How Your Hobby Started Part X

Half-horse electric motors

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.

Joe Fahnestock

Content Tools

3904 47th Ave. S., Seattle, Washington 98118

For those of us who recollect sitting around the old hard coal base burner thumbing thru the mail order catalogs on cold winter days, the pictures of steam and gasoline engines appeared on the pages of these famous utilitarian catalogs about the beginning of 1900. To the city lad, possibly the introduction of the gasoline engine did not cause much emotion, but for the men and boys on the farm it was an announcement with as much excitement as any of the present day magazines carrying the first pictures of some fine new sports car.

The catalog with the wide acclaim and broad distribution first carried the offering of the 'Kenwood' three horsepower gasoline engine in the Fall issue of Sears, Roebuck Catalog in 1902. This catalog page stated $98.50 buys the High Grade Full 3 horsepower Gasoline Engine, complete as described below, ready to operate, mounted on skids, crated and delivered free aboard cars at Chicago.'

The sales pitch further stated that -'The engine was a model of perfection and completeness. It is built on practical lines, combining simplicity, durability and compactness and developing the full amount of power we claim for it.'

Salesmanship was just as appealing in those days and possibly a little more emotional than today. They continued by saying 'This engine is made especially for us by engine makers who have been in the gasoline engine business for several years, consequently it is not an experiment but an up to dale engine, containing every improvement which years of practical experience suggests. It is not a lightweight plaything weighing only a few hundred pounds, but is a good substantial engine weighing 1,000 pounds and is suitable for running any kind of machinery which requires three horse or less. The base is a heavy east iron box weighing 250 pounds, is 4 feet long, 16 inches wide, 12 inches deep, divided and strengthened by partitions. In one end of this base is a compartment in which a 5 gallon galvanized steel gasoline tank is placed; the balance of the base serves as a water tank and holds 35 gallons. The base is covered with a heavy oak top, upon which the engine sets and is securely bolted to the iron base.'

Just inside the old country church vestibule on the sanctuary wall is Spark Plug Woody Turner's excellently-catalogued engine parts department. The bins are numbered for valves, rocker arms, compressions springs, carburetors, points and what-not. Woody might use the scales to the left to 'weigh' the parts. He didn't say what he gets out of that ancient well pump to the far right.

On this same catalog page is the complete detailed specifications of the cylinder of this vertical engine and the 'Hot Tube Igniter' of the crankshaft of this four cycle engine and the prices with various accessories such as an extra for the electric igniter, pump jack and mounting trucks to make the engine portable. About the engine, it states: 'The engine cylinder is five inches inside diameter and the piston makes a stroke of eight inches. Engine cylinder, engine head and valve are all surrounded by a large water space through which the water is forced all the time the engine is running. The crank or main shaft is 1 15/16 inches in diameter, made of forged steel nicely turned and finished and runs in extra long babbitt Ed bearings in which there is ample provision for oiling and for taking up wear. Connecting rod is made of crucible steel and has brass bearings at both ends. Hot Tube Igniter which is furnished with every engine, is placed directly over the inlet valve where fresh gases pass, insuring perfect combustion.'

It is interesting to note on the same catalog page with this original gasoline engine was a vertical steam boiler and steam engine combination mounted on cast iron sub-base in sizes from 1? to 15 hp. If a prospective customer had any doubts about the new gasoline engines, he could select a steam engine outfit for a very reasonable price of $98.40 for the 1? hp. to $248.00 for the 10 hp.

In the spring of 1903 the 'Improved Kenwood Gasoline or Gas Engines' were offered. The feature that was improved was the elimination of the heavy cast iron water-cooling tank. Instead, a vertical, circular water tank was mounted on a skid platform along with the engine. The hot tube ignition was eliminated for an electric make and break igniter operated from a push rod and the hit and miss governor. The fuel system was also changed with a small fuel reservoir mounted near the cylinder head. These engines were available in the following sizes in 1903.

CAT. NO.

HP.

R.P.M.

PULLEY SIZE IN.

SHIPPING WGT. LBSPRICE
32 x 500114506x4450$75.00
32 x 501024257x452095.00
32 x 502034007x4590112.25
32 x 5030437510x61050162.50
32 x 5040635014x72000215.00
32 x 5050830016x82300287.00

The catalog page on which these engines appeared also offered Sweep Power Outfits, Light Animal or Dog Power Tread Mills and Horse Tread Mills, as well as Steam Engines and Boilers.

Another interesting item offered on this page was a book by Jas. H. Stephen-sen on 'Farm Engines -- and How To Run Them.' It was about steam traction engines. It was illustrated and sold for 70 cents. Maybe some of these books are owned by the steam engine collectors.

The above gasoline engine models were sold for some years and then in 1906 they presented a new Kenwood horizontal model stationary engine in sizes of 4 hp. for $152.00 or 6 hp. for $209.00 and 8 hp. for $265.00. These were single cylinder, hopper-cooled with open crankcase, battery ignition and the igniter operated by the push rod that opened the mechanical exhaust valve.

The Spring Catalog of 1907 announced many new types of engines and allied equipment in this department. A little 1 hp. vertical combination engine and pump jack was an entirely new innovation. The engine was built around or as part of the worm gear driven pump jack. It had a crankshaft running thru lengthwise of the unit and with a transverse shaft to deliver take-off power at 180 degrees to the crankshaft of the engine and with a second drive pulley on the opposite side from where a pump jack was located. This made it possible to have a pulley on the flywheel end of the crankshaft and the auxiliary pulley, as well a pump jack drive.

In center church aisle where young marriageables marched to the tune of 'Here Comes The Bride,' there now sits Woody Turner's antique cider press, beautifully restored by Walter Baldauf. Old church upright piano is now just a handy place to set such things as old railroad lanterns and half-horse electric motors. An aura of old-time patriotism and country religion surrounds Spark Plug Woody Turner's collections.

This little vertical, single cylinder of the engine was located at the opposite end of the unit from the flywheel and the connecting rod bearing was in the open with the rod bearing on a bell-crank which was the end of the crankshaft. The engine had a rather short stroke and the upper portion of the cylinder was the water jacket and cooler. The gasoline tank was mounted on top of the cylinder. The exhaust valve was located in a transverse position thru the vertical cylinder and operated by a system of levers off the timing gear located next to the flywheel in the open by the governor. This very unusual engine was pictured in the catalog operating a washing machine, feed grinder and also a deep well pump. Of course, the unit would have to be located at the well in order to pump water, so it would be necessary to either do the washing by the well if it was to operate the washing machine, or move the unit into the house. In those days people were glad to have the engine power to do the chores, even if it was somewhat inconvenient. Then the price was only $55.45 for the complete pump jack unit and just $53.00 for the engine alone. So, it was possible to own several outfits for a very reasonable outlay of money.

Our readers can see a picture of this odd little 1 hp. engine pump jack combination in GEM Volume 2 -- Sept.-Oct. issue No. 5 for 1967. It was then owned by Ralph D. Mason of Kelso, Washington. Now it is owned by Thomas C. Graves of Tigard, Oregon, as part of his fine collection.

During the same year, another new engine was displayed by the name of 'The Howard Gasoline Engine.' Again, it was a very oddly designed outfit. It really might be placed in the category of the Victorian period, when parts of machines had that artistic design which today places any of them strictly in the class of antiques.

The Howard Gasoline Engine was a beauty. Being of this same era, it was really fancy. It was built on a cast iron sub-base somewhat resembling a low table, about twelve inches high with nicely designed cast iron legs. On this base which was about three feet long and fourteen inches wide was laid a crankshaft for a single cylinder vertical engine. The cylinder was at one end of the base while the flywheel and pulley were at the opposite end. In between was an elaborate cast iron stand on which the circular galvanized cooling tank was located. The rim of the flywheel was round in cross section. A belt pulley was located on the outer end of the crank next to the flywheel. The engine had a suction valve and exhaust valves in the head and a mixing valve near the cylinder head. A flyball governor was mounted on a high shaft long side of the engine cylinder. The extremely fancy engine unit produced 3 hp. and sold for $82.65 at Chicago.

Where the country preacher once pounded the pulpit on hell-fire and brimstone, Woody Turner now prints up Tri-State Show posters and letterheads. Hanging a bit askew on the wall, a benign portrait of Father George Washington smiles approvingly. Woody's patriotism is no doubt fired by his being named after President Woodrow Wilson. He fathered the League of Nations, but Woody fathers the 'League of Notions' when it comes to staging and planning his gas engine shows.

Further developments in the Kenwood line of engines, Sears offered in this same year a horizontal hopper cooled, single cylinder engine with a partially closed crankcase in a selection of sizes. The engines were equipped with electric igniters, hit and miss governors and they were mounted on wooden skids in the following ratings in 1907.

HP.BORE & STROKEFLYWHEEL DIA. IN.SHIPPING WEIGHTPRICE AT CHICAGO
2?5'x5'301090$95.00
4?6'x6'341295132.00
66?' x 8'381815179.00
97?' x 10'442465249.00
128?' x 12'503210332.00
159?' x 12'503700362.00

Another make of engine appeared in the 1907 catalog by the name of 'The Fulton Stationary Gasoline Engine.' This engine was of the conventional horizontal design, single cylinder, hopper cooled with open crankcase, electric make and break igniter with hit and miss governor. It came in sizes of 2?, 4?, 6, 9, 12 and 15 hp. These engines seemed to almost parallel the Kenwood units in ratings and duplicated much of the design.

Kenwood listed a complete line of wood sawing outfits with trucks to be horse drawn, and portable engine units complete on steel wheel trucks.

Also listed in the same year was the Kenwood four cycle one and two cylinder Marine engines in ratings of 1?, 3 and 5 hp. They were of the vertical water-cooled closed crankcase type with marine accessories such as a propeller shaft, water pump and battery ignition. The prices varied from $74.00 to $274. Two cycle marine engines were available in the Fulton marine engine in one and two cylinders rated at 2, 3, 5 and 10 hp. with the usual marine accessories at about the same range of prices.

With a departure from engines it was interesting to note that for the first time, Sears offered scales in the catalog this year. These scales were sold under the name of Atlas. They were a 600 lb. capacity portable platform scale as used in nearly all of the country stores and sold for $9.90. Today the same type would cost $150.00. Three, four or five ton wagon scales with an 8' x 14' platform sold for as little as $31.00 to $35.00.

The gasoline engine business was an important item to Sears, Roebuck and the sales volume determined the acceptance of their product in this market.

In 1906 the catalog company contracted with Charles A. Stickney Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, to build a certain number of their trade name engines known as the Kenwood, Howard and Universal. By the end of 1908 the number of units sold did not take the number called for in the contract between these two companies. The manufacturer was unable to build the volume of engines stated in their agreement. Sears claimed the engines would not sell and therefore cancelled the contract.

The Charles A. Stickney Company brought suit against Sears, Roebuck and Company for damages in the amount of money they would have made had they delivered the number of engines called for in the contract, and were awarded $10,000.00.

The Stickney Company claimed that Sears rerated the engines higher than they were designed, which caused trouble in carrying the load. Possibly, the situation caused Sears, Roebuck to build their own engines, as they described in their catalog.

Most all of the engine equipment was the same in 1908 Sears Catalog and in the spring of 1909 the 'Economy Gasoline Engine' first appeared in the machinery section. Many of the earlier makes were dropped from the catalog and the trade name of 'Economy Engines' carried the banner of Sears, Roebuck gasoline engines for many years.

In the old church choir loft, where once voices rang out the glory of the Lord, Woody Turner now tenders his loving care on reclaiming old gas engines to a new chug and purpose in life. Here Spark Plug Turner works on a McCormick-Deering Engine. Altogether he has about twenty-five old engines under restoration in old Antioch Methodist Church near Portland, Indiana.

At first they were offered in only two ratings as: 2 hp. - 4' bore x 6' stroke - 600 lbs. shipping weight and at 4 hp. - 4?' bore x 9' stroke - 800 lbs. shipping weight. These engines were rather simple in design. Single cylinder, horizontal hopper cooled machines with electric igniters, hit and miss governors and skid mounted. They carried a five year guarantee, which would indicate that Sears considered them to be a very reliable product.

In that year they brought out the 'Motorgo' marine engine rated at 3 hp. It had a copper water jacket and was complete with propeller, shaft and battery ignition for $46.85.

The 1912 catalog carried a big spread for the 'Economy Engine.' Sears was ready to launch a big advertising campaign to put the Economy engines into every available market. They advertised that the engines were built in their own factory at Sparta, Michigan. They stated that the engines were equal to any other engine on the market. You could buy one on a 60 day trial basis. The guarantee was backed by a big company, the prices were competitive, the engines were dependable and they were made in the following specifications:

HP.BORE & STROKER.P.M.SHIPPING WEIGHTPRICE ATCHICAGO
24'x6'450550$55.75
44?' x 9'40077593.95
65?' x 10'3751200128.60
86?' x l2'3501700196.20
107?' x 14'3002650289.60

Then in 1913 the same Economy engines were presented as above and more developments were made and offered in the 'Motorgo' marine engines, as follows:

HP.BORE & TROKER.P.M.CYLINDERSWEIGHTPRICE
2?3?' X 3?'7501100$47.60
44' x 4'750113064.40
63?' X 3?'7502160103.00
84' x 4'7502225132.00
124?' X 4?'7502330177.00

Ratings and specifications were again changed as developments took place and in 1915 the Economy Engines were as follows:

HPBORE & STROKER.P.M.SHIPPING WEIGHTPRICEAT CHICAGO
1?3?' x 5'550315$37.80
2?4' x 6'45066055.75
55' x 7?'42587595.60
75?' x 9'3751250128.60
96?' x 11'3251900223.50
127?'x 12'3002800308.60

These engines were equipped with battery ignition, hit and miss governors and an electric igniter. For a magneto, add $10.55 to the above price. For operation on kerosene, add $9.70.

It was in the year of 1915 Sears offered the first outboard marine engine called the 'Motorgo Row Boat Engine.' It was 1? hp. with 2 5/8' x 2Vi' bore and stroke at 850 r.p.m. At this speed it would turn a 9?' x 14' pitch propeller. It was a reversible engine and weighed 62 lbs. and sold for $43.00.

Then in 1917 the Economy engines remained about the same, but in addition they offered Electric Lighting Plants that could be operated by their engines. Generators, switchboards and batteries were available to set up various capacity units.

The marine market was expanding and more and more pleasure boats were being used for recreation. From the automobile engine manufacturers came the marine conversions to adapt the high speed gasoline engines for installation in all kinds of pleasure crafts.

In addition to the smaller inboard and outboard marine that Sears had previously had during 1917, they showed a 4 cylinder marine engine with 3?' x 4?' bore and stroke and complete marine conversion with clutch, water pump and magneto ignition, in variable speeds up to 1500 r.p.m. rated at 14 to 20 hp. and weighing 450 lbs. selling at $248.69.

It was in this same year that the 'Thermoil All-Kerosene, Distillate or Fuel Oil Engine' came on the market for sale. It was a single cylinder, horizontal, hopper cooled unit designed by R. M. Hvid, a Danish engineer. This was the first diesel type fuel injection engine that Sears sold. It was built in the following ratines:

HP.BORE & STROKER.P.M.SHIPPING WEIGHTPRICE
2?4'x6'500600$85.00
55' x 7?'450950124.00
75?' x 9'3751380171.00

By 1919 the stationary heavy duty slow speed gasoline engines were more improved and still at the same ratings. Prices had increased, but the engines were now well standardized and the Economy engines were sold by Sears stores all over the nation.

Contracting equipment, agricultural machinery and other industries were requiring more and more power driven equipment. The old heavy duty slow speed stationary type engines were too cumbersome and the acceleration was too slow to combine with these modern machines. It was necessary for mechanical engineers to turn to the automative type of gasoline engines to meet the new needs of lighter weights, smaller space per horsepower and speed variation.

At first, old car engines were used and modified by the user to meet his particular requirements. This change in events was noticeable first where the application of an old Packard, Pierce Arrow or Pope Hartford and other makes were used on wood saws, drag lines, rock crushers and in many other instances.

This type of engine was the forerunner of the modern gasoline engine power unit. There was a demand for small horsepower engines which was still another development taking place to fill the needs of the little 1?, 2 and 3 hp. heavy duty engines that were sold in greater quantities.

The outboard marine engines were becoming more popular and the Sears 'Motorgo' were developed in more ratings and presented in sizes of 2?, 4, 6 and 8hp. These were to be the popular type outboard engines of today and the

development was another interesting story of the great American engineering ingenuity.

Sears, Roebuck and Company played an important part in bringing to the power using public, gasoline engines from an early date and provided much to the development of this type of power as can be seen in the present day catalogs, which we are sorry to say cannot be ready by the base burner in modern homes.

One of Spark Plug Woody Turner's prize engines -- a 15 horsepower Foos Engine -- was too big and heavy to lug onto the church floor. Shown here it stands in his engine barns at home. Woody says when the engine arrived new at its destination, the double flywheels were broken unloading it on frozen ground. But another single flywheel was substituted, and it pumped oil at Pennville, Indiana for fifty years -- and it still has fine compression.

Spark Plug Woody Turner's best engines finally wind up on his big red fire truck for display at the big Tri-State Gas Engine and Antique Tractor shows at Portland, Indiana, fairgrounds during mid-August each year. Woody fidgets with a 5 hp. Bohon Engine made at Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Also shown is a Stickney Engine 3 hp., a Bull's Eye 2 hp. (sold by Montgomery Ward in 1917 - the year Woody was born during Woodrow Wilson's administration). A 1? hp. Engine made at Port Washington, Wisconsin, is also shown.