The Chapman Engine & Manufacturing Company, Ltd.

Content Tools

48 Beausejour Street, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada J8T-5V6

In August 1997, I acquired a 2 HP, Style 'A,' Canadian Chapman gasoline engine built in Dundas, Ontario. This engine is complete and everything is free on it. The farmer who sold me the engine told me that his father brought this Chapman home in the early forties, put it in one corner of the shed, where it was left undisturbed for over fifty years, just waiting for me to come around and get it. Unfortunately, nothing is known about this Chapman's prior working years.

The first thing I do before I start the restoration of an old engine, is to gather as much information as I can about the company that built the engine and about the engine itself. For more common engines like Fairbanks-Morse and IHC it is relatively easy to find old advertisement literature, instructions and parts manuals or books that describe them. It is a different story when you try to gather information on a small Canadian engine manufacturer from the turn of the century.

The first place I looked for information about the Chapman Engine & Manufacturing Company was in Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 book. From it, I learned that Chapman totally designed and built their engines in Canada. It said that the Chapman Style 'A' was built only in the 2 HP size, the Chapman Style 'B' was built in the 4 HP size and the Chapman Style 'C' were built in 6, 8, 10, 12, and 16 HP sizes. I personally know of two 7 HP Chapman engines, so I think that the 7 HP was re-rated to 8 HP in the later years of Chapman's engine production.

Another good source of information on any engine is the brass nameplate on the engine. On my Chapman, it said: Made by 'Chapman Engine & Manufacturing Company Limited,' Dundas, Ontario, Canada for the 'Ontario Wind Engine & Pump Company, Limited,' Toronto-Winnipeg-Calgary. The tag also shows that my Chapman is a 2 HP, Style 'A,' with a serial number 12177.

A few words about the Ontario Wind Engine & Pump Company (OWE & PCo.) would be in order here. OWE & PCo. never built any engines, but there are reports that they sold Stickney engines as early as 1910. I can also attest that they sold Nelson Bros, engines in the 1920s, as I own a 'Little Jumbo' that has an OWE & PCo. name-plate on it. Some people have reported to me that OWE & PCo. also sold some Goold, Shapley & Muir engines at one time. Around 1910, Mr. Stephen H. Chapman was the president of the Ontario Wind Engine & Pump Company Limited, and he soon became one of the owners of the Chapman Engine & Manufacturing Company of Dundas, Ontario thus the close relationship between the two companies.

It seems that the Chapman Engine & Manufacturing Company of Dundas, Ontario, started to build gasoline engines in the fall of 1911. During World War I (1914-1918) Chapman participated in the war effort by producing shells. Sometime in 1917, a huge fire destroyed most of Chapman's buildings. Chapman had already had some financial difficulties before, and the big fire only added to their misery. In 1918, Chapman had to sell their assets to liquidate their debts. That was the end of a fine Canadian builder of a fine engine the Chapman engine.

At engine shows, have you ever noticed how often somebody will come up to you and ask you the year your engine was built? If you have a common engine like a Fairbanks-Morse or an IHC, you have no problem in answering, as lists of serial numbers for each year an engine was built can be easily obtained. But if you have a rare engine, the years the engines were built and the total production figures always remain a mystery. In the case of Chapman engines, the mystery is about to be solved. So far, I was able to obtain the serial number, style and horsepower rating from nine Chapman engines of various sizes. I have noticed that the first two digits on a Chapman's serial number all start with one of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. This is only a theory for now, but it seems that the first two digits of a Chapman's serial number represent the year the engine was built and the remaining number could be the engine number. So far, the smallest number I found is on my engine with the serial number 12177, which could mean engine #177 was built in 1912. The highest serial number is 171579, which could mean engine #1579 built in 1917.

From this, it would appear that at least 1579 Chapman engines were built between 1912 and 1917. These figures would be consistent with the history of the Chapman Engine Manufacturing Company.

In order to further prove this theory about Chapman's production figures, I am asking all GEM subscribers who have a Chapman engine, and everyone else who knows where to find one, to send me the nametag information including the serial number, style and serial numbers. For those Chapman engines that have lost their nametag, the serial number can also be found stamped on the machined edge of the crankcase's hand-hole opening.

Please send the information about Chapman engines to: Denis Rouleau at the above address, or E-mail at: Thanks!