Description: While an urban and industrial center in its own right, Sioux City is still in the heart of the Midwest, a region that thrives due to its farms. When electricity became a staple of society, businesses sought a way to bring this new luxury out of the city and into the rural centers and farms. For Sioux City’s Wincharger Corporation, the answer was this 32-volt, wind-powered generator. Wincharger began as an idea by John and Gerhard Albers, who originally created a smaller wind generator that was used to power radios. They moved to Sioux City from their home in Cherokee, Iowa and incorporated their idea into a full-scale business, producing larger generators to power larger batteries and homes. In 1937 the company was bought by the Zenith Radio Corp, but most people still knew the company as Wincharger. Wincharger-Zenith manufactured radios for the Army during World War II, receiving the prestigious “E” award for their efforts. The company at this point was not only producing generators but dynamotors, machines that convert electric power to higher voltages and frequencies. By the 60s the company had two plants in Sioux City. The company was purchased by AMICOR and Windcharger was renamed Winco, withone of its two plants converted to manufacture only radios. In 1978 the plants in Sioux City closed and the company moved to Minnesota, where Winco became a major supplier of generators to rental and construction markets.
This Wincharger is an older one, made for generating electricity in rural environments. The yellow paddles on the side of the propeller create drag during high winds, controlling the rotations per minute (rpm) of the propeller and keeping the generator from overloading. This Wincharger was used in Ewing, Nebraska in the late 1930s, a small town that did not have readily available electricity. It powered a recreational complex called Summerland, a roller skating rink and dance hall.
Donor: Mike Tagel