Vintage 1930's Marco Airpump, Marco Water Pump, and Jewel External Filter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2020, 04:56 AM Thread Starter
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Vintage 1930's Marco Airpump, Marco Water Pump, and Jewel External Filter

Thought I'd share my recent acquisition, a Marco Model A air pump and a Marco F10 external filter. I collect and restore Jewel aquariums from the 1920's-30s and I have a Jewel catalog from 1937 that has a page devoted to these two items so I know it would have been an accessory to my late Model 90 Jewel tank. Once the tank is restored I'll photograph everything hooked up so you can see what high tech was nearly a century ago.
The Marco Model A air pump is uncommon but I wouldn't call it rare, the filter on the other hand is. I've never seen one in this pristine condition with all its components, instructions, and original box. I've only ever seen one other and it was just the tank. The tank looks like a tall narrow Metaframe with metal hangers built in to hang it on the back of the tank. The instructions talk about some type of crystals that were part of the filter material as well as charcoal and "angel hair" which was fiberglass. The air pump was hooked up to a small plastic tube that went to the bottom of the riser tube. It would've had large bubbles but there's mention of using an airstone in the instructions which wasn't included with the filter. I'm amazed that the plastic tubes survived all this time as well as the rubber bulb which was used to start the siphon.
I've included photos of the filter, instructions, and air pump as well as the page from my Jewel catalog. I have the filter set up per the instructions except not hanging on an aquarium or having any airline attached.
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Last edited by davrx; 09-25-2020 at 05:33 AM. Reason: Water Pump
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2020, 04:14 PM
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That is soooo cool! You find the most interesting old and original aquarium equipment and tanks.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2020, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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That is soooo cool! You find the most interesting old and original aquarium equipment and tanks.
Thanks, I waste/spend a lot of time on the internet searching for these things and know most of the other antique aquarium collectors out there so that helps.
I'm anxiously awaiting a book by fellow collector Gary Bagnall, President/CEO of Zoo Med Laboratories, on this subject. He most likely has the world's largest collection of antique aquariums/terrariums and associated equipment.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2020, 10:46 PM
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Great find. Those old piston pumps can put out some pressure.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2020, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Great find. Those old piston pumps can put out some pressure.
Thanks, haven't hooked it up to an airline yet to find out.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2020, 02:56 AM
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wow, thanks for posting this! what a nice piece of history. this was the time when filters were solely air powered right? I can't imagine the water flow to be that fast.

I love how the marketing material disdainfully referred to their competitors as "cheaply made toys."

I also read through those instructions and noticed they had instructions on "purifying" the carbon. Pretty cool to see the line of thinking at the time.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2020, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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wow, thanks for posting this! what a nice piece of history. this was the time when filters were solely air powered right? I can't imagine the water flow to be that fast.

I love how the marketing material disdainfully referred to their competitors as "cheaply made toys."

I also read through those instructions and noticed they had instructions on "purifying" the carbon. Pretty cool to see the line of thinking at the time.
Yea, the "purification" of the carbon was using salt to kill the bacteria. Interesting that they would think that bacteria in a filter was something bad. Also, funny you should ask that, as the gentleman that sold me the Jewel (Marco) external filter and Marco Model A also sold me a very rare Marco water pump from the same time period. So air was not the only way filters were powered back then. He said he'd only ever seen two others and one to them may be the one Gary Bagnall sent me a photo of. He said he's never seen an ad for one and he would know, he has pretty much all the magazines from back then. His looks like it's new old stock, mine is filthy, but other than that his looks exactly like mine. I just dismantled it a couple of days ago to thoroughly clean nearly a century worth of grime off of it. Unfortunately the rubber diaphragms, various rubber washers, and one way flapper valves had petrified or turned to dust when I removed them. I'm hopeful that either I can still find parts that will fit this or modify parts to make it functional again. At this point it's a mystery as to what filter it would have been used with or what else it would have been used for but I'm certain it was used with aquariums. Also there's a good possibility that this was the first electric water pump for aquarium use. Gary's looking into this for me and said he'd get back to me. Here's some photos of it:
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Last edited by davrx; 09-25-2020 at 05:40 AM. Reason: Marco Water Pump
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2020, 01:10 PM
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Hmm.. wow. too bad you can't 3d print rubber, but perhaps it might still come in handy for printing an adapter for what's available today with with what you have.


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2020, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm.. wow. too bad you can't 3d print rubber, but perhaps it might still come in handy for printing an adapter for what's available today with with what you have.
I'm hoping I can find something that will work off the shelf. I'm pretty sure I can find the correct O-rings and I'm hopeful that I can adapt an air pump diaphragm to work with this. The flutter valves, if that's what they're called, may be a different story but I also may be able to again adapt some from an air pump.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-04-2020, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Cleaned Up Water Pump

I finished up dismantling the water pump and cleaned all the parts with brake clean to remove the almost a century worth of dirt and grime off of it. I have it partially reassembled, here's some photos I just took. I think it looks a heck of a lot better than it did when I bought it.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-05-2020, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Water Pump dates from 1934 or 1935

Gary Bagnall said he found an advertisement for this water pump in "The Home Aquarium Bulletin" December 1935 issue. Marco's patent on the electric motor for his air pumps and this water pump, #1,977,730, was issued 10/23/34.
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Last edited by davrx; 10-05-2020 at 01:54 AM. Reason: edit
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-06-2020, 05:37 AM
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I'm no expert on 3D printing, but TPU is said to be "rubber-like," and comes in a range of shore hardness.

Given the age, perhaps the parts are not that sophisticated, and could be made from something as simple as inner tube material.
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