The first ECO
air meter was made around 1916 or 1917 by the Western
Manufacturing Company, of Oskoloosa, Iowa. The
earliest patent record that I have found is from 1914.
It appears that
the first ECOs were actually called the Economy Air
Meters. The name was then shortened to ECO and is
pronounced EEEECO, not ECHO.
advertisement I have is for the ECO No. 8, from around
1917. The first seven were probably the Economy
Air Meters. The Model 8 through the Model 20 (the
number Model 20 was used twice, this is the early 20)
had an unique option, it could be purchased equipped
with a coin attachment. The coin attachment would
require the motorist to put in a nickel, dime or quarter
to get some air. I personally doubt that many of
these were sold. I do know of two 1917 era ECOs
having been found and have personally seen one.
1920s the Western Manufacturing Company also made
equipment used to repair Model T Fords. They made
engine stands, transmission stands, etc. To see
some of the equipment they made, click
ECO announced a new series of air meters which we have
ECO 19 Series Air
Meters. There were at least eleven
different units in this series.
In 1928 the ECO
Division of the Western Company was purchased by the
John Wood Company. Wood moved ECO to their Bryan,
Ohio factory. Bryan, Ohio, is a small town, but at
the time it was also the home of AERO, a large
manufacturer of automobile lubrication equipment.
There may be a connection here. Wood was a very
large corporation and had interests in many fields
beside automotive. In 1929 Wood created a new
division, calling it the Service Station Equipment
Company. In 1930 the Bennett Pump Company was
acquired by Wood and was made part of the SSEC Division.
At this time the ECO Company was made part of Bennett
and moved to Muskegon, Michigan.
In 1931 five
new ECO Air Meters were announced, we refer to them as
ECO 39 Series Air
Meters. With the depression, this was
not the best time for high price equipment, so in 1932
three more units were announced, the
ECO Series 15 Air
Meters. These were a very simple unit,
selling for the lowest prices ever charged for an ECO
In 1933, SSEC,
feeling the effect of the depression, decided to
consolidate their operations. Both the Bennett
Pump Company and ECO were moved to the SSEC
operations in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Before
they moved, all the 39 Series and the 15 Series ECOs had
the word ECO embossed on the front of the meter.
During the time they were in Conshohocken, the letters
SS were embossed on the front of the meter. 1934 saw the
announcement of a new series of ECOs, the
33 Series Air Meter.
These units contained the same mechanism that the
previous series had.
In 1937, all
SSEC operations returned to Muskegon, Michigan.
to sell the 33 Series through 1950, but they introduced
the 90 Series ECO in 1947. This is the unit we are
all familiar with. 1948 saw the introduction of
ECO Islander, the
120 Series. These units were made for
only four years and are very rare today. In 1952,
ECO announced the
240 Series Islanders,
which were made for many years. The ECO Model 97
and 98 are no longer being made, and it appears we are
the only ones still servicing them. Officially,
the ECO company no longer exists.
information about the ECO and other Air Meters, see my
IDENTIFICATION AND PRICE GUIDE," which is now