Dean Warrington said he was looking through the ads in the Wisconsin State Farmer newspaper about four years ago when the name of a small gas engine – Steiner – got his attention. Dean had never heard of the brand, so he called the advertiser and discovered the man had six engines: 1-1/2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10 HP models. He was only selling the 7 HP at that time. All but the 6 HP were Steiners; the 6 HP was a Hippe-Steiner.
The owner lived north of Chilton, Wis., where the Hippe-Steiner company started. “The 7 HP looked good so I bought it,” Dean said. “The seller called me a couple weeks later and said he noticed I had been looking at his 10 HP engine. He said he would make me a good deal on it, so I went up and bought it. Well, he called again a couple weeks later saying I should keep all of them together, so I ended up adding his 1-1/2, 3 and 5 HP Steiners to my collection. I asked him about the Hippe-Steiner, but he would not sell it. About two years ago, I heard he was out of a job and wanted to sell the Hippe-Steiner. I called him, and went up and bought it.”
The headless Hippe’s history
Dean recalled an article, written by Wayne Halsey in the October 2001 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, in which he stated that Robert Hippe and Henry Steiner joined together to form their company in 1908 in Chilton. In 1912, the company split up. Hippe got out and Steiner began building Steiner LongLife engines. The Steiner Mfg. Co. continued until about 1918, when Steiner went out of business. “I think the company only made about 4,000 engines all together,” Dean said.
Dean’s engine was built at the Chilton location, sometime between 1908 and 1912, so he is calling it a 1910 model. He guessed the date because he can not find a serial number or other documentation of age anywhere on the engine or frame.
On the right end of the crankshaft the letters “H&ST” are stamped along with “C 18.” Warrington thinks H&ST stands for Hippe-Steiner, the C for Chilton where it was made and the 18 as the 18th one made. A tin plate engraved with “Restored by Russell Ginnow 1968” is fastened to the battery box. The words “Hippe Steiner” in red and blue are painted on each side of the water hopper, and “Hippe-Steiner Chilton, Wis.” is painted in yellow on the frame.
Dean said something else that makes his engine unusual is that it is headless. The base, cylinder, water hopper and head were all molded together as one piece, making it a headless engine. “With most engines, the head is made separate from the rest of the parts,” Dean said. “This allows you to remove the head to change the rings on the piston. With this one, you have to remove the piston to work on it.”
Otherwise, it’s much like all other engines and runs on regular gasoline.
Documenting what’s left
Dean said a friend in Fond du Lac, Wis., also had a Hippe-Steiner and was looking for information about the engines and the company.
“My friend thinks there are only about 20 Hippe-Steiners in existence,” Dean said. “He’s got one and I’ve got one so there are about 18 more of them out there.
“I bought it because it is very unusual. Everyone who sees it asks me about it. They say they’ve never seen one like it or heard of the Hippe- Steiner.”
Dean said he is fortunate that his son, Larry, is a mechanic. He comes down from Minnesota each year to attend the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club’s annual Steam Show and Threshing Bee in Sycamore, Ill., with his dad.
At last summer’s show, they were having a problem getting the engine to run properly. Larry said it appeared to be leaking air at the carburetor or air intake, so he cut a new gasket, installed it and it was running like new again.
Dean has no idea of the Hippe-Steiner’s value, but he is not about to part with it – no matter what it might be worth.
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