Recently we received a very interesting letter from Mr. J. Vegter, Hoofdweg 107, 9628 CM, Siddeburen, Holland. Mr. Vegter points out that many of the oil engines which use the so-called Hvid fuel system are really misnamed. To paraphrase Mr. Vegter, 'Mr. Jan Brons from Holland is the inventor of this fuel system, and he built engines with this system from 1904 to 1937. Later, Brons built other gas and diesel engines until Waukesha Engine Division took over the [Brons] factory on January 6, 1989.
'Brons received a German patent on his fuel system on April 19, 1904 under No. 167149. An improved system was patented in Germany under No. 190914 of April 2, 1906. The reason Brons got a German patent was that Holland did not have a patent system at that time.
'Jan Brons sold a license to the R. M. Hvid Company on January 1915. Already in 1909, Laurin & Klement A.G. of Austria had acquired manufacturing rights, followed by the sale of Danish rights in 1910 and Norwegian rights in 1912. Brons sold license rights to many other engine manufacturers, including Deutz at Cologne, Germany. The latter sold many Deutz Brons engines between 1907 and 1930. It also appears that Daihatsu Company of Japan acquired subsidiary rights from R.M. Hvid Company in 1922. The Brons factory built many different styles of this oil engine, including a marine model with air starting.'
Mr. Vegter writes that he worked at the Brons factory, and when Waukesha took over, he purchased all the old Brons office material, photos, hand-books, customer books, and a lot of spare parts. He indicates that he may even start a little museum about Brons.
We commend Mr. Vegter for his efforts in preserving much of the Brons material, and for shedding some light on the connection between Brons and the R.M. Hvid Company. We fully agree that perhaps Hvid has received far too much credit regarding the Brons system, since they (Hvid) were merely licensees of the Brons patents. We're not sure on this point, but perhaps there were some other legal issues involved that are now clouded by time.
For those unfamiliar with the Brons or Hvid system, depending on which term you prefer, there were a substantial number of these engines built in the United States. All are of the compression ignition type, and the best known is the Thermoil, built by Hercules and sold by Sears & Roebuck. These engines all have some common features. The so-called injector is really not an injector at all. It consists of a heavy steel block containing a small poppet valve. In most instances, the valve seat has a small hole drilled in its periphery. A long slender needle valve is seated above this tiny hole. It is controlled by the governor, and regulates the amount of fuel that can get through when the poppet valve opens. The fuel is deposited by gravity into a small cup below the poppet valve. It has two or three small holes toward its bottom, and these holes are aimed toward the piston head. On compression, the air temperature rises sufficiently within the cup to detonate the light parts of the fuel. The subsequent chain reaction forcibly drives the remaining fuel from the cup into the heated air and ignition continues.
Ignition timing in these engines can be changed only by altering the size of the holes in the combustion cup! This is why engines were usually shipped with several different cups to suit various fuels and temperature conditions. Another feature of most Hvid-style engines is a connecting rod construction that permits the addition or removal of shims between the rod and the crankshaft bearing. These shims place the piston head closer to, or farther from the cylinder head, depending on compression requirements for various fuels.
Under the right circumstance, the Hvid-style engines were very efficient and very reliable. However, the American market seemed far more content with a simple hit-and-miss gas engine. Farmers in particular seemed to have no inclination to learn all the idiosyncrasies of Hvid-style engines. Besides, it was fairly easy to overload one with fuel at starting time, and this could cause serious damage to the engine. Without maintaining compression up to its optimum level, these engines would not start or run well, unlike a hit-and-miss engine that would run after a fashion, even though half the compression blew past the rings.
Today, there are a fair number of Hvid-style engines left, although many of these are nowhere near in running order. The use of starting fluid on these engines is not recommended at all. If everything is up to par, they should start readily on kerosene or diesel fuel by simple hand cranking. This assumes an air temperature of 60 degrees or more.
Again, our thanks to Mr. Vegter for some enlightenment on this subject.
We previously failed to thank Joe McCosh of Dunlap, Illinois for sending us some photocopy material on the Fairbanks-Morse tractors. Back in 27/2/17 there was a query from South Africa regarding a 15-25 Fairbanks-Morse tractor. Joe and his family have one of these tractors, and he kindly forwarded his information to our correspondent from South Africa.
We begin this month with:
27/7/1 Witte Query Q. What is the year built for a Witte 6 HP engine, s/n 44168, and a 3 HP Witte, s/n B24266?Mike Sitton, Rt. 5, Box 221-A, Tylertown, MS 39667.
A. The 6 HP was built in 1919; the 3 HP was shipped to Stauffer-Eshelman Company, New Orleans, Louisiana on May 5, 1925.
27/2/2 Information Needed Q. I have three antique engines as follows: No. 2A is an IHC LB, s/n 1364603; No. 2B is a Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP, s/n 162620, 10-17-16; and No. 2C is an Olds No. 2, Type A engine, 3 HP shop no. G1191 from Seager Engine Works, Lansing, Michigan. I need information, manuals, and a few parts to maintain these engines in the original design. Pablo B. Martinez Pol, Orquidea Street KK-8, Alturas DE Bornquen Gardens, Rio Piedras, PR 00926.
A. It's nice to know we have some collectors in Puerto Rico. If you can be of help, kindly do so.
27/7/3 What is It? Q. See the two photos of an unidentified engine. It has no markings or serial number, not even part numbers. It has a 9 x12 inch bore and stroke. The flywheels are 52 inches in diameter with a 4-inch face. I also need some ideas on starting the engine. It has very high compression, and with the compression release open, it takes four good-sized men to turn it over. There must be an easier way!
In photo 3-A, the intake valve is at the very top, with the igniter right below. A three-ball brass governor is behind the flywheel, and there is a sight glass in the side of the carburetor to see the fuel level. Floyd Schmall, 5523 So. Peach, Fresno, CA 93725.
27/7/4 Stover Engine Q. See the photo of a 5 HP Stover engine, s/n TD249166SR. The engine starts on gasoline, and is switched over to kerosene when it gets warm. This engine is a dark red color. Can you provide any more information on this engine? Samuel Spencer III, 1285-A Lovett Road, Orange Park, FL32065.
A. Your engine was built in 1937. The 'SR' suffix on the serial number indicates that this engine was shipped to and sold by Sears 6k Roebuck Company. This also explains the red paint job, since those Stover engines sold by Sears were painted red. This engine is identical to the CT-4 Stover engine sold concurrently by Stover Engine Works.
27/7/5 Olds Engine Q. See the photo of an engine I have. It is an Olds Model 3, Type A, 4? HP model with Shop No. D2398. Built by Seager Engine Works, it is similar to one shown on page 359 of American Gas Engines. I would like to find any literature or other information regarding this engine. Will Keister, 6165 Contrerras Rd., Oxford, OH 45056.
A. The Olds engines have a distinctive appearance, and show up occasionally at the shows. If you can help Mr. Keister, please do so.
27/7/6 Unidentified Engine Q. I have an engine with the following nameplate information: Engine No. 227076; 425 RPM; 5E horsepower. The Webster bracket is 303K26. Any help will be appreciated. Kelly Heegard, 5031 Canosia Road, Saginaw, MN 55779.
A. The 'E' suffix on the horsepower indicates that this was an engine built by Hercules and sold by Sears-Roebuck as an Economy. Also, the Webster bracket is for Hercules/Economy engines.
27/7/7 Unidentified Steam Engine Q. See the two photos of an unidentified steam engine. It has no numbers, letters or names on the engine or on the boiler. However, the engine uses a Judson governor. Any help in identifying this engine will be appreciated. Tom Chicoine, 42 Whiteloaf Road, Southampton, MA 01073.
A. We've looked through a number of old things we have, and find nothing that remotely resembles this engine. The Judson governor is not enough to identify it, since this make was used on many different engines. In fact, it is our guess that the Judson is not original, unless it is a very early style, since this appears to be a very old engine.
27/7/8 Independent Harvester Company Thanks to Dale Russell, 6033 N. Richmond, Wichita, KS 67204 for sending along some information on the above company. This firm was organized December 27,1904 at Piano, Illinois by W. C. Thompson and E. M. Kellogg. The latter had invented a corn harvester, and Thompson supplied the financing. Eventually the product line included a wide range of implements, including gasoline engines.
27/7/9 Unidentified Engine Q. Can anyone provide any information on the engine in the photo? It is one-cylinder of possibly 6 to 8 horsepower. There is no name cast into any part, but the number 251271 is stamped on the right side of the block. The flywheel, magneto, and some other parts have been cast with a number beginning with a '1' followed by an A, B, or C, followed by 1830. The original color seems to be similar to Allis-Chalmers red, applied to bare metal with a good bond. It has been covered with a coat of dark green which I don't think was done in the factory because of the lack of bonding. Above the flywheel has been cast a COW or CWO if you read it as a monogram. Any help will be appreciated. Richard D. Leggee, 16 Phyllis Road, Foxboro, MA02035-1516.
A. Can anyone be of help on this engine?
27/7/10 Massey-Harris 22GR Q. I have a 1948 model Massey-Harris 22GR with a narrow front end. I would like to convert it to a wide front, and from what I have read, it was available either way. Thus far I have searched coast-to-coast for a wide-front, but with no luck. My question is: What M-H models will fit my tractor, and what do I need to modify in the steering, idler arm and bracket to make it fit? Are there any clubs or organizations for Massey-Harris tractors and equipment? Colin Morris, RR 1, Box 1489, Salisbury, NH 03268.
A. Would the Massey-Harris collectors be able to respond?
27/7/11 Unidentified Engine Q. See the three photos of an unidentified engine. It is a hit-and-miss style of about 5 horsepower. The nameplate is missing. Any help in identifying this engine will be appreciated. Mr. G. Diegens, 119 Centre Drive, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8AP England.
A. A great number of American engines ended up in Europe, especially in England. Can you be of help to Mr. Diegens?
27/7/12 Nelson EngineByard Heiken, RR 3, Atlantic, IA 50022 writes: 'I am very interested in the Nelson engine made at Harlan, Iowa. At the nearby town of Brayton, a man by the name of Tony Juhl had a Nelson in his shop. He came home from World War One in 1918 and bought this engine used from a local farmer. Tony had a machine shop, and ran it with this engine up until 1982 or 1983, using the engine nearly every day. He never had electricity in his shop or a telephone. When he overhauled this engine, he came out and used my lathe to make a set of rings, and commented that he liked the way you could just start and stop the lathe with a switch.
'Mr. Juhl is gone now; he was buried in a new pair of bib overalls, just like he always wore.'