Letters and Miscellanies

Stewart in the U.S.

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My friend Eldred Johnstone sent me an article called "Sheep Shearing Stewart" from the December 1989 issue of GEM about a Stewart engine. It is online at www.gasenginemagazine.com/complete-archive/2788/

I am a little confused as to which engine Robert Hall (in the article) has, a2HP Type KA open crank, serial no. KA167208, made in 1925 or a Type TB enclosed crankcase, serial no. TB255294, made in 1938. The photos were not very clear, but they look like the Cooper Ideal sold in Australia first using the 1 HP Type V from around 1920, then the Type KA from 1925 and finally the 2 HP Type TB until the early 1940s.

Stewart was the name used on Stover engines sold in the U.S. by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., which was the parent company of Cooper Engineering in Australia. Hence the Cooper plates on Stover engines sold in Australia.

The engine could not have been purchased from the Sunbeam Corp. in 1925, as CFS did not change the company name to Sunbeam until 1946. The Sunbeam division of CFS came into being in 1921 and made household products such as the Mixmaster. I think just about everyone's mum or wife has or had one.

In regard to the shearing gear, a vertical tube was bolted to the hopper that held a bracket arm that is an overhead shaft driven by a flat belt on one of the flywheels; this in turn drives the downtube (flexible shaft with gear joints) that the shearing handpiece is attached to. This type of shearing machine can still be found in Australia. I have two Cooper two-stand shearing machines, the oldest one with a 1929 Copper Type TC 3 HP enclosed crankcase engine. I also have a single stand Cooper Small Flock powered by a Cooper-made Johnson 1 HP Type X500 Iron Horse engine. These all use bracket arms that first came on the market in 1905 on the Stewart Little Wonder that changed very little until they went out of production in Australia in the early 1960s.

I have done some research into the introduction of shearing machinery in the U.S. and now have a reasonable knowledge of this subject. Eldred and myself have had very little success in finding anyone interested in this subject in the U.S., hence our interest in the information on the website. I wonder if there is any interest in this type of machinery in the U.S. If so, we should be able to help readers with information.

Ron Wiley
Australia
ronwiley@iinet.net.au