Margaret Maytag

The story of this unusual-looking engine began in late June 1933 in Newton, Iowa, USA,where she was created to make the life of the American housewife easier by powering a washing machine. She was given the serial number 501976, and we assume she performed her intended duties for many years.

In November 1998, an engine enthusiast named Dr John Culp of Bristol, Tennessee discovered her in a junkyard, looking the worse for wear. With another two similar engines, John took her home where she was welcomed by his daughter Jennifer who decided it was time to join her father and brother Joseph in having her own engine. However, an "ordinary" restoration was not what Jennifer had in mind - she wanted this engine painted the colour of her favourite nail polish, a vivid purple. This was greated with derision by the male members of the Stationary Engine Mailing List. As my own favourite colour is purple, I encouraged Jennifer enthusiastically in her endeavour.

The next time we heard of Margaret (known at the time as Molly) was at the New Year Crank-Up, when she ran happily alongside Joseph's Maytag, named Little Dave, awaiting her restoration which was to take place in the spring. However, in February 1999, the List was given the news that I had been taken to hospital suffering from what appeared at first to be a stroke. It was soon more accurately identified as MS and by the beginning of March, I was back at home learning to cope with almost the complete loss of use of my right leg and arm. Typing messages left-handed, I was soon back in touch with the List. John and I joked about the possibilty of my getting a Maytag, which, with its kick start pedal, would be good physiotherapy for my right leg. It set the seed of an idea, and John contacted several members of the List who could help bring his idea to fruition.

Unfortunately, Engine Show Season had not begun, and the hunt for a suitable engine was not successful. The Culp family had a discussion and enthusistically embraced the project. Jennifer very kindly agreed to donate Molly (to be replaced at a later date) and Joseph offered to replace some missing or broken parts by cannibalising Little Dave. Many List members contributed knowledge, parts and of course, towards the cost of restoration and shipping. Once the main purple and gold colour scheme was complete, Jennifer artistically completed the visual aspect of the engine with a design of flowers and bees. Looking now as Jennifer had first intended, it was decided that "Molly" was not quite right for her new personality, and she officially became Margaret. Pictures and the full story of the project can be seen on John's homepage.

John completed the restoration by fixing her onto small skids of American Red Oak and she was expertly crated up for her flight to England, where she arrived on March 30th, to my complete and utter surprise. We unpacked her carefully, she posed for some photographs then we filled the fuel tank, kicked the starter and, well-bred lady that she is, away she went with the enthusiastic popping sound unique to Maytags.

This was a totally unexpected, much appreciated, very generous gift. She will be loved and cared for, taken to shows and treated with all the respect such a special and unique machine deserves.

Click on the thumbnails for larger Jpegs ...

Reading the letter which came with the crate

Posing with Margaret and the "optional accessory" in the garden

Rogan and me with the running Maytag

The brass plaque fixed to the skid

No trick photography, this Maytag is running

Close up of the flywheel side

Margaret, displaying the artist's signature

The "Optional Maytag Accessory"





©FBI 1999