12-Horsepower Krueger-Atlas Engine at Texas A&M University

Krueger-Atlas engine

After restoration was complete, June 1993.

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Department of Agricultural Engineering College Station, Texas 77845

This beautifully restored 12 horsepower Krueger-Atlas gasoline engine belongs to the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. The engine was given to the Department in the early 1900s, and was used in the departmental engine laboratory until the late 1950s. The Krueger-Atlas engine was manufactured in San Antonio, Texas, by the San Antonio Machine and Supply Company, also known as SAMSCO.

The earliest known mention of this engine is found in the 1915 Catalog of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). The section of this catalog dealing with the Agricultural Engineering Department states, in part, that, 'The farm motors laboratory is equipped with twenty different types of stationary gas engines, including Gil-son, R. & V., and Krueger Atlas portable engines, seven different types of traction engines . . .'

In the early 1900s, the use of internal combustion engines on the farm was becoming a major emphasis in the curriculum for agricultural engineers at Texas A&M. These engines, with their open crankcases, were used to demonstrate the principles of operation of an internal combustion engine. The Krueger-Atlas engine was also equipped with a 'prony brake,' an early means of measuring horsepower. The testing of farm engines was, and still is, a major function of agricultural engineers.

Away from the college, this type or engine could have been used for several tasks. It was equipped with a clutch-pulley which facilitated connection to the load. Some typical jobs for this size engine would be to power a small sawmill, an irrigation pump, a feed grinder or a small light plant.

As more modern engine designs were developed, the Krueger-Atlas engine was gradually removed from service. By the late 1950s it was used for demonstrations only, and in 1968 it was given a thick coat of red paint and placed in a warehouse for storage.

The engine was mostly forgotten until the early 1980s, when Charles Reeves, a farmer and engine collector from Edmonson, Texas, heard about a Krueger-Atlas engine at Texas A&M and began a 10 year hunt to locate the lost prize. Charles made several trips to College Station trying to locate the engine, to no avail. Finally, in the fall of 1991, Charles got a good lead. He was referred to Henry O'Neal, a power and machinery specialist in the agricultural engineering department. Henry had no idea about any old engines, but he told Charles that if anyone would know about that type of stuff it would be Bill Aldred. Bill is in charge of the departmental inventory and has been a member of our staff since the early 1950s. Sure enough, when Charles called Bill Aldred, Bill knew right away what he was looking for. I would give anything to have been with Charles when they went to the warehouse and there sat the old engine.

Next came the fun part. There was no way for the university to give the engine to Charles. Likewise, the department did not want to put the engine up for public auction. Therefore, a Memorandum of Agreement was drawn up, giving Charles custody of the engine for a period of three years, to 'restore and display at events of historical significance.' In August of 1992, Charles came to College Station, loaded up the old Krueger, and took it to Edmonson for restoration.

One other interesting point bears mention. I am an agricultural engineer at Texas A&.M and have been involved in the restoration of a 1914 vintage cotton gin at Burton, a small town about 45 miles from College Station. Anyway, that is another story. Through my involvement at the gin, I have become keenly interested in old farm stuff.

One of the people I have gotten to know from this work is O.B. Maloy from Austin, Texas, an expert on Krueger-Atlas engines. Sometime about 1991, O.B. asked me if I knew anything about a Krueger-Atlas engine that had been given to Texas A&M back in the early part of the century. I assured him that there was 'no way that engine could still be around.' Little did I know that this rare engine was 'right in my back yard.'

During the summer of 1992, I got wind of the engine. In December of 1992 I was in Lubbock, so I went up to Edmonson to see Charles and discuss the restoration. That winter, Charles decided that he did not have the time to restore the engine, so he and I agreed to bring the Krueger back home to Texas A&M. On the evening of March 23, 1993, Charles and I loaded the engine on my trailer and I headed south. By 2:00 P.M. the next day, I was sitting in front of O.B. Maloy's house in Austin.

The engine was painted red and had been in storage since 1968. The entire engine, valve stems, igniter, fuel pump, etc. had been painted. After removing paint from a few critical parts, and with assistance from O.B. Maloy, the engine was started on March 24, 1993 for the first time in at least 25 years.

It is worthy to note the method of starting a Krueger-Atlas engine as described in the 1912 catalog: 'It is only necessary to turn the flywheel forward a half turn, drawing in a charge, then to pull the wheel back sharply against the compression, when the igniter will automatically trip and the engine will start immediately. It will do this, not occasionally, before the cylinder gets cold, but always. This feature will be greatly appreciated by those persons who have been annoyed and harassed in cranking hard starting engines.'

The first step in restoration was to build a set of skids to facilitate transportation. A water tank and gas tank were also fabricated and installed. This work was completed by mid-April of 1993, just in time for the Burton Cotton Gin Festival. We had a very fine engine show, this being the first year for an 'organized, official' show. The Festival is held the third weekend in April each year, when the wildflowers are beautiful and there is no snow anywhere within 400 miles. The big pecan trees make a wonderful shade for our engines. The 'theme' of next year's engine show will be Krueger-Atlas engines, so anyone that has a Krueger engine, we want to invite you to come on down.

On June 11, 1993 the engine was completely disassembled and the red paint was removed. Unfortunately, there was also a coat of orange paint, followed by the factory black. After removing all of the paint, the engine was primed and painted with black acrylic enamel, which gives it the high gloss appearance. During the disassembly, a new rocker arm was cast to replace the original, which had been broken and welded. The engine was reassembled and running on June 22, 1993, in time to make it to the Fredericksburg Show later that week. There were 10 Krueger-Atlas engines at this show and several people commented that, 'Krueger-Atlas engines sure are common, since it seems that everybody has one.' According to my count, there are only about 42 of these engines known to exist.

This engine is a living example of the heritage of agricultural engineers across the land. Today agricultural engineers specialize in crop processing, farm structures, soil and water conservation, and agricultural pollution control, as well as farm power and machinery.

Anyone interested in information about the Burton Gin Festival and Engine Show can contact me at 409-845-9796 or 409-693-9355. The 1994 Festival will be held April 15-17, 1994.

Some facts about this engine: engine type is horizontal cylinder, four-stroke cycle. The engine alone weighs 3,600 lbs., the complete rig 4,000 lbs. Fuel is gasoline. Bore and stroke, 7.25 x 12 inches; thermo-siphoned water cooling system; induction coil/igniter ignition system, flyball governor, and hit-and-miss speed control.