressure of the water.
The water pressure is believed to have been in the area of 40 to 60
p.s.i. The Chicago Water Motor’s horsepower is thought to have
been 1 to 2 horsepower. The motor’s shaft was belted to a
ceiling mounted line shaft that in turn was belted to a floor
mounted line shaft with an off-set cam mounted on its end. By the
means of the cam-driven pitman or drive arm the Davis Swing Churn
was set in motion at the suggested rate of thirty-four strokes per

In its literature the Chicago Water Motor Company noted that,
‘No. 11 and 12 are suitable for all heavy work, such as large
meat choppers, printing offices with four to six presses, large
coffee mills; also roasters, grindstones, etc. are furnished with
governors where parties desire to use them, and where their
machinery requires it.’

After installing what may have been the first water motor in
town, the local paper, The Vermont Standard, testified to its
effectiveness on December 8, 1887, noting: ‘THE STANDARD is
this week, for the first time, printed by water power, the water
being supplied by the Woodstock Aqueduct Company and our machine,
the Chicago Motor. It works to perfection and to say that it is a
comfortable thing ‘to have in the house’ but faintly
expresses our satisfaction. No fuel, no fire, no heat, no smoke, no
dust, no care really, it is a wonderful little servant, always
ready and always reliable.’

The Billings Farm and Museum wishes to locate a Chicago Water
Motor either to purchase or to use as a prototype for reproduction
in order to install a functioning exhibit of this 1890

If you have information as to the survival and location of a
Chicago Water Motor, please contact Bob Benz, Curator; Billings
Farm and Museum, Box 489; Woodstock, Vermont, 05091, or phone

  • Published on Jul 1, 1988
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