In the summers of the 1930s in our small Iowa farm town, a portable
roller skating rink would set up and an electric motor driven Wurlitzer
105 provided music. As a kid I loved that organ and hung out there in
summer, doing odd jobs.
One afternoon a thunderstorm put out the electric power and blew down
the tent. The tent was soon re-erected, and I was paid a few cents to
dry out the organ. The owners rounded up several gasoline lanterns as
the electric power could not be restored for at least one day. One
husky employee volunteered to improvise a hand crank and power the
organ for music that night; he tried and cranked it but he tired real
He then borrowed a Maytag washing machine engine, belted it up to the
organ, and it worked fine to provide music that night. The small
air-cooled Maytag engine was not the heavy "hit-and-miss" water-cooled
type; it was not too noisy and the speed regulation was good enough.
I seriously doubt if a slow speed, heavy, water-cooled, "hit & miss"
type engine was ever used to power a portable air calliope or band
organ. A truck mounted calliope used to come to our town once week
and drive up and down each street doing paid advertising; he had
a high-speed air-cooled engine to power the calliope blower. "Hit
and miss" engines were commonly used to grind corn, pump water or drive
cement mixers, where weight and speed regulation were not as important
as long life and easy maintenance.
Corpus Cristi, Texas