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Square-Cylinder Quijada Engine Update

engine decal
A drawing by Tyler Daniels showing the general design of the Quijada engine decal. The decal was green, yellow and white.

The December/January 2017 issue of GEM included a letter and photos from Al Matheson about a single-cylinder, air-cooled engine featuring a square cylinder. The only identifiers, “Quijada” and “Los Angeles, California,” were cast into the rim of the magneto flywheel. Al has since received several notes from GEM readers, including from reader Tyler Daniels, whose great-uncle worked at the Quijada company. Tyler writes:

“The Quijada engines (pronounced we-sha-da) were built starting in 1936. Only 180 engines were made for the Westmoreland Glass Co. in Grapeville, Pennsylvania. What the engines were for is unknown. The engines were bought from Quijada Motor Mfg. Co., Inc. The engine in question is Type 125. I’ve seen photos of this engine, but I never thought I’d see it in a magazine. Each engine was slightly different. This engine looks to be missing the blower housing and decal. The engine runs on a 32:1 oil/fuel mixture. The decal is 2-3/4 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide. It is a circle with a triangle at top and bottom; one pointing up, the other down. The symbol stands for some spirit of Native American origin. This particular engine was built in 1939.

“In 1932, John Peetles and Robert Dalston founded the JP & RD Motor Mfg. Co. In 1933 the company was failing. With the death of Mr. Peetles’ grandfather, they renamed the company after Quijada, the goddess of life. Mr. Peetles’ grandfather left him a considerable sum of money, today’s equivalent of $800,000, which they used to open a new shop. In 1935 they came out with their first engine design, an upright 2-stroke, which they sold the design of to Maytag Co. In 1936, 120 engines were made, the first ones with the Quijada name on them. In 1940 the company was once again in trouble. They tried many different engine designs. Each design only had about 20 made before disappearing forever. Nothing worked, so in 1946 the company was sold to Jacobson. It was secretly sold so the original owners were not embarrassed. For some reason history forgot, there is no proof that this engine, its makers or the two friends ever existed. Mr. Peetles died in 1951, and Mr. Dalston in 1959. This was the end of the Quijada!

“My great-grandfather worked at the Westmoreland Glass factory. His was the office assistant manager, and it is from him that I learned about these engines. The engine’s original color is slate blue/gray, the decal was green, yellow and white. The parts it is connected to (spring/yoke) are not original to this engine. It was designed to bolt onto something like a shock-absorbing leather pad on a platform. The square cooling fins were designed so there was more ‘fin’ for cooling. Not a great design. Do not bother looking for the type number, as none of the engines built by Quijada had them on them. However, if you remove the flywheel, on either the inside top or side you should find this engine’s old model number. I believe that the serial number is on the flywheel, as well. My great-uncle Thomas worked at the Quijada Motor Mfg. Co. He was a machinist there. I enjoy talking about the Quijada, the last to remember! By the way, that doesn't look to be the right fuel tank. The original was made of stainless steel, painted white. This tank is the same shape, though. The gas cap should have three vent hoods on it, as well. The exhaust outlet should be round, not rectangle.”

Tyler Daniels


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