Help with Electric Motor

I have 10,000 cards to imprint as a donation to a non profit.
Decided to use my Golding, but it lacks a treadle and currently the motor is not wired. Pushing the flywheel is better than pulling my small tabletop press. It is still a very slow process however.

The motor is a Sprague Electric Works dated Aug 15, 1816

The plate says 110/220

This is the current plug for it.

and here is the business side of the wiring.

What are my options?

Can anyone tell me exactly how to rewire this for 110? and then would it still require a 20 amp breaker? (which my entire basement is wired for)

Can I simply change out the plug for an electric dryer style plug? (also available in the basement) Would it hurt anything considering that plug is on a 30 amp breaker?

Thank you!!

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The big lump I assumed to be the peckerhead doesn’t appear to be that at all — it appears to be constructed like a transformer…

You have there a 100 year old motor that has open joints outside an enclosure. Check with a local electrician to see if it can still be legally used. Is there a chance of pets or children getting near it. It could be a fire hazard and insurance company’s can get upset easy in today’s world.Some older motors are large enough to take off the ends and hide a modern safe motor in the shell.
Good Luck

From a quick run thru of your pics at first glance you have a dual voltage/ 2 speed Repulsion-Induction motor.

It appears to be wired for 220 volt with a twist lock plug that has 4 contacts and only 3 wires going to it.

Switch appears to be set up for 220 operation, since it looks like it breaks both hot wires.

My thoughts are that you should use a volt ohm meter on the plug to determine the basics of the wiring, ie; black and red are hot, white is neutral or ground, does switch act on both sets of wires, is hot wires grounded to frame,etc.

If I can get a little down time tonight I will try to create a wiring diagram from your pics and see what else we can learn about this motor.

Once we get some basic info on the wiring and its condition then we can go to step 2. Need to make sure it is safe before we apply any power.


In Your 6610 shot, the unit sitting atop the Motor proper, is probably the start capacitor, with the type of brush gear You show almost synonymous with that type of motor.
Look up your own *on line* schematics, the capacitor normally in parallel across the Neg./Pos. mains in, smooths out the surge of power on start up
Apart from that, open brush gear, running on the exposed commutator/segements, in a chemical laden atmosphere Was/Is also bad news.?
The amount of Current and Ampere-age as potentially being possible, from Your *Plug* shot would suggest that it will cost a fortune in Electricity.!!
By implication, run through a dedicated supply, with a circuit breaker or Calibrated, Oil Filled, dash Pot system that allows for fine tuning to suit the load requirements, on that stated H.P. (normally) in the order of 5 - 7 amps.!
Having massively *over*-rated breakers, (generally) is self defeating.

All in All, as already suggested, above and unfortunately, *Bite the Bullet* drastic but seems to make sense.****

****Apologies. The Author has made these mistake(s).?
As a one person operation, was NOT governed by H.& S. but in rented Workshop space and under Our U.K. *Enterprise Allowance scheme* was governed by the Landlords Fire Certificate conditions.!!!

Yes it is a repulsion motor. Specifically a Type BSS, Brush Shifting Motor.

I know it’s not specifically 2 speeds, but is variable form 900rpm up to 1800rpm. Moving the brush yoke changes the speed.

It is wired for single phase 220V, of that I’m certain. I believe it was wired into a 3 phase style plug because it was a hanging plug and they wanted the twist lock. Why they used that and not a single phase twist lock I do not know.

I’m fairly certain, after a bit of research, that the peckerhead on top is a starting capacitor, it’s just so old now no one is really used to a capacitor that looks like that.

A cover will be made to cover the open end of the motor.

I realized today that I have electric heat in the same room. I don’t use it so currently those breakers are off. They are 220v 20A breakers and the closest 220 to the press. If I can’t rewire it for 110v, which is right behind the press, then I’ll disconnect the heaters and use that power.

What I have come to understand is that changing from 220V to 110V is a matter of the connections for the 4 poles. Problem is I cannot find a diagram for a 4 pole motor of this type. The only one I find is a name plate on a GE 1hp motor. Same type (BSS, Brush shifting) but that has 6 poles.

The attached photo shows the how it is wired now for 220V. L1 connects to the starting capacitor(#4?). L2 connects to Pole4 (assuming 1-4 top to bottom) Neutral I presume connected to the frame of the motor? From the starting capacitor the first connection (#1?) is to Pole 1, the other connection (#2?) is to poles 2 &3. The last connection (33) is unused.

Thank you for all the help and advise. I can always take more photos if it helps anyone.

image: IMG_6620.jpg

It might be smart to hire an electrician - if you get this wrong, you could burn your house down - if you let an electrician do it, at least you can sue him/her if the motor starts a fire.

In the long run, a replacement motor will be much more efficient (cost less to run) and will be safer.


Since this is a typical variable-speed motor as used by many printers, perhaps David McMillan has some manufacturer’s information on his website — have you checked there? If he has scanned and posted the information on this kind of motor (I don’t know if the Kimble, which is the most widely used, has the same wiring setup) you might find a wiring diagram for the two possible voltage setups.


Definitely not a Kimble. Those are, iirc, induction motors with a fixed brush yoke. To make them variable they use a series of resistors.

As it turns out it seems everything was misleading. I hooked a standard 110V plug to the motor just to see what would happen. Spins up just fine. All kinds of power.

My best guess is it was wired for 220V at one point, then rewired for 110V and who ever did it just used the wiring that was there for the 220V, which is what made it so misleading.

Either that or as someone said on Letpress, it’ll run with either supply? Everything I find seems contrary to that however. Anything I could find, and there is little, points to the poles needing to be wired differently for 110v and 220V.

right on the plate it says “110/220”. but looking to the left of that, under “Ampere” it says “6/3”.i would no bigger than 20 amp breaker. “horsepower” is directly related to “Watts” ,both ratings of power. this is why when dropping the voltage in half, the amps double. “Watts” is “Volts x Amps” a 1/2 hp motor is always going to want to develop 1/2 hp, or approx 400 watt.

right on the plate it says “110/220”. but looking to the left of that, under “Ampere” it says “6/3”.i would no bigger than 20 amp breaker. “horsepower” is directly related to “Watts” ,both ratings of power. this is why when dropping the voltage in half, the amps double. “Watts” is “Volts x Amps” a 1/2 hp motor is always going to want to develop 1/2 hp, or approx 400 watt.