A Horseless Wagon 1909 1910

A Large Natural Gas Engine

Harry H. Bonnema

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In 1909, this horseless wagon was the talk of Blue Ball, Pa. and surroundings. It was there that P. E. Shirk, a local innovator, built it for farm transport work. New Holland engines supplied the power to make it go.

What a Blue Ball Man Has Done to Make Work Easier On the Farm.

P. E. Shirk, the well known inventor and machinist, of Blue Ball, (Pa.), has constructed a new horseless farm wagon. The wagon consists of a truck eleven feet long and about four feet wide mounted on 4 wheels. Toward the rear end of the truck a 3 horse power New Holland gasoline engine is placed. To the rear of the engine is the drivers' seat. To the front of the engine is the wagon bed.

The driving mechanism is so constructed that the driver guides the machine and handles the forward and backward motion by the use of only one guiding wheel or lever.

So far as this new device has been tested it has given good satisfaction. Mr. Shirk intends building larger ones and making improvements on them.

This auto-wagon will become a handy thing on the farm. It furnishes its own propelling power and can be used to haul all manner of farm products, including hay and straw. It can be easily driven from one part of the farm to another and can be used to furnish power of stone crushing, chopping, woodsawing and the like.

IN 1910, this brand new Reo roadster provided summertime transportation for New Holland President Eli Martin. During the winter he used a horse.

At left is a tractor I built in 1948. Everything in it but the kitchen sink. Used it for 18 years. In the center photo is a New Way, No. 4375, 250 to 660 rpm, 3 to 3? HP. Restored but needs main bearings. Year? Can somebody tell me? At right is an Arco, No. 215051, 550 rpm, 1? E HP. Anybody know what the E stands for? l don't know the year of this engine either.

At top is a 1 HP Titan hopper-cooled engine. I've been corresponding with Walter 'Doc' Schrage about this engine and he writes that if the cam gear has 56 teeth and number on cam gear is G7484, it's most likely made in 1911. Are these engines also called Tom Thumb, Mogul, Titan Jr., Titan Famous?

Bottom picture is a Fuller Johnson, No. 161955, 2 HP, 550 rpm, 1926. Restored by yours truly.

Top left is a John Deere tractor seat with harness homes for legs, made by Alfred Egbers of Hoober, Nebraska and presented to me. Top center photo is some of my collection of scale model toys and reproduced coin banks. At right is a large natural gas engine owned by Wayne Schmidt of Monroe, South Dakota. This is an engine that was used in the oil fields on the Rod System and pulled 20 oil wells. It has a 14 inch piston and 22 inch stroke. The flywheels are six feet high. It now runs on bottled gas.

Bottom left is the engine owned by Mike Jensen. It is really a show engine and has a lot of nickel plating on it and is painted a dark maroon. No one seems to know what make it is -- some think it is a Walters, but nobody knows for sure. Center photo is a small gas engine owned by Don Hinds of Centerville, South Dakota. It is on display at the Gas and Steam picnic. At right is a close-up of some of my scale model toys. The truck in foreground is all wood except the tires. It is in mint condition. I bought it at a sale at the High school that was raising money for the band.

My 5 HP Fairbanks Morse engine - it's a hit and miss, make and break ignition fired by a Sumter Magneto. The flywheels are 41' in diameter. The gas and cooling tank are not original. This engine was on exhibit at the Fred Bruns Threshing Show last fall.

A 1911 Mogul, 25 HP. Built by IHC. This is a Hit & Miss motor; has a special cooling system.

A 1920 Twin City, 20-35 HP, 4 cylinder with 16 valves. This is a powerful engine.

This Westinghouse engine was running just before I took the picture. I have no further information on it as I received no replies to my letters asking for more details.

Some of the engines and tractors at the Engine Show held in connection with the McKean County Fair at Smethport, Pennsylvania in 1972. This was their first engine show and a huge success in spite of little publicity and will be an annual event.

At left is a tractor I built in 1948. Everything in it but the kitchen sink. Used it for 18 years. In the center photo is a New Way, No. 4375, 250 to 600 rpm, 3 to 3-1/2 HP. Restored but needs main bearings. Year? Can somebody tell me? At right is an Arco, No. 215051, 550 rpm, 1-1/2 E HP. Anybody know what the E stands for?! don't know the year of this engine either.

Simple hot-tube igniter replaces the spark-plug on a small, 30 year old, Briggs & Stratton model WI Engine.

The 14 MM spark-plug was replaced by a 1/4' by 4' long iron pipe. One end is capped and the other end has a special tapered thread to fit the engine. The center portion is turned down to give about 3/64' wall thickness. When the tube is heated to a dull red, a little above the center, the engine starts easily and runs without a miss.

A 14 MM spark-plug thread is about the same diameter as that of a 1/4' iron pipe but the pitch is 20, not 18, so with a little lathe work the 1/4' iron pipe can be made to fit the engine satisfactorily.

At left is a 10 HP Witte Engine. Center photo is my Cletrac 12-20 and at right is the engine manufactured by O. S. Kelly, Iowa City, Iowa (about 1903). These are my oldest engines.

1935 10-20 HP English Fordson Tractor.

This Farmall tractor had been in the Warren family since new in the 30s, until being sold in the 40s. James had driven it while still a child. He came across it and recognized it in 1970 and was able to buy it back. He spent about two enjoyable months restoring it. He uses it to do a little truck farming and takes very good care of it. His father was the original owner.

A 1925 Case, 25-45 HP, crossmount motor, 4 cylinder. A very good belt engine.

Shown is my son John Robert Hamilton and our newly acquired John Deere B tractor 5436. I offered the previous owner $15 for the fenders; he told me for $25 I could buy the whole tractor. My son and I have six tractors and several gas engines.

Pictured is a 3 HP sideshaft Root and VanDervoort that sold at a recent sale at Canton, Illinois. Mr. Andy Kruse of Park Ridge, Illinois bought the engine. I know we will be seeing this engine at Northern Illinois shows in the near future.

Above pictures were taken in 1935 at Newton Siding, Manitoba, Canada. It is a 30-60 Hart Parr and a 40-60 Red River Special Separator owned by John Denser.