Stewart-Warner Model 746 (1930s) Previous
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This meter was conceived by some people within FDR's administration who thought the average price of $20 for a residential meter being asked by the existing meter manufacturers was too much, thinking $5 would be a reasonable price for meters being purchased by the rural electric coops that were just getting started at this time. Stewart-Warner (whose experience was mainly on various types of voltmeters, spedometers etc.) was the only company willing to try and make such a meter, and developed two models. The one shown cost a little more than $5, but was close enough to satisfy those who commissioned its design. The 746 shown is not complete; it mounted onto a breaker panel with the same finish, making for an integrated package when installed (never mind that the 'big 4' companies already had developed standardized mounting arrangements for meters). Stewart-Warner did produce an even more primitive model that met the $5 criteria and which was the 746-A; it has its own terminal chamber and a 3-digit cyclometer register. There are a number of features unique to the 746 - the first being the finish; it has a 'crinkle' finish over steel instead of aluminum alloy or lacquered cast iron bases as on other meters. The base and all internal support pieces are made of steel punchings (as done on the Westinghouse OB, for example). The register mechanism uses an absolute minimum of parts - there is only ONE gear between the disk and the register drums. The register drums are unique as the spindles that advance each drum are concealed between the drums themselves. Instead of the normal sliding or hook-type test link, the test link is a knurled nut on a screw that can be backed out to break contact with a spring. The most unique feature of this meter is the push button switch on the right side behind the cover interlock - this illuminates the light seen just to the right of the register. Despite efforts by FDR's administration to force rural coops to standardize on these meters, its poor performance in service and on the test bench and incompatibility with mountings made for meters made by the 'big 4' manufacturers doomed these two models. One coop in the southeast part of the US was reportedly so dissatisfied with this model, once all these were removed from service, they were promptly used as fill underneath the site of a new shop building. While a small number of 746 meters have survived, only a couple are known to exist with the fusebox attached. Even fewer 746-A meters have been confirmed still in existence. Stewart-Warner 746
David Dahle collection