Lewis H. Cline and his Collection of Gas Engine Tractors

Lewis H. Cline talks types of tractors and his collection of gas engine tractors over the years.

four gas engine

Photo courtesy of Ralph C. Fuller, Minneapolis, Kansas.


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Lewis H. Cline talks about his collection of gas engine tractors. 

We like the new magazine and hope it is a success. Here's a rundown of my collection of gas engine tractors.

Our first engine was a Falk 3 hp, throttling governed, sold by Advance Rumely. and was used on a 32 volt lighting plant originally. The original owner had it in his basement and exhaust was piped out the window. They found the noise objectionable so he buried an oil drum and ran the exhaust into it. You could now hardly hear it run and every thing was fine, at least so they thought. A relative saw it and thought it a very good idea, so did the same with his. However all was not fine for long, one morning he had started it up and headed for the barn and it started missing and pumped the drum full of unburned gas which exploded, making a big hole in the ground, breaking the living room window, and a ten foot square area of the Kellastone (a concrete stucco mixture) fell off the house. Needless to say that was discontinued and the relative did away with his.

This was a good engine, but we did not need 3 hp for pumping water, so traded it for an International Titan 1.5 hp hit and miss governed which we used a few years. I never liked this one very well. It was difficult to keep the piston well oiled whether the ball valve was in the oil cup or not. The oil cup was built too close to the back of the cylinder, and by looking down the pipe you could see the top or back ring on the piston pass it at the end of the power stroke, so when it fired the pressure would come up through the oil cup. making it hard to keep the oil cup filled and the piston oiled. I also found the choke hard to keep properly adjusted. Next we had a Fairbanks-Morse Type Z, 1.5 hp, hit and miss and will say I don't think a better engine was ever built, it ran faithfully a stood many years, never spent a nickel for repairs on it and it had the best compression of any I ever saw, is still in the family, and still has very good compression. It would pump water 24 hrs on a gallon of gas.

Some of my latest finds in the picture are four gas engines, namely, from left to right: Mogul 1.5 hp, New Way 2 hp, Rock Island 2 hp and Cushman 4 hp They are all restored and running and mounted on trucks.

I also have a very nice 3 hp Stickney that still has its piston stuck. I hope to have it running some of these days.

I traded a calf to a neighbor for a McCormick-Deering type M 1.5 hp throttle governed engine which had done very little running. He said it would start ok, and as soon as he turned his back on it, it would seem to flood and finally stall and be all fouled up. He had several garagemen work on it but they never helped it any. Was in hopes I could fix it, and on taking the mixer apart found a small gasket between the jet and carburetor bowl to be missing, replaced that, and it sure ran fine. Before that it would start out ok, but as soon as the fuel pump had raised the level in the mixer up to the let just before it got to the overflow pipe it flooded and not having had a gasket there, leakage allowed too much gas to reach the cylinder flooding it. I did not at the time have any particular use for it and was offered a very good price for it so sold it making a very handsome profit on it.

I must admit that this little tractor is very realistic. It represents my first owned tractor in 1916. Note, the plow behind it which was an Oliver 3 bottom 14 foot hand lift that was made especially for the tractor.

I made every piece of this model with a pair of tin snips and a gas torch, and all from flat galvanized iron except the flywheel. It runs realistic, too, by tiny motor under the crankcase. I don't think I could do it again.

A few years later I purchased new, another similar engine, which I used to operate a milking machine, also pump water, and drive a six volt car generator all at the same time, and believe me that engine was really loaded, developing considerably more than it's rated power and did so for about 22 years. It milked as many as 21 cows, pumped all the water used on the farm, and the six volt generator provided current for lights around the barn (through automobile headlight bulbs) later supplemented by current from a six volt home brew wind charger for use in the house and six volt Knight radio. These headlight bulbs gave wonderful light, a similar system is now on the market using step down transformer with low voltage bulbs featured as high intensity light. It is a fact a low voltage bulb with its shorter filament operating at its rated voltage will give more candle power per watt than the higher voltage bulbs. There seems to be an interference of light rays from the longer filaments of the higher voltage bulbs. Two 25 watt bulbs side by side will not give as much light as one 50 watt will for the same reason.

If any one has any idea of using such a system they must take into consideration that heavier wiring must be used from battery to lamps, to avoid excessive voltage drop as well as possible overheating and loss of power in the lines.

Here is a picture of my 2 hp Waterloo Boy engine, serial number 238338, type H. All original parts and runs good. Needs a little adjusting and magneto repair.

My engine, generator and battery were in the milk house nearly 100 ft. from the barn where most of the lights were, I had two-one inch pipes laid underground, one for milker vacuum and the other for water from milk-house to barn, so hooked to both of these for one side of the circuit, and used lightning rod cable for the other side and so had very near full voltage at barn for the lights.

This old engine after all those years was still in very good shape and was sold to a hobbyist in Ohio about 1957.

It was exposed frequently to sub zero temperatures in the milk house and had done more than 20,000 hours running badly overloaded, and never in all that time did I ever have to milk by hand. It always would start quite readily. Nobody but myself ever laid a wrench on it and repairs were a couple of new breaker points for the Wico magneto, half a new connecting rod bearing and exhaust valve. A pretty good record I think.

This is a 25 hp single cylinder Mogul tractor plowing in 1912.

Fuel used in it was mostly Michigan white (no leaded) gas, except for a couple of years during the war, when I used Sunoco tractor fuel (an excellent fuel). It would start and run just fine on that. I kept several engines around the country running at that time. A major cause of their troubles was burning of leaded gasoline, Lead oxide would form on the exhaust valve stem and seat making them set up and not seat well with loss of compression. Lead oxide on spark plug porcelains fouled them as the dye in the gas would form varnish and gum up carburetors. Some seemed to think the more they paid for gas the better it would be, but not so in this case. All they got for the extra money was the crud on plugs and valves.

Some may wonder if I did not get detonation, using unleaded gas, I did on the start but overcame that very effectively by rigging up an extra needle valve to the mixer to feed some water along with the fuel, which also kept the accumulation of carbon at minimum. Back in the days when most tractors burned kerosene this system was used widely. I have noted many engines have the cylinder oiler directly over the cooling hopper close to the water and when it gets hot the oil will practically run a stream instead of the 5 to 7 drops a minute. I think this is bad design, and could be easily overcome with a little forethought. In fact I think some of these designers missed their calling by quite a long ways. Also, I think a lot of companies have gone to the wall, not because of poorly designed products but due to poor management and other causes.

Myself on V. A. Case disking the field in May 1964.

I farmed for more than 30 years and well remember steam power mostly when I was a kid and have seen a lot of change during that time in farming methods.

First tractor I recollect was a single cylinder Rumely Oil Pull 15-20 hp. Was in country school at the time and about ten o'clock started to hear a distant booming noise. At recess I got outside to see it. It was about a mile away and plowing with a 5 bottom plow for a neighbor. When I got home that night my dad took me over to see it. He knew the man who owned it and we rode around the field on it. Soon after that a Bull tractor was bought a few miles away. Next a neighbor bought an International Mogul 8-16, single cylinder tractor with a self guiding affair consisting of a couple of disks on a long arm extending ahead of it running in the previously made furrow. This tractor was not too much of a success at draw bar work through it did very well on the belt. They had a lot of trouble with the left hand main bearing heating. A planetary transmission was mounted on that end of the crankshaft, so the bearing had to stand the speed of the motor as well as the pull of the chain drive which was on that side of it. Most tractors in those days did not run the right hand wheels in the furrow, thus the self guiding mechanism. This tractor was used to operate a corn shredder and one cold morning would not start right off, so they got out the hay rope and wound it around the belt pulley and pulled on it 'tug of war' fashion all of a sudden it started and the rope caught, re-wound on the pulley and literally jerked them all right out from under their hats. The same thing happened in another instance only a horse was hitched to the rope and very suddenly unharnessed.

Photo of a trailer my son designed and I had it built and on it are six engines mounted ready to go. They are as follows: 2 hp Flinchbaugh-The York made in York, Pa., 1.5 hp International Model M, 1.5 hp New Holland, 1.5 hp Stattley by Montgomery Ward Co., 1.5 hp Economy by Sears Roebuck Co., 1.5 hp Maynard Charles Williams Co. These last 3 are mail order engines. I have the original catalogs and pictures of the engines.

I have been following these steam meets for about 3 years now and here's where the rub comes in and I can't afford a steam engine and I'm not inclined in building one so several years ago I bought an old gasoline engine. I restored it and a fool like I was, I sold it. I bought some more, these I kept and as of now I have about 3 dozen. 10 of them restored like new and they run the same way, in fact, I don't use a crank. If they don't start by pulling the flywheels I wouldn't have them. This, I am told by old-timers, is unusual, but it's true.

Our first tractor was a Samson, built about 1919 by General Motors to compete with Fordson. We bought it used 1926, General Motors bought out the Janesville Plow Co. and made tractors, plows, and disc harrows there for a few years. This tractor and Janesville Reliance Plow cost $900 new and we gave $300 for it. Fordsons were quite common at that time. The Janesville plow was very big and heavy. Several Fordson owners saw the outfit before we started spring plowing, and most of them said we would have to get a lighter plow, that the Samson never would be able to pull that. However when we took it out in the spring it pulled those big 14' long moldboard plows very easily. In fact the motor could be throttled down to very low speed and still pull them, and the furrows looked just like the pictures in the catalogs. It was a pretty good tractor, seemed much more powerful than Fordson. The motor ran at same speed, had good governor, pistons same size as Fordson but stroke was .5 foot longer, Fordson had worm gear final reduction in transmission and I think a lot of their power was wasted there, I noted in old Fordson manual the normal operating temperature of the transmission was said to be 190 to 250 degrees; certainly not very comfortable to ride right next to on a hot day. The Samson used regular spur gear drive except for the first reduction which was bevel gear. The belt speed was rather low and we used a 9 foot pulley on the silo filler, then it worked very well. It always started very easily in cold weather, used a Simms magneto which had no impulse starter. The only resistance you had to overcome when cranking it was the engine compression, as clutch did not drag like Fordson. While it could have been improved on I still think it was a lot better tractor than Fordson and wished they might have continued producing them. We ran it about six years and traded it for a McCormick-Deering 10-20, kept the plow a couple of years. We found then that the plow really did pull hard. I started plowing one morning with the Samson in very cool weather, 40 degrees or so and after a bit it didn't seem to be developing its usual power. I checked oil level and pressure and everything seemed ok so I kept going and in a few minutes it had barely enough power to idle; so I started taking things apart and found the carburetor had nearly filled up with ice. The air cleaner was of the water type and the refrigeration from vaporizing the gas had gradually filled it up with ice from the moist air from the air cleaner.

I wonder if any one has a Samson tractor, I don't even have any pictures of it now but hope to see some in this magazine some time.

20 hp Mogul ready to leave the "Bush" in Saskatchewan, Canada, October, 1965. Pictured left to right, W.C. Abels, Clay Center, Kansas; Bill Krumweidel, Voltaire, North Dakota; Harold Ottaway, Wichita, Kansas; John Tysse, Crosby, North Dakota; "Red" Russel, Wichita, Kansas.

20-40 Case and several engines included were: 2-7 hp Stickneys, Gould Shapley & Muir, 7 hp Eaton, 4 hp Field & Brundage. Also 3 hp Schmidt chilled cylinder and .75 hp Plunkett. These were bought in Saskatchewan, Canada, October 1965. Left to right, John Tysse, Cosby, North Dakota; W.C. Abels, Clay Center, Kansas; 'Red' Russel, Wichita, Kansas; Harold Ottaway, Wichita, Kansas.

A picture of Massey Harris four-wheel drive tractor. This tractor is powered by a Waukesha motor, has standard size power take-off, 3 speed forward and reverse. I don't know what year this tractor was built. It is still in running order. We use it for odd jobs here on the farm.

Here is a picture of a model U. Allis Chalmers Tractor that was made about 1929 with an EN6-S10A Continental Engine. Someone converted it to rubber tires. The front wheels are U.M. wheels. It had chains all way round this winter (all 4 wheels — a chore to keep repaired).

I have two sons who are members of the Association with a nine year old hoping to join too. My 12 year old at one time was the youngest member. He looks like a 10 year old and really looks small when driving our A. C. Tractor. My father is a Charter member of the New York Steam Engine Association. He is Arthur Norton. The Vice-President. Lester Norris of Marcellus has been a life long friend of the family. So has Melvin Fellows of Syracuse. I haven't joined but have gone to as many of the get-togethers with the Steam Engines that I could get to, (and I catch a ride when ever possible).