In addition to building the Delco-Light plant, Charles Kettering added branches at the company’s Dayton, Ohio factory, and later at the new Rochester, New York, factory, to manufacture certain 32-volt DC- powered equipment and appliances which offered the same level of service as those manufactured for homes wired for 110-volt AC from the large power companies. Delco Appliance Division manufactured 32-volt shallow and deep well pumps for indoor plumbing, among other farm motors and household appliances. Electrical household appliance manufacturers, such as Robbins & Myers, Hamilton Beach, and Emerson, provided an assortment of 32-volt appliances to Delco-Light plant owners. These appliances were also available for purchase through catalog order companies of the day, such as Sears,
Roebuck & Company and Montgomery Wards. These 32-volt appliances included lamps, radios, fans, clothes washers, refrigerators, clothes irons, vacuum cleaners, coffee percolators, toasters, waffle irons, mixers, sewing machines, razors, and sheep shears. The Delco-Light Company took great pride in its portable power stands to operate belt drive farm and household equipment that was popular at the time, including creamers, fanning mills, and grinders. For a brief period in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Delco-Light Company manufactured gas generators for stove ranges and hot water heaters and home air conditioning.
Delco-Light appliance store in Boonville, New York, in 1920.
Around the same time the Delco-Light Company was getting started with farm electric light plants, it dedicated a portion of its engineering to supporting the U.S. military and its Allies during World War I by manufacturing the Liberty and Lorraine Dietrich aircraft engine ignition systems.
During WWI, Delco-Light manufactured ignition systems for Allied military aircraft engines.
The Delco-Light Company made a variety of machinery to support the U.S. military during WWII.
During World War II, light plant and appliance manufacturing was suspended at the Delco-Light
Company, as with the entirety of American industry, to build products that supported the massive war effort. “The Delco Appliance Division is replete with veterans of World War I, many of whom left us to join the colors in the last war and who, when the job was finished, returned to carry on where they left off,” the company wrote during World War II. Delco-Light is credited for manufacturing a range of military products including a motorized tricycle and motorcycle, machine gun mounts, engine generators, aircraft instrument motors, magnetos, aneroids, and special electric motors for all military branches.
After the war, Delco-Light plant manufacturing was briefly rekindled but stopped in 1947. Rural
electrification rendered the industry mute. Many companies involved in farm electric light plant
manufacturing quickly shifted to other products. Delco-Light was no exception and became a large supplier of automobile batteries and parts by the 1950s.
Delco Products Co. factory in Dayton, Ohio, 1939.
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