First Things

Regan Engine

Bill Santos of 261 Buckboard Road, Newcastle, CA 95658 owns this rare Regan engine. See his story on page 31.

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261 Buckboard Rd, Newcastle, California 95658

While I was participating at the Pugest Sound show in Lynden, WA in 1987, a man stopped by and said he had a California engine up in Canada and wondered if someone would be interested in it. I said I would come take a look at it after the show as I collect California engines. When looking at it I found that it had no main bearings, rod bearings, gas valve body, carburetor, rocker arm or original electrical parts, and someone had converted it to a hit & miss linkage. I knew that wasn't right either but made him an offer which he accepted.

I brought it home to Newcastle, and after a week called Larry Snow of Branch 13 as he has information on California engines. He already knew that I had found a Regan engine! Word does get around!

I asked him to send me information on the engine, and he said he would be by in a couple of weeks with it. When he came he brought a 4 HP Regan with a missing flywheel, which he had just acquired. He and three other club members had spent two days with on site-built raft getting it two miles up the river in the gold country.

Seeing his engine-and parts- gave me the opportunity to make patterns for my missing parts so 1 could cast them later.

I spent most of the spring getting it ready for the 1988 National EDGE&TA show at Merced, California. Then off to Lynden, Washington for their 1988 show. While showing it at Lynden three people had long faces as they had turned down the opportunity to buy it because it was 'too far gone' for them! It drew a lot of attention at the show.


About the Regan: D. S. Regan patented the first electrical internal ignition (make and break) in the U.S. in 1889, being a bolt on the top of the piston that touched a flat insulated spring in the cylinder head at top dead center building up a charge in a coil that sparked on the way down creating ignition. (See patent info.)

Regan also invented a type of carburetor for vaporizing gasoline. He sold out to the Union Iron Works and they discontinued the engine in 1896. My engine is 6' bore and 8' stroke. It weighs 1000 lbs. and develops 3 HP at 150 rpm.

The University of California at Davis has one vertical and one horizontal Regan. Dick Hamp and Larry Snow each have a horizontal, as is mine, and Bill Prine has a vertical with marine gear. These are all of different configuration and are the only six that we know of.

But you never can tell when someone will find one under a lone pine tree or in an old gold mine.

Igniters, Sparkers, Make and Break, Piston Operated 408,356. DANIEL S. REGAN,

San Francisco, California Gas-Engine. Filed April 5, 1888. Patented Aug. 6, 1889. Serial No. 269,756. (No model.) Patented in England Oct. 27, 1888, No. 15,448.

My invention relates to improvements in gas-engines; and it consists in making the piston a part of the electric circuit and fixing one of the electrodes to it, while the other electrode, properly insulated, is so arranged within the cylinder as to be touched by the piston-electrode at each stroke, so that the circuit is closed and broken at each stroke of the piston.

The object of my invention is to provide an explosive gas-engine with an ignitor the operation of which shall be dependent upon the movements of the engine-piston, and to close and open the electrical circuit by the stroke of the piston.

1.  In a gas-engine, an electrical circuit including the engine-piston, an electrode fixed to the piston and reciprocating with it, and a second electrode fixed within the explosive chamber of the engine and insulated therefrom, whereby the electrical circuit is closed and broken at each stroke of the piston, as described.

2.  In a gas-engine, an electrical circuit including the engine-piston and electrode fixed to and reciprocating with the piston, in combination with a second insulated flexible electrode fixed within the engine-cylinder, so that contact is made and broken between the two electrodes at each stroke of the piston, as herein described.

3. In a gas-engine, the spring D, the insulated spring-holder E, having the clamp-block F and the set-nut H, connected with one pole of an electric battery, in combination with a connecting-finger C, attached to the piston B, and the cylinder A, connected with the battery by means of the electric wire J, for the purpose of making the circuit by direct connection with the piston at each stroke of the same, constructed and operated substantially as and for the purposes set forth.