Stover catalogs show history, development and versatility


Stover motor launches also from the?Buenos Aires catalog. We don’t know if Stover had anything to do with these boats. The big launch is 60 feet long.

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Stover catalogs can be used as a valuable tool to study Stover engine development. The early catalogs show the basic engine design while later catalogs describe the many uses of the engines. A study of the catalogs reveals both technical development and the progression of engine application. The foreign catalogs not only show the products, but they tell us about the world markets that Stover sold to. The following is not a definitive history of Stover, but merely significant observations from specific catalogs. A study of the original Stover records will show overlap of production types in certain years.

1902 catalog

This is the earliest catalog I have. Bennett Bros. Co., Lowell, Mass., is stamped in blue ink on the first page. The engines are all closed-cylinder, tank-cooled. The 1902 catalog shows the conventional pushrod Stovers we recognize today. Early advertisements indicate Stover was selling a horizontal sideshaft engine. It is not known if any of these engines have survived or even how many were made, but they were phased out by 1902. The 1902 catalog shows horizontal engines up to 12 HP and vertical engines no larger than 4 HP. These engines are larger and heavier than later engines of the same horsepower.

The horizontal and vertical engines pictured in this catalog have no fuel pumps. The Stover name is cast in relief on the cylinders. The governor is built into the camshaft gear on both types of engine and they have square pushrods. The vertical engines are shown with "beehive"-type fuel mixers and "Stover Engine Works - Freeport Ill. USA" cast into the flywheels. There is no drip oiler shown on the vertical engines, but a compression release valve is present. All the engines are shown with low-tension igniter ignition. Only one engine is shown with an identification plate. It is rectangular and appears to be cast.

The catalog recommends using the engines to run feed grinders, water pumps, corn shellers, fanning mills, wood saws and even ice cream freezers. Most of these operations are illustrated.

The testimonials found in the catalog are of special interest because they give us a glimpse of Stover engine use in the 19th century. It's pretty hard to find someone from this early period to ask about actually using Stover engines. Nine testimonials are listed in the back of the catalog and they were all received between November and December of 1901. The Hawley Brothers of McConnell, Ill., wrote: "I wish to inform you that the six horse power engine I purchased from you in September, 1898 has given perfect satisfaction thus far. Will run anything on my farm that can be run with six horsepower engine. We run wood saw, corn husker, feed grinder and corn sheller. Has not cost one cent for repairs as yet and runs like a watch." This particular testimonial is important because it's a good indication that Stover was selling engines by at least 1898. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if Hawley's engine was one of the elusive sideshafts.

1906 Stover - Buenos Aires

This catalog is written in Spanish but is quite fascinating. The agent is Juan Shaw and Hijos. Sometime in 1903 all Stover engines changed from square to round pushrods, and fuel pumps with overflow fuel mixers were used. All the engines in this catalog have these changes. However, while the vertical engines still have the governor in the cam gear, the horizontal engines have the new style flywheel governor. The vertical engines are shown in 2, 3 and 5 HP. Five to 50 HP horizontal engines were available. The engines all have the closed-cylinder cooling system since Stover didn't offer hopper cooling until 1910. In addition to all the typical saw rigs, pumping outfits, etc., are Stover motor launches (boats), "tractors" and even a Stover-powered railroad locomotive.

I doubt that the Stover motor launches were built by Stover. I'm not aware that Stover built marine engines, but I've been fooled before. Two types of launches are shown in the catalog. There is a 60-foot long closed boat with a 2-cylinder engine that appears to be a typical 2-cycle marine engine with a heavy flywheel. A smaller open boat with a 1-cylinder, 2-cycle engine is also shown. I would like to know if anyone has information on Stover marine type engines.

Stover built some heavy "tractors" by mounting their horizontal engine on a Morton chassis. This is advertised in the catalog. We know that Stover did actually send some of these "tractors" to Argentina.

Juan Shaw and Hijos also advertised a true railroad locomotive, which used a Stover horizontal engine. The locomotive is fairly small and is shown pushing a load of logs.

1909 Stover - John Deere

The date of this catalog is derived from its content since there is no date in the book. Daniel Stover died Jan. 17, 1908. His death is memorialized in this catalog. The Stover Motor Car Co. is still shown, as is the S-9 upright engine. Both were gone by 1910. Also, there are no hopper-cooled engines in this catalog. Collectors believe the hopper-cooled engines were introduced as the "Junior" series in 1910, although C.H. Wendel (Power in the Past Volume 3) tells us a handful of Model A1, 1 HP hopper-cooled engines were introduced in 1909.

This catalog has "John Deere Plow Co. General Agents. Kansas City - Denver - Oklahoma City" printed near the bottom of the cover. The agent printing does not look like the usual "stamped ink" that many Stover catalogs exhibit. It appears to be printed on the cover, as is a very decorative "Stover Engine Works - Freeport, Illinois. U.S.A." So John Deere was selling Stover engines in this time frame.

Vertical engines in 2, 3, 5 and 9 HP were offered. Horizontal engines from 5 to 50 HP were also advertised. None were hopper-cooled. The only engine-driven accessories are a "No Flicker" gasoline engine dynamo for generating electricity and a couple of Stover pump jacks. It could be assumed that John Deere probably manufactured most of their own agricultural equipment that would otherwise be seen in Stover catalogs.

Also of interest, the vertical engines in the catalog are the later two-piece crankcase/cylinder design. There has been some speculation on when Stover quit manufacturing the one-piece engine frame. The two-piece frame evidently came before 1910. The S-9 vertical was introduced in 1907 and is shown in this catalog as a two piece engine. It may be possible that one of the Stover experts has a definitive date for the change.

No. 17, 1912 catalog

Unlike the other Stover catalogs, the cover of this catalog is artistically embossed. The tops of the pages are marked "Stover's Good Engine." The engines could be purchased for use with gas (natural or producer gas) or gasoline, with several pages in the catalog stating, "gasoline engines will always be shipped unless otherwise ordered." All-fuel (kerosene, etc.) engines are not shown in this catalog. The engines were available with stationary, skid or portable mounting.

All of the previously discussed tank-cooled horizontal and vertical engines are in this catalog. The tank-cooled horizontal engines were offered in 6 to 30 HP in portable and full base configurations. Also available are the large, air-start 45 and 60 HP horizontals.

However, of significant technical importance is a whole series of hopper-cooled engines in a range of 1 to 14 HP. All but the 1 HP engine can be purchased with full or half bases. It is known that this range would include the K, T, and W model designations (Juniors), but only the U-type engine is identified by a letter, and the designation, "Junior," is not mentioned. The U series is available in 6 to 14 HP and is National Board of Fire Underwriters approved. These engines have a decal on the hopper in the shape of a globe with "Stover" in the center. All gasoline engines above 2-1/2 HP use a fuel pump.

Portable saw rigs, pump jacks and friction clutch pulleys are advertised in this catalog.

1916 and 1917 catalogs no. 20 and 21

These colorful catalogs are some of Stover's prettiest. The cover on no. 20 shows a big sun with "Stover's Good Engine" in the center. The sun shines down upon a farm with a gas engine running a silo filler. The back page shows a farmer dumping a bushel of ear corn into a feed grinder powered by a Stover engine. Catalog no. 21 has the same sun shining down on a pristine farm with a young lad in the foreground waving to the farmer hauling a fine-looking green Stover engine in the back of his wooden-wheeled wagon. Most of the previous vertical and horizontal engines are still available.

On a technical note, "all fuel" throttling-governor engines were offered, as were magnetos. The new little 1 HP Type V engine was available, and the K was then a 1-1/2 HP engine.

Canadian Stover - Brandon, Manitoba

An exact date cannot be established for this catalog, although it is probably pre-1917. Canadian Stover engines are a mixed bag. We know that some of the engines were made in Canada. We know from the records that Freeport Stover shipped engines to Canadian distributors. It is possible that engines were made from Canadian and American parts.

And we know from an ID tag that Canadian Stover actually bought engines from the Rawleigh-Schryer Co. in Freeport, Ill. This was a direct competitor of the American Stover. There is a photo in this catalog showing a man moving a 1-1/2 HP Stover on a wheelbarrow-type cart. The photo is identical to a picture in a Rawleigh-Schryer catalog.

The engines in this catalog are similar to American Stovers. The water hoppers are a little different and the horsepower ratings vary. Most of the engines are hopper-cooled, running from 1-1/2 HP to 16 HP. There is a 25 HP screen-cooled portable engine available for $1,100. In contradiction, the text offers screen-cooled engines from 9-1/2 HP to 23 HP. The 1-1/2 HP engine can be had for $38.50 on a skid. The Webster magneto costs a whopping $11.50 extra! The magneto is $12.50 extra on the larger engines. Only gas and gasoline engines are advertised.

This catalog has a huge variety of products besides engines. In addition to the usual farm items, there are washing machines, butter churns, rope makers, an ammeter, wheelbarrows, spark plugs, batteries, oil, etc. A Stover wooden-wheeled wagon is pictured in addition to a Fuller & Johnson plow.

More catalogs later

Because there are several later types of Stover engines, the second-generation catalogs will be covered in a future article.

Contact Joe Maurer at: 797 S. Silberman Road, Pearl City, IL 61062; (815) 443-2223; toadhill@aeroinc.net