How Your Hobby Started PART XVI

Gas Tractor

Courtesy of Belvina W. Bertino, Culbertson, Montana 59218.

Belvina W. Bertino

Content Tools

390447th Avenue, S., Seattle, Washington 98118

The sad news of the demise of Rev. Elmer L. Ritzman, comes to me in a letter from Anna Mae, as I was starting to write this installment. Living as we did, on opposite shores of our country, I never had the pleasure of knowing the editor of The Gas Engine Magazine personally. From the beginning when he said--'Well we made it'--you feel the sort of emotion you would enjoy when a friend comes for a visit. And you gasoline engine collectors will agree I am sure, when a new issue of G.E.M. arrives at your home, it is like a visit of a friend of your hobby bringing more good information regarding the pleasure you enjoy together with a lot of interesting reading.

Having succeeded in his chosen lite-time work, Elmer undoubtedly had a very deep desire to broaden the scope of his hobby for early steam farm power by including the small gasoline engine that took care of every day chores when the fires were out and boilers cold on the big threshing engines.

His intentions have been well publicized. The engineering details of so many makes of gasoline engines have come to light in the columns of his magazine, making it possible to write a history of a topic few other writers have accomplished. Much has been written and many books published about the automobile, but had it not been for the inventors who created the first internal combustion engines, we still would be riding bicycles and getting much exercise in walking.

Aside from all the complicated detail of the engineering of our subject, your editor brought a more fundamental principle to the front in both his steam and gasoline engine magazines. This is the close friendly feeling of good honest people getting together to enjoy their hobby at reunions . . . Helping one another with the dissemination of knowledge concerning this or that tractor or finding a missing part for an old rusty gasoline engine that their friend is restoring and adding to the historical collection of more antique makes of engines.

Many of our customs are changing. Some are passing out of existence for lack of interest, but here in this hobby the interest in these antiques parallels the popular enthusiasm found today in the pursuit of collecting most anything collectable. 'Gas-Ups'--Reunions--Gas Engine Meetings--Old-time Equipment Shows and Museums are spreading all across our country and the 'putt-putts' are heard more and more.

From the collection of Hartzell Cope of Cadiz, Ohio, I am indebted for the literature on the New Holland Gasoline Engine to give you the following history of this manufacturer.

Not only does Hartzell have a good library of engine literature, but he also has in his engine collection of all sizes of the New Holland ratings from ? to 5 HP.

A popular make of engine which has had much publicity in G.E.M. and a favorite of all collectors of this hobby was the Pennsylvania made line of New Holland engines. Possibly because of the origin of these engines in a town by the same name, and the fact that in 1895, A. M. Zimmerman started in the general repair business at this location, these engines were named for the town. It has been a lasting tribute and a fine civic gesture that such a dependable engine should represent this community.

Being an agricultural district, Mr. Zimmerman, aside from repairing farm machinery started building sandstone grain grinding mills. The first unit was a 12 inch mill that was operated by a horse sweep power. During the three years the business grew and larger sandstone mills were built and sold.

About 1899 the company was repairing gasoline engines for their customers and selling the Columbus line of engines. This was an engine by this name manufactured by the Columbus Machine Company of Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Zimmerman became well versed in the operation of these early engines and during the next year the company expanded by building windmills and corn grinders. Their early experience with sandstone grain mills opened a new market and a demand for this type of farm machinery. Further experiments with burr type feed mills and developments in feed and grain handling and sacking attachments improved their business to such an extent that in 1903 the company was incorporated for $50,000. Stock was sold to finance the cost of building new factories.

By this time they had also designed and experimented with gasoline engines. In fact, in 1901 they had built their first engine and shortly afterwards had placed it on the market along with such items as pump jacks and many types of feed mills.

The company with Mr. Zimmerman as President and General Manager, Paul B. Hess, Secretary and Treasurer, with directors Eli M. Marten, E. L. Sutton, David M. Wenger and H. K. Landis, continued for the next decade adding more sizes of engines and feed grinders to their line of equipment.

This threshing scene was the 'real stuff' in the early days as may be judged from the horse-drawn grain wagon and immense strawpile. The separator, however, is no longer powered by a steam engine but by the latest, at that time (the 1920's), in gas tractors. Such scenes, which bring back happy memories to many oldtimers, are duplicated each year at the Culbertson, Mont., Threshing Bee, to be held Sept. 25-26 this year.

Photo cutlines - This 1910 or 1912 20-40 Case, Serial No. 541, is 'on loan' to the Northeastern Montana Threshers and Antiques Association from Mrs. Anna Nyquist of Glasgow, Mont. Completely dismantled, the Threshers hope to have it fully restored in time to see action in the annual Threshing Bee and Antique Show Sept. 25-26, 1971, at Culbertson, Mont.

In 1906 they made a contract with Fairbanks Morse and Company of Chicago, Illinois to sell their feed grinders. This was a successful agreement for both companies and the New Holland feed grinders were built in large quantities to meet the sales demand.

In 1910 the company completed their design of a 5 HP gasoline engine which completed their range of sizes. The originality of the design of the New Holland gasoline engines stood the test of time for over a quarter of a century. Their outstanding features were designed after years of knowledge of the working mechanisms of many different makes in the repair shop of A. M. Zimmerman from 1890 to 1901. He tried to improve on the mechanical features of competitive makes by building the New Holland engines with as few parts as possible and simplified the adjustments and operation.

These pictures are of a vertical Sandwich engine. It has 2 hp. at 700 rpm. and was patented in 1926. The gas tank, carburetor and manifold and the ignition system are not original as they were missing when we acquired the engine. On the end of crankshaft opposite the flywheel that does not extend out of the crankcase, there is a pitman or crank and 4 holes where something possibly a vacuum pump has been mounted. We would like to know for sure -- and also anything else about this engine.

We also have an engine with approximately 25? inch flywheels that has Gray Motor Company of Detroit cast in the side of the water hopper with the governor weights missing. We sure need a picture showing just what is gone.

The lever action on the valve and igniter mechanism was operated from a cam on the timing gear. The governor control lever mounted on the side of the crankcase cover, operated a visible speed indicater pointer which also was part of the governor setting on the later models. The air intake throttling lever on the right side of the engine was built into the fuel system. The simple mixing valve was set so the suction was in the main fuel tank under the cast iron engine base. The filling cap of the fuel tank is mounted in front on the lower sub-base of the engine. One of the main selling features of these engines was the design of the water hopper cobling system. Having originated in a country where engines were required to operate in cold winter weather, Mr. Zimmerman wanted an engine with a frost proof cooling arrangement, one that could freeze without doing damage to the engine. The distinguishing feature of these engines is the outline of the wide flared water hopper. From their looks, they can be picked out of any number of makes once you are familiar with the general appearance of the New Holland. It is this wide expanse of space in the water hopper that permits the cooling water to freeze without doing damage to the engine.

The engines were of the four cycle horizontal single cylinder, open crank-case design, with vertical valves, which operated by a push rod off the lever action. It was necessary to remove plugs inside the water hopper to take out the valves. The igniter was also placed in an odd location, as well as the valves.

Standard equipment with the engine consisted of dry cells, coil and igniter. A magneto could be supplied at extra cost. One of the choice engines for collectors is the small ? HP New Holland engine.

Very few companies built a horizontal stationary this small.

The specifications covering the New Holland engines are as follows:


The New Holland Company has continued in business and today it is a part of Sperry Rand Corporation. This company has an interesting background. In 1873 Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee had E. Remington and Sons build his invention of the typewriter. In 1913 this company became the Remington Typewriter Company. Sperry Corporation incorporated with Remington Rand Corporation in 1955.

Previously Sperry Corporation purchased the New Holland Company, the Sperry Navigation Equipment Company, Univac data processing Company, Vick-us Hydraulic Company and Remington Rand Office Equipment Company. This is how the New Holland Company is continuing in business.

One of our Pacific Northwest gasoline engine collectors, Carl O. H. Neitzel of Rt. 5, Box 244, Port Orchard, Washington has furnished me with a No. 61 catalog of the Challenge Company of Ba-tavia, Illinois on the Challenge Gasoline Engines and to whom I am indebted for the information for this make of engine.

The Challenge Company started in -business in 1870. Their first products were windmills, windmill towers, pump jacks, deep well pump heads and feed grinders. About 1898 the first Challenge gasoline engines appeared on the market, and they found good acceptance to operate pumps as stand-by power to their windmills.

This picture of this A gas tractor was taken before 1910. It is the first gas tractor I ever saw. It was used for baling hay. This scene was taken on the W. K. Snider farm, about 3 or 4 miles north of Somerset, Ohio. The man at the steering wheel was Mr. Owen H. Mechling, also owner of the tractor. The other man was his son, Luke B. Mechling. The man seated on the baler was Thurman B. Smith of Somerset, Ohio; my brother. The other men were Ivan Mechling and Mr. Lafe Swinehaft. All are deceased.

Owen H. Mechling and his son, Luke, were great gas engine men. They ran this baler with a screen cooled International Portable Engine before using this tractor. Luke Mechling was the first man I ever saw plow with a tractor, using a Titan 10-20 and a three gang plow in 1919. They later had an Advance Rumely 12-20 in about 1924, although I never saw them run it, but saw it in a shed, with a Moline Universal tractor. They last had an Allis-Chalmers. W. C. Luke B. Mechling still had this at his death. Owen had one of the first Delco plants here in town in about 1917. The baler was a Steel King.

The history of this tractor may be found on pages 155 and 156 in the book, 'The Century of the Reaper' by Cyrus McCormick and published in 1931.

These engines were built in sizes from 1? HP to 16 HP in the conventional horizontal style, single cylinder four cycle. Hopper cooled units in ratings of 1?-2-4-6-8-10 and 12 HP and closed cylinder cooling in 8-10-12 and 16 HP.

The cast iron base of the engine carried the main bearing shells and the timing gear. The crankshafts were forged from a solid billet and turned and finished by a special machine. Babbit bearings were used which were replaceable in the cast-iron shells. The connecting rods for 1? to 6 HP were of the 'I' beam type of cast steel with bronze bearings. The rods of the 8 and 10 HP were made of forged steel with bronze bearings. The wrist pins were keyed to the rod and the bronze bearings in the piston were designed so as to permit adjustment with the piston in place. On the larger size engines the connecting rod bearings were separate from the rod and the bronze could be taken up to cover any wear.

Cylinders were cast separately and the head was water-cooled. The suction valve was in the head. Being a hit and miss governed engine, provision was made to hold the intake valve closed, while the exhaust valve, being located on the side of the cylinder was held open on the stroke that did not produce power. The igniter was operated from the valve push rod and located at the side of the cylinder near the head. The governor weights on the 1? to 6 HP were pivoted on the flywheel, while on the larger models the fly ball governor was used. Operating speed could be varied from 300 to 600 RPM.

The smaller units took the fuel from the tank by suction into the mixing valve which was a simple fitting with an air intake and a needle on the fuel entry to control the amount of fuel as required. A pointer also was used to show the proper opening for the needle valve. A clean-out was provided at the bottom of the mixing valve. A fuel pump was used to deliver the fuel to the mixing valve on the larger size engines. It was also provided with a hand lever to pump a prime for starting the engine. Battery ignition with a coil is used and Columbia multiple waterproof batteries were supplied as standard equipment. Wizard magnetos could be supplied at an extra cost.

There were different types of power units available, such as portable engines on hand trucks and horse drawn steel trucks on which the larger engines were made portable.

Smaller engine sizes from 4 to 6 HP were on hand trucks while the sizes from 8-10-12 and 16 HP were on the horse drawn trucks. The 8 and 10 HP had hopper cooling, while the 12 and 16 HP were closed cylinder construction which used a circulating water pump through a cooling water tank. Special types of carburetors were used when gas was used for fuel, and another type mixing valve for burning alcohol.

Some of the distinguishing features of these Challenge engines were a rather high reatangular water hopper with a filling flanged opening. There was a cover over the crankcase for safety and a hand fuel pump at the crank end of the engine.

The Challenge trademark was quite significant of the Company's name. It was in the shape of a plaque with a picture of an ancient warrior in a coat of armor with a shield and a drawn sword over his head and the word 'Challenge' across the lower part of the scene. This was on the side of the water hopper on the engine.

The specifications of the Challenge Gasoline Engines were as follows:


During May we enjoyed a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claude Knudson and their son, Forrest, at our home in Seattle. Claude has a very large and interesting collection of engines of some 200 different makes at their home in Gully, Minnesota. He has such rare types as the 6 cycle air-cooled Litchfield and a very early model of the upright Hart-Parr and also a Scheichner-Schumm horizontal engine.

Claude has loaned me some of his fine engine catalogs which is much appreciated so that I might give you a report on the Ottawa Engines, made in Ottawa, Kansas. Very few engine manufacturers were locatedin this state.

This company was founded in 1904 with George E. Long as President and Manager. S. F. Barnes was Secretary and W. P. Kapp, Treasurer, E. E. Watts, assistant to Mr. Long and Alvie Hudson factory manager. John Blume was foundry production manager. The company was well financed and made very liberal guarantee of ten years on their engines and they were sold direct from the factory to the customer on a three months trial basis. If the engine was not entirely satisfactory, they would refund the purchase price and take it back. They built 15 sizes of engines in over one hundred different styles.

The Ottawa was a sturdy engine with heavy flywheels, built on a cast iron sub-base with separate crank base casting to which the cylinder was bolted. They were a very simple engine as far as parts were concerned. Horizontal four cycle, single cylinder open crankcase with flywheel hit and miss governor. A governor sleeve was fitted to the crank-shaft to operate the cam mechanism which controlled the push rod to hold open the suction valve and trip the igniter. There was a protective hood over the crankshaft to give safety protection and prevent oil being thrown from the crankshaft.

I have been given an old garden tractor which I would like to restore. I read your magazine, but I don't subscribe to it yet. A friend of mine gives his to me to to read. Since I couldn't find any information on my own about the tractor, I thought that maybe some of your readers might be able to help me. The company who made my tractor is the Beeman Tractor Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I wrote down information so that it might help anyone who may have some more data on it. It is a one cylinder, about a 2 hp. 3?' bore and 5?' stroke, water-cooled head; Eiscmann mag. type GS 1 edit. 2; brass carburetor; brass priming cup; radiator is gone; 3 prong cultivator which belongs to it; double 14' flywheels located in the center of two 26' drive wheels.

The patent dates are U.S.A.-Oct. 30, 1917; Dec. 24, 1918; June 17, 1919; Dec. 9, 1919. England, 115690. Canada-Oct. 30, 1917 and July 29, 1919.

Any information on the above picture will be greatly appreciated.

(I am one of the younger interested gas fans -- 17 years old.)

The engines were hopper cooled with a water cooled head. The intake and exhaust valves were located in the head. The main bearings in the crankshaft were offset below the center line of the piston providing a long power stroke and a short return stroke.

The engines could be supplied with either a hit and miss governor which was standard, or a throttling governor. A choice of Webster oscillating magneto type of ignition could be furnished to operate the igniter. There was also a jump spark ignition system of high tension coil and spark plug that was available. The company recommended the igniter instead of a spark plug because they claimed the spark plug in those days was not very dependable.

For cold weather operation there was a 1? and 2 HP air-cooled engine for small power units to pump water and do other small chores.

Geo. E. Long, Pres., who designed and built these engines sold them direct as he liked to have direct contact with his customers. The success of their sales program gave the user confidence in the company and their long guarantee on the engine. The mixing valve was arranged on the top of a positive feed fuel supply at the head of the engine, and it was located over the exhaust muffler. A simple fuel pump maintained the proper fuel level at the mixing valve. There was also a duel carburetor to permit these engines to be started on gasoline and then changed over after the engine came up to operating temperature, to the use of kerosene for continuous operation.

Ottawa engines were painted a dark maroon red on the major parts of the cylinder, base, hopper and flywheels. The crankshaft cover, connecting rod and crankshaft were painted deep green, as well as the mixing valve and exhaust silencer. A decal was on the side of the water hopper in an oblong design with the name 'The Ottawa' across the top of the design and under it was Ottawa, Kansas.

The catalog was very colorful and complete, as it was the only contact the company had with their prospective customers. Not only did they give complete engine specifications, but also delivery time to all parts of the nation and the freight costs, so their prospects could figure the overall price at destination. Time payment purchased plan was offered with one half down payment with the order and the balance extended over one year.

Ottawa Gasoline Engine Specifications:


To analyze the above ratings, it would seem that some of the units could have been combined under one rating and still have ample overload capacity to meet any demand for that size engine. Hand portable models were made in ratings of 1? HP A.C.; 2 HP A.C.; 2 HP; 2? HP; 3 HP; 4 HP and 5 HP. Horsedrawn portable engines were made in 5 HP, 6 HP, 7 HP, 10 HP, 12 HP, 16 HP and 22 HP. Saw rigs were made in sizes of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 HP.

From Broken Kettle Book Service, I have a copy of catalog C150 from which the following information on the New Way Gasoline Engine provides this report.

A snapshot of a Sieverkropp engine owned by Ed Sirovy of our town. It is the smallest water-cooled engine that I have seen. The connecting rod is on the outside of the piston. Does anyone know if these engines were made for some special purpose? It is so small that it must develop only a fraction of a horsepower.

I hope someone can give me some information on this small engine.

I subscribe to your magazine and enjoy it very much. I am restoring a Monitor upright pump engine at the present time.

In a small wooden building in Lansing, Michigan, the city that saw many 'firsts' in the stationary gasoline engine history, The New Way Motor Company started manufacturing air-cooled engines in 1905.

Undoubtedly, the design of these engines were much ahead of their time with such features as entirely closed crankcase, automatic splash lubrication, a successful air-cooled engine that could be operated in temperature extremes all over the world, and with a high tension ignition system using modern spark plugs. The cooling air arrangement was patented giving them exclusive rights in building this kind of an engine.

Both horizontal and vertical models were manufactured. The larger sizes employed an opposed horizontal cylinder arrangement.

The crankshaft main bearings were replaceable and the closed crankcase vented to prevent oil leakage. The gasoline tank was placed in the base so the fuel supply was by suction from the main tank and doing away with the necessity of a fuel pump on models.

Cylinders were of cast semi-steel and flanged mounted by bolting to the crankcase with a long apron extending into the crankcase for piston travel. Special radial cooling fins were around the cylinder with ventilating holes around the fins. Also there were tie rods running through the fins. The cylinder was partly covered by a metal housing to direct the cooling air from a belt driven fan which was driven by a round belt off the rim of the flywheel.

The valves were in valve cages and set in their respective valve openings in the cylinder wall. They were easily replaceable for maintenance. The exhaust valve was operated from a push rod from the cam inside the crankcase. The intake was automatic. The flyball governor was of the hit and miss type and on later types a throttling governor was used. Bosch and National high tension magnetos were used for ignition. Portable units on hand and horse drawn

trucks were offered and small engines and pump jack units were available. Engines were built in the following modifications: Horizontal units in 1-1?-2?-3? and 5 HP and sold under the trade name of 'Jewel' engines. The New Way standard was a 6? HP horizontal. The larger size of 8 and 12 HP were opposed cylinder horizontal machines with mixing valves at each cylinder head.

The New Way slogan was: 'Goes and Goes Right'.--

1928 Rumely Oil Pull on rubber, owned by E. J. Cornett, Leesburg, Virginia. Picture by Dave Egan, R. D. 5, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, at Berryville, Virginia 1971.

A 30-60 Aultman Taylor tractor 1917 model, in excellent condition. Used for belt work only. Gearing is not worn and motor is like new. This tractor has been driven in many parades since 1956.

The first tractor I owned was a 1912 Parret Gas tractor and since then I have owned many makes of tractors including a Huber light four, which was almost an exact replica of the Parret tractor. Now I only have the 30-60 A & T.


??2 & 5 eighth'x3?'400-600125
?23?' x 6'150-340450
56?5?' x 7?'250-500950


1?5001 & 5 sixteenth16275
24x54501 & 3 eighth20400
45? x 84001 & 7 eighth26850
66? x 83502321150
86? x 113002?422200
107? x 132802?483200
128?x 132503523400
169? x 152303?564400


1? A.C.1.83& 5 eighthx 3 & 7 eighth16550235
1? W.C.1.83& 5 eighth x 3 & 7 eighth16550235
2 A.C.2.83 & 7 eighth x 518500400
2 W.C.3.34x518500425
2?3.84? x 520500450
575 & 1 eighth x 928450985
812.16?X 10333601220
1014.47 x 8?344251590
1619.18? x 13443252980
2227.69? x 14502903890