Letters and Miscellanies

Australian-Built Stovers

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To Ron Wiley:

I enjoyed the article about Cooper-Stovers (Gas Engine Magazine, June 2005 issue). It was quite interesting and well done.

I'm writing to give you a little background on the Stover records. A fellow named Lester Roos (deceased) had acquired most of the Stover engine records sometime after Stover went out of business. He had the records for many years and provided much information to C.H. Wendel for his books. Lester worked with the manufacturing and shipping records to establish the serial number list we all use today.

There are actually at least three types of records that I'm aware of. A set of manufacturing records, a set of shipping records and a set of build or specification records. I believe C.H. Wendel still has the manufacturing records. The shipping records were donated to the Stephenson County Antique Engine Club (Freeport, Ill.) by Lester Roos and Chris Johnson (deceased). I have the build or specification records starting from 1929.

Basically, the three sets of records provided different information. The manufacturing records provided actual build dates and testing information by serial number. We don't know the years covered by the manufacturing records. The shipping records provide dates shipped and where shipped by serial number. These records run from 1902 until the end of production. Some of the engines appear to have been in inventory for several months, if not years, before being shipped. The build sheets provide the actual engine specifications for both Stover standard CT engines and all the special modifications for Stover customers. These are sheets defining the changes made by Stover for each custom customer. Hence the sheet you have defining changes made for Cooper, i.e., different flywheels and chiseling off the "Made in USA."

So, a person can find out when and where their Stover was shipped by using their engine's serial number and the shipping records. I repeat: The shipping dates don't always match the manufacturing dates - that's why it took Lester Roos a long time to establish the serial number chart we use today. A person can find out what changes Stover made to their standard engines for a particular company by using the specification records. One of the most interesting is the changes made for the Sears Economy engine.

We do not currently have access to the manufacturing records, but consider ourselves lucky to have access to the other two sets of records. There may be other records out there that we are not aware of.

I live 10 miles from the original Stover factory. I have a very early 1903 Stover upright, serial no. 974, which runs very well. At this time we think it is the oldest running Stover engine. But you know how that goes. Of interest to you may be a Stover KE I own, #KE187805, that has a Stewart (Chicago Flexible Shaft Co. 1-1/2 HP, 600 RPM) engine tag and no Stover tag. It's a nice running little engine. Due to the close proximity to the Stover factory, there are still many Stover engines in this area.

Joe Maurer
Pearl City, Ill.

Editor's note: Interestingly enough, another Stover has come to our attention that is believed to be even older. See the feature "Trinity Treasure" on page 10.

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