Farm electric was a BIG business

Following from the Delco vibrator mystery, perusing 32V farm power systems. I was mainly curious about the form of the outlets. Was there a special plug for 32VDC so regular 110VAC appliances couldn’t be plugged in, and vice versa? No. At that time the two-pronged outlet was still rare; most houses had nothing but screw-in outlets to fit light bulbs. Wall outlets had flip-up covers to avoid shock. This was a STUPID way to connect things other than light bulbs, and it lasted way too long.

The real surprise: Everyone was getting into the farm power biz, with one glaring exception.

Delco of course:

Familiar electric companies like Westinghouse:

and Sunbeam:

Farm equipment makers like Allis-Chalmers:

and Fairbanks-Morse:

Car and engine companies like Willys:

and Cushman:

and Perkins (familiar now for diesel):

and Sturtevant, the company that invented the fully automatic transmission in 1905:

City power companies and farm coops and plumbing companies:

Who’s missing? The biggest electric company of all, and the biggest maker of generators, then and now. Edison alias General Electric. Edison did supply some of the batteries for the other companies, but not most. As far as I can tell, none of the generators were listed as Edison or GE.

Here’s a set of Willard batteries, typical of the era. 16 batts x 2V each = 32V in series. Glass batteries were beautiful and practical. You could see the level and the color and the bubbles without opening the cap.

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