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Milburn Wagon Company

Milburn Wagon Company

The Milburn Wagon Company made the Milburn Light Electric from 1915 to 1923.

George Milburn (1820-1883) was born in Alston, England (June 3, 1820), from where he emigrated to Canada. After a short residence in Canada, he moved to Goshen, Indiana, in 1835. In 1847, Milburn brought his family to Mishawaka, Indiana. A daughter, Ann, became the wife of Clement Studebaker.

In 1848, Milburn started George Milburn Co., which owned a prosperous general store at the corner of Main and Vistula Streets. He invested money in the Mishawaka Hydraulic Co. and bought a one-third interest in James Oliver's first plow company. On August 23, 1869, the Milburn Wagon Company was incorporated, with a capital of $100,000. Milburn also owned a hotel and a city block, and had Joseph County farm land.

In 1873, George Milburn moved the the complete operation of the wagon company to Toledo, Ohio. The factory opened in the spring of 1875 and soon became the largest manufacturer of farm wagons in the world. The Milburn Wagon Works, with its completely mechanized production, required workers only to operate the machines.

The 1912 Ford Model T Delivery Wagon bodies were built by O.J. Beaudette and Milburn. In late September of 1914, the Milburn Wagon Company began the manufacture of their 1915 Milburn Light Electric automobiles, based on a design by Karl Probst, who later designed the Bantam Jeep. During their eight years of production, from 1915 to 1923, they turned out over 4,000 cars.


 

1920 Milburn Show car info.

Milburn ad 1917

The 1915 Milburn Light Electric Coupé (Model 15) sold for $1,485 and the Roadster (Model 151) for $1,285; both were built on the same chassis with a 100-inch wheelbase. The Milburn was the lowest-priced electric of the time and much lighter than its competition. The 1915 Milburn had four forward speeds and two reverse speeds. It had a range of about 50 miles on a charge and could attain a speed of about 15 MPH as a Coupé and about 19 MPH as a Roadster.

In 1916, Milburn introduced a Brougham and, in 1917 added a Touring style (advertised as a Limousine or a Town Car) to the line; this style featured an open front driving position and an enclosed rear passenger compartment (also with a driving position, as noted below). Also offered was a Light Delivery truck style for $985 (with various bodies for it starting at $100), discontinued after the 1918 model year.


1918 Milburn Electric

In 1918, Milburn offered a Sedan that looked more like its gasoline-burning competition and which boasted a top speed of 30 MPH and a range of 100 miles on a charge. Also in 1918, Milburn put the batteries in wheeled boxes to facilitate rapid exchange of spent batteries for charged ones at central power exchanges.

The Coupé or Brougham driver controlled steering and speed by levers (tillers) which hinged down onto the lap of the driver from the left side. The Roadster and the Sedan had steering wheels, and the Limousine had both kinds of steering, a wheel up front and a tiller in the rear.

 


A Milburn dealership in Sandusky, OH.

In 1920, Milburn produced a taxicab. At some point  Milburn also produced a line of electric trucks -- a ½ ton chassis selling for $1,585 (Model 43) and a 1 ton chassis for $1,985 (Model 40). The buyer could select from a full line of cab and bed styles at various prices to complete the truck according to their needs.

The Milburn plant was destroyed by fire in 1919, with losses totaling $900,000, including 30 completed electrics and even more automobile bodies. In January, 1920, production continued in a building on the grounds of Toledo University. In 1921, Milburn Wagon Company capitalization was increased to $1 million; at that time, the company's 800-man workforce was comprised of 200 men building cars and 600 building automobile bodies, largely for Oldsmobile. In February, 1923, General Motors purchased the plant for $2 million; Milburn workers remained in the plant for the two months following, finishing up cars and bodies previously under contract. Then, Buick moved in and the Milburn Electric was no longer produced.

The Milburn Electrics were among the most popular and elegant cars of the time and were used by President Woodrow Wilson's secret service men. President Wilson, himself, owned a 1918 Milburn Electric, which he drove around the White House grounds.

Above from www.milburn.us