Alpha Engine

Courtesy of Gene Fisher, Modesto, California 95357.

Gene Fisher

Content Tools

California 95351

I would like to share a picture and some information on the Alpha line of engines. I am under the impression that they were manufactured by a Lauson engine company, although they were sold by De Laval Dairy Supply of San Francisco and Seattle.

The instruction manual that I have a copy of, thanks to Dick Squires, president of branch No. 6 tells that the word Alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet was to mean First Quality. These engines portable and semi-portable were manufactured in sizes from 2 h.p. to 28 h.p. gas and kerosene. They also built multi-cylinder engines up to four cylinders. These were rated from 18 to 100 h.p.

This engine is gasoline burning with throttling governor. It is rated at 10 h.p. with 24' dia. pulley with 7' face having 325 revolutions per minute. Type D. with serial No. of 8609. Also has a Summter low tension mag with igniter. The weight of engine and original truck is 2825 pounds. I do not know the date of manufacturing of this engine but the manual was printed in 1913 and it shows identical picture. I would like some help if any one can, on dating this engine.

This engine was sitting under the eve of a barn for about thirty years, as the owners uncle told him. This man had bought the ranch from his uncle prior to me finding the engine. When I inquired about an old engine sitting by the barn he said he didn't think there was one. He told me he would meet me there in about one half an hour. So friend and I went to have a look see. Well you all know how these old work horses look alter a lengthy retirement, SAD.

The owner arrived and asked what we had found, and we all took a look. He said he thought it was some kind of an old gear reduction or something. This makes this fellow about 35 years old, not knowing the difference between a gasoline engine and a gear reduction. Piled on top was an old saw mandrel and wooden frame. Well, how do you get around to that question? Would you consider selling it? He came up with that certain eye twinkle that you didn't know for sure what he was thinking. And then said how about twenty-five dollars. At first I thought that was a lot of green for that pile of tired metal.

Upon disassembling I found only two small parts missing, which I was able to fabricate in my welding shop. Along with stuck piston, burnt valves, rust, grease, and holes in the gas tank, I had begun to wonder if I had gotten stung.

The instruction manual states that De Laval guaranteed the mag for the life of the engine. This was the understatement of the ages. This is a six magnet mag, and ZAP. After thirty-five years in the weather and one spin with my finger in the wrong place I was six sheets in the wind on that spark. I would of hated to have gotten the spark when the mag was new.

The engine starts very easily and runs at a very nice even pace and makes a nice show piece and power plant.

An Alpha engine -- see story.