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History MotoMeter Gauge & Equip. Co. (National Gauge & Equip. Co)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Speed~On, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    At times I am asked about the history of the MotoMeter Gauge Co. Some of you may be familiar with the high quality and beautiful gauges they produced in the early 1900's thru 1952. The company was in existence for almost 52 years. During this time, ownership changed hands several times.


    1910 - 1913 Hans Motor Equipment Company (Minneapolis, MN)

    La Crosse, WI
    1913 - 1926 National Gauge & Equipment Co.
    1926 - 1934 MotoMeter Gauge & Equipment Co.
    1934 - 1952 Electric Auto-Lite Co,

    The National Gauge & Equipment Company was an early and very successful local business associated with the automobile industry. Local entrepreneurs Philo Gelatt and Daniel McMillan purchased the Hans Motor Company in 1913, and changed the name to the National Gauge & Equipment Company and built a new factory on Gillett Street in 1914 in La Crosse, WI. As the name suggests, the business made gauges, heaters and instruments for the growing automobile industry.

    In 1926, Philo Gelatt bought out his partner and changed the business name to the Moto Meter Gauge & Equipment Company. By the late 1920s the company became the largest producer of automotive gauges in the US. It was also one of the largest employers in the city, accounting for 20% of all manufacturing jobs in La Crosse.

    In 1934, the business was purchased by the Electric Auto-Lite Company, assuming that name. The Electric Auto-Lite Company remained in business in La Crosse until 1959. The building is currently used for commercial storage. --Footsteps of La Crosse.

    upload_2020-1-22_13-35-44.jpeg



    Many automobile manufactures and wood boat companies used these gauges. They could be found in Auburns, Chris Craft wood boats, White Trucks, Packard's and Autocar to name a few. It's easy to become confused when searching for these gauges. The company supplied gauges to the automotive industry, so searching by a single automobile manufacturer may not yield many results The logo was also changed each time the company changed hands/names.

    Here are some of the gauges I have from MotoMeter Gauge & Equip. Co. and National Gauge & Equipment Co. The quality of these gauges is amazing. Although they are old, they still look amazing and work great.


    MotoMeter Temp Gauge (early 1930's) 2 3/8" rear mount
    upload_2020-1-22_13-34-48.jpeg

    Sorry about the glare off the glass from my kitchen lights
    upload_2020-1-22_13-36-33.jpeg


    Early 1930's MotoMeter temp gauge with a brass rear case. 2 3/8" rear mount
    upload_2020-1-22_13-37-43.jpeg

    upload_2020-1-22_13-37-57.jpeg

    MotoMeter 3 1/2" 100 PSI Oil Pressure gauges (early 1930's)
    upload_2020-1-22_13-38-37.jpeg

    MotoMeter AMPS Gauge (early 1930's) 2 3/8" rear mount
    upload_2020-1-22_13-41-11.jpeg


    National Gauge & Equipment Co. (1913 - 1926) 30 PSI Oil Pressure
    upload_2020-1-22_14-7-50.jpeg


    upload_2020-1-22_13-50-19.jpeg



    This beautiful Auburn panel is not mine. It is however a fine example of how great these gauges look when put to use.
    upload_2020-1-22_14-7-1.jpeg



    Please share photos of your National Gauge Co. /MotoMoter Gauges!

    @fleetside66
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  2. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,284

    Budget36
    Member

    I'll have to dig mine out, I only have ones for radiator caps.
     
  3. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,561

    fleetside66
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks for taking the time to research that material, Terry. This stuff is very obscure & is not easily conjured up, even with the information world now at our fingertips. That picture of the factory workers is priceless.

    Here's a little donation on my part, an early NG&E temp gauge. Check out the dates. It's over a century old, used, and still functions with no restoration whatsoever.
    IMG_4596.jpg
     

  4. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    That's a great gauge Greg, thank you for sharing. You are probably the most astute HAMB member when it comes to this line of gauges. Not only that I would bet you have owned more of these than most anyone. You are right in that the information on MMG&E/NG&EC is very limited, making them a bit more mysterious. As with a lot of the items we seek for our hot rods, these gauges are becoming difficult to find. The amazing part is when you do find one, chances are good, that it will work. This is certainly a product where the phrase, "they don't make them like they used to" would be appropriate and well earned.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
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  5. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,630

    continentaljohn
    Member

    Great stuff
     
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  6. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,552

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    View attachment 4552504
    This is the setup I have to adjust the electric fan. Since I can’t see it from the cockpit, I depend on a motometer for temps while I drive. DAD38CF6-003D-4615-8000-3881A2D1C6FD.jpeg
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
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  7. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    I actually have something to contribute here.

    I am a product of manufacturing families in LaCrosse Wi. LaCrosse used to be more of a manufacturing hub than nowadays. When I first started in my career (1991) in manufacturing in this area, I actually worked with quite a few people that worked for Auto-Lite.

    My great-grandfather worked for National Gage as a German immigrant as a Tool and Die Maker.

    As a Toolmaker myself I am the one in the family that inherited his toolbox. This is the toolbox that was brought from Germany where he learned the trade. 20200123_135520.jpg
    I had been told that he worked for another large engraving company in town, Northern Engraving, but have learned it was National Gage. This would have been early 20's.

    So, when I recieved his toolbox, it was missing almost all his tools, which I was somewhat disappointed about, but I still had the toolbox, right. I went to clean it up, after many years of neglect. I noticed some kind of liner in the bottom of the drawer. So, I pull them up and what do I find..... 20200123_135520.jpg 20200123_135443.jpg 20200123_135436.jpg
    The bottoms of all the drawers are lined with what I figure are old proofs from the Dodge Bros gas gauge. I figure they are proofs because some of them have nice crisp lines and others have some smudges to them.

    My great-grandfather moved on from National Gage to The Trane Company and finished his career there. My grandfather was not a toolmaker, but his 3 brothers were and and 2 of them moved on to be engineers and hold quite a few patents with The Trane Company.
     
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  8. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    Looking at the photo in of the Govnm't inspectors show a few, what look to me like, inspection gauges and rings. That may explain some of the tools I took out of the toolbox.... I dont remember where I put them, I will look later for them and post if they are related to this post.
     
  9. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    @UNSHINED 2 What an amazing heirloom! How great it is to have something that was such a big part of your great grandfather's life. The cherry on top is you're in the same line of work. The toolbox and proof are such cool contributions to this thread. They're also a great piece of American history. Thank you so much for sharing.

    As a gauge geek, that proof is incredible. It would be great to see photos of the tools if you find em'.
     
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  10. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    @Speed~On Yeah, I never expected there would be any person or group of people that would have any interest in this toolbox and it was a complete fluke that I happened to turn the drawer liners over to see the Gas Gauges.

    The toolbox really is a testament to the beginnings of a new life. He brought this toolbox from his home country to build a new life for him and his future generations. It is humbling for me to have it, and I keep it with pride.

    I dont remember any markings on the tools that would provide absolute proof, but they were covered in surface rust. We'll see.

    I do have a couple of gauges at home from the Auto-Lite plant from the mid-50's, too. I believe they are from a 55-56 Chrysler. Pretty sure they were 2nds/damaged, as they had a couple scratches in the paint. But were wrapped in newspaper from 1955. Stupid me, I threw away the paper I had that they were wrapped in....:eek:o_O:mad:
     
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  11. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,561

    fleetside66
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Amazing story, Unshined, really. Who knows, maybe your great grandfather laid his hands on one of these gauges here? I ran across a few more oldies in my stuff. The one on the left is an NG&E & the one on the right is an Auto-Lite. The one on the left is the same style as Terry's oil pressure shown above, but the bezel is different.

    IMG_4602.jpg
     
  12. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    Yeah, for a second I thought that could've been him sitting at the table working in that photo. Until I read it was inspectors.

    I'm gonna be buying ALL the gauges I can find now. :)
     
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  13. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member


    That is a VERY addicting and expensive rabbit hole you're about to go down!! Ask me how I know;):D:D It is quite fun though.

    @fleetside66 @continentaljohn and @titus
    There is no cure for the "gauge bug". Just a 12 step program with lots of great guys!
     
  14. Great thread yet again, and yes Speed-On your collection makes me very jealous..:p
     
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  15. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,561

    fleetside66
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here are a couple more Moto-Meter visions. The first is one that I had that is now in the dash of another from here. The second & third are doing their duty on the water, not the streets. The panels are S/W, but the gauges are MMG&E. Old gauges rule.
    IMG_2362.JPG s-l1600 copy 17.jpg not-specified-261119.jpg
     
  16. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,630

    continentaljohn
    Member

    Wow fleetside great looking panels and awesome boats. I didn’t know much about my dash panel besides being cool and thinking it had Stewart Warner gauges . It great to know more about it and now maybe I can find the gauge I am missing and look for the correct maker. image.jpg
     
  17. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    Sorry John, I should have done a better job explaining that panel and gauges. As always Greg has my back:D @fleetside66 has owned several great examples of these beautiful panels. The gauge panels he's owned (and the one you currently have) were often found in wood boats from the 1930's such as Chris Crafts. Here is another example. Note the low RPM of the tach. Also, your tach spins in the opposite direction, which was incredibly common for marine use. (BTW John, your panel is awesome!)

    These panels look outstanding when used in a hot rod.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    If you're looking for an engine turned front face insert as pictured above, Fleetside66 can tell you where to find them. Or, if you want to use your current front insert, I can engine turn that for you (Of course I will do it at no charge for you)
    John, as far as you wanting to fill that last hole with a MotoMeter rear-mount gauge you have 2 options.
    Option 1)
    You can find a MotoMeter Temp gauge. They are beautiful and getting hard to find. I have a line on one that has been recently restored by a Wood Boat company in Illinois. Here is a photo of it that they recently sent me. If you're interested, give me a call and I will get you the contact info. It's ready for use!
    upload_2020-1-25_10-51-0.jpeg


    Option 2)
    You could find a MotoMeter Oil Pressure gauge. The one pictured below is owned by Pat Swanson.
    Screenshot_20200125-130437_Instagram.jpg


    And yes, Greg has had some amazing gauges and gauge panels!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  18. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    Thank you @kadillackid I greatly appreciate it. Who knows, maybe some day I'll just sell everything I have and all you guys will be rockin' my gauges:D

    Thank you Fleetside66 for posting the photos of your panels. I knew you would get a kick out of this thread.

    I have another MotoMeter rear-mount Temp gauge coming. I bought it because they are so hard to find and rarely come up for sale. So, I thought I had best jump at the opportunity while it presented itself so I'm not kicking myself later. I'll post a photo of it.
     
  19. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,630

    continentaljohn
    Member

    Speedon thank you for the info and knowledge and expertises on the gauges and panels. This is why I like when we meet at the shows and I pick your brain. Also thank you on the offer of engine turning the panels for me. When I worked at the one Job Shop (tool&die) we built fancy machines as well as rebuilding precision instruments. I got to learn from the old timers on lost techniques like hand scraping ways and jewelling. In fact I made a program for my cnc machine to do engine turning.
    I will have to look and see if I have that gauge and and though I had one it maybe packed away from the move.
    I assumed that was a Stewart Warner panel as my 1943 Boating magazine had a ad in it with a similar panel. I may just have to use the other gauge if I cant find it.. what a great thread and awesome information. image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  20. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,270

    Speed~On
    Member

    Will the mounting studs on the back side of that panel align with the mounting ears on the 50psi oil pressure gauge? It would look nice mounted in your panel.
     
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  21. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    I know these aren't extreme Motometer vintage gauges, but, they are from the 50's and they are from the Auto-Lite Co. in LaCrosse. I know they were hi-jacked out of there as 2nds, because I got them from the hi-jacker. The oil pressure line is even on the oil pressure gauge on the group cluster.

    I have one other really old gauge that is just a plain Stewart gauge, I'm assuming from before they joined up with Warner? I dont want to derail thos thread with that though. Screenshot_20200125-161700_Gallery.jpg
     
  22. UNSHINED 2
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 994

    UNSHINED 2
    Member

    I have always had a huge interest in gauges, but scarcity of information has kind of kept me away from collecting them. I, too, thank you for the information you all have shared so far!

    You guys have some really super nice set-ups, I'm envious!
     
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  23. Walle
    Joined: Jul 6, 2007
    Posts: 76

    Walle
    Member

    [​IMG]

    I had a pale MotorMeter oil pressure gauge to match my og 33 gauges in my old 33 roadster.

    Never got hold of what it came from. It was in really nice condition, maybe NOS.



    Skickat från min iPhone med H.A.M.B.
     
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  24. Wow, perfect match :rolleyes:...
     
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  25. I have a Motometer radiator cap temperature gage that is for Model T. At least it was with a bunch of Model T stuff my father had. Has bar handles out each side. Going from memory, i am not home right now to actually get a picture. The threads are approx 2 inch diam and very fine thread, has a dipstick like rod extending down into the radiator. Appears to me that it is just a fancy version of a thermometer. Is this anything special? It does say motometer on it, if my memory is right.
     
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  26. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,561

    fleetside66
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Moto Meter fever! Here's a duplex, new in the feakin' box.
    IMG_4797.jpg
     
  27. Not quite as nice as fleetsides Moto meter, but still sexy is my used duplex :) 20191211_060313.jpg
     
  28. Canuck
    Joined: Jan 4, 2002
    Posts: 1,049

    Canuck
    Member

    Nothing as exotic as some of the gauges and panels shown. My little addition to the showing.
    upload_2020-2-18_0-51-31.png
    upload_2020-2-18_0-52-22.png
    Chrome bezel screws on from the front, case has original grey paint. Inner workings look and work like new. Mounting studs were cut off, soldered replacements on.

    This is part of a clearing of stuff, if anyone is interested.
     
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  29. Lazlobassett
    Joined: Apr 12, 2010
    Posts: 478

    Lazlobassett
    Member

    was digging around today, came across this one, I had no idea it was the precursor to Moto Meter. Any idea what this went to?
     

    Attached Files:

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