Gas Engines Defined Iowa Manufacturer's Career


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You might think of William Galloway, who would become most famous for his Galloway gasoline engines, as a 'Renaissance Man.' An innovator in sales and manufacturing, his breadth of interests and his affect on the fabric of life of Waterloo, Iowa - beginning with his move to the city in 1901 as a farm machinery salesman - was wide and deep.

Galloway sold farm machinery, including harrows and manure spreaders, oat hullers and tractors. He built and sold automobiles, and gas engines as well. Along with others, he developed urban settlements around Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, and sold his wares through a pioneering and successful mail order business.

It's no wonder that C.H. Wendel, writing in Manufacturing Companies of Gasoline Engines in Early Waterloo, was moved to note that, "Much of the industrial development of early Waterloo centered around William Galloway."

Shortly after moving to Waterloo, "Big Bill" Galloway started the Wilson-Galloway Co. to manufacture farm machinery and vehicles. Then, in 1905, Galloway went off on his own to form the William Galloway Co. Inc., selling chiefly harrow carts, on which the operator could ride behind the harrow. The next year, according to Wendel, he added manure spreaders, cream separators and gasoline engines to his line.

Engines are Number One

Though no literature about Galloway says so, it's obvious the gasoline engine was his primary interest, because it was the only product he stayed with for almost his entire career.

Immediately after starting his own company, Galloway started sending out engine catalogs. For 1907, the Success 1-1/2 HP air-cooled model sold for $48.50. It featured spark plug ignition and had a 3-3/4-by-4-inch bore and stroke, and was manufactured in Wisconsin instead of Galloway's plant in Iowa. Also readily available were 2-1/2 ($75), 5 ($110), and 7 HP ($175) models, while 8 and 12 HP models were available by special order.

By 1908, Galloway's manufacturing facility was in place, and he began making his own engines. His first units were hopper-cooled 2-1/2 HP engines with a 4-1/2-by-7-inch bore and stroke, selling for $87.50.

Other 1908 engines included 5 and 7-1/2 HP machines. "Regular features of the 1908 engines," C.H. Wendel writes in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, "... included a turned steel connecting rod and a crankshaft machined from a solid steel billet. Galloway claimed their engines to be 'the simplest, most perfect mechanically, most wonderful power unit for the money ever produced by an American manufacturer.'" The 1908 5 HP stationary model sold for $119, while the portable was $130. The 7-1/2 HP, which weighed 1,640 pounds, sold for $205. Larger Galloway engines in 1908 included 10, 15, 18, 22 and 28 HP sizes. Ten and 15 HP engines sold for $350, while the larger ones sold for $450, $500 and $650, respectively.

1910 proved a big year for the William Galloway Co., thanks to the purchase of the Cascaden Mfg. Co. of Waterloo. In a 1946 interview with the Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, Galloway had high praise for Cascaden. "When we moved to Waterloo, it was a town of about 12,000 population. Thomas Cascaden was the leading industrialist of the city. He had a factory down on Commercial Street where he manufactured gasoline engines."

Following the 1910 purchase, Galloway began manufacturing Cascaden's gasoline engines, adding air-cooled Boss of the Farm 1-3/4 HP engines to the line. At the same time, Galloway built the Galloway Agricultural Club as a place to entertain customers. This 200-by-60-foot building was roomy, comfortable and substantially furnished, with cozy corners and old-fashioned fireplaces. Out-of-town customers received free room and board.

Manufacturing Companies of Gasoline Engines in Early Waterloo said that the 1900 to 1915 period "… was the era when Waterloo manufactured one-fifth of all the gasoline engines made in the entire nation. In 1913, the U.S. produced 250,000 gasoline engines - 50,000 came from companies located in Waterloo," and prime movers were Galloway and Cascaden. Other manufacturers included Waterloo Motor Works, Iowa Gasoline Engine Co., Associated Mfg. Co., Litchfield Mfg. Co. and Dart Mfg. Co.

1916 was another big year, as the company consolidated the tank-cooled engines they made to include only four - 6, 8, 12 and 16 HP ­- engines in both gasoline (which the catalogs recommended) and kerosene. Kerosen, Galloway conceded in one of his later catalogs, was a better fuel than gasoline in certain situations. The engines cost $115, $176, $250 and $371, respectively.

Also in 1916, the company began manufacturing the 6 HP Galloway Masterpiece Six engine, which included a battery ignition for the base price of $98.75, a built-in dynamo for $10 more, and a Webster Tri-Polar oscillating magneto for another $8.75. Galloway said, "I stake my reputation on this engine." Of course he didn't have to, as the engine sold in the thousands. "The direction arrow on the flywheel," Wendel writes, "was unique to the Galloway line, and was regularly painted on each engine."

The 4 HP engine introduced in 1916 was re-rated to 5 HP and called the Bulldog. In 1918, the new 3 HP Galloway was featured, with a 4-1/2-by-6-inch bore and stroke, rated at 400 RPM.

The final new engine, according to Wendel, was the Handy Andy in 1926. This 1-1/4 HP machine was "recommended for virtually any household job, from cream separators to washing machines." It operated at 600 RPM, weighed a mere 140 pounds, and cost $36.90.

Galloway Automobiles

Galloway's interest in automobiles began almost immediately after he moved to Waterloo. In 1902, he bought a train car-load of single-cylinder Cadillacs, parked them diagonally in front of his office, and sold all of them.

In 1904, he and fellow Waterloo carriage builder Henry Greutsmacher designed their own automobile. It was the first auto in the city that steered with a round wheel rather than a tiller. In 1908, they offered the automobile to the public. A 2-cylinder, solid-tired, chain-driven high-wheeler, it was supposed to take a large family to church on Sunday, yet still haul heavy loads during the week. Running a 14 HP engine and equipped with an 85-inch wheelbase, it's doubtful the loads could've been too big. Galloway said feeding horses corn worth 75 cents per bushel, oats worth 35-40 cents, and hay worth $14-20 a ton was a waste of hard-earned money that could be better spent on buying Galloway auto transport.

In 1909, Galloway enticed Senator Fred Maytag of Newton, Iowa, a farm machinery builder, to invest in the Mason Automobile Co., and move it to Waterloo. According to The Mason Era 1905-1913, "Maytag had just begun to develop the washing machine business, which was to make his name a household word a few years later, but apparently saw a sound opportunity in the automobile business. The Mason Automobile Co. was again re-named, and in November 1909 became the Maytag-Mason Motor Co." Galloway sold Maytag the building for the new company.

The 2-cylinder car made by the company was called "The Maytag, formerly the Mason," and the 4-cylinder vehicle was simply the Maytag. Changing management, moving the plant to a new location and trying to introduce a new model all at once proved to be too much. The discovery a year later that the automobile's rear axle was faulty spelled the end of the business. Maytag pulled out, heading back to Newton to make his name in washing machines. A 1911 Galloway, which was merely a renamed Maytag, was made, but after that, the company folded.

Galloway, however, could not get automobiles out of his mind, so in 1915 he had Benjamin Briscoe build the Arabian auto in his Jackson, Mich., plant. The 1915 Arabian was a 4-cylinder, 12 HP model with a 90-inch wheelbase, and owed its lines to a previous vehicle, the Argo cyclecar. The 1916-17 Arabians were 4-cylinder, 22 HP cars with either a 96-inch wheelbase in the two-passenger roadster (factory price of $385, same as the 1915 vehicle), or a four-passenger roadster with a 103-inch wheelbase for $435. 1917 was probably the last year the Arabian was made, and Galloway was finally entirely out of the automobile business. During his 75 years, Galloway said he owned 67 autos.

Galloway Trucks

From 1908-1911, Galloway made and sold Galloway trucks. These were high-wheelers powered by a 14 HP, 2-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine located under the seat with a planetary transmission and chain drive to the rear wheels. These right-hand-steer trucks had leaf springs front and rear, an open cab, an 85-inch wheelbase with 32-by-1-1/2-inch front and 33-by-3-inch rear carriage-type wood spoke wheels with solid tires. They sold for $570 in 1908. Although Galloway designed these vehicles, the Dart Mfg. Co., also of Waterloo, Iowa, manufactured them for him.

Galloway Tractors

Galloway loved gasoline engines, and spent most of his life manufacturing and selling varieties of them, so it was perhaps no surprise when, in 1915, he began building an experimental one to enter the gasoline tractor field. As P.S. Rose wrote in a dispatch in Report on Tractor Companies, 1915, "William Galloway Co., Waterloo, Iowa. Just starting to make tractors. Building ten. Purely experimental."

That experiment morphed into the Farmobile tractor, of which 1,600 were built by the end of 1916. Galloway's big coup was also his undoing.

About this time, according to the Waterloo Daily Courier of Aug. 5, 1922, "The Galloway tractor was chosen by (British) experts after trying 11 different makes selected and sent to England for tests and inspection. The Galloway worm-drive tractor won first prize at an exhibition at the Royal Palace, London, competing against both the United States and foreign markets." On the strength of that showing, Great Britain ordered $1.6 million worth of tractors (some references say $1.3 million) for use during World War I. Galloway claimed to have lost at least $450,000 on the deal, though it is unclear whether, as one story says, Great Britain didn't pay for all the tractors or because of Galloway's involvement in a tractor-manufacturing plant in England to build Farmobiles, called "Garner" tractors.

The small Farmobile tractor weighed 5,450 pounds, used a 4-cylinder engine with a 4-1/2-by-5-inch bore and stroke, pulled 2,000 pounds in high gear, had two forward speeds, and was rated as a 12-20. Farmobile tractors were built through 1919. In 1920 the company went bankrupt, and Galloway lost almost all his fortune, including his beloved house on Grand Avenue in Cedar Falls. The 20-room mansion, built of red brick with a steel frame, had five bedrooms, each with a sleeping porch, on the second story. It was the finest house in the area when it was finished in 1917, and included servants' quarters, a large playroom, six marble bathrooms and oak woodwork. One of the happiest days of Galloway's life occurred 25 years later when he was able to repurchase the house.

The Method to Success

Perhaps the only thing that Galloway was better at building than gasoline engines was clientele. He believed strongly in mail-order, and by 1922, had 300,000 names of actual customers on his roll.

He used three different sales plans: Cash with order, the cheapest option; a cash bank deposit, paid after the machine was delivered; and 50 percent down, with the remainder payable at 6 percent interest for three or six months. Later, a fourth option was added: $5 down and $10 per month.

Shipments were made to every state in the U.S., to Canada and to many foreign countries, including China, Australia, the Philippines, Cuba, the British West Indies, Siam, India, Russia, England, France, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and various countries in South America. Most foreign shipments were cream separators and gasoline engines, except for that one large disastrous order of tractors.

Other Ventures

The list of "Big Bill" Galloway's other ventures is impressive. In addition to his work with machinery, Galloway helped develop a dozen suburban additions in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, served as the first mayor of Cedar Heights, helped organize and launch Waterloo's National Dairy Cattle Congress and International Belgian Horse Show, and played a leading role in the development of Waterloo as an industrial center.

Though Galloway lost everything, he was a hard man to keep down. "It's your batting average that counts." Galloway said, "William Crapo Durant, who started General Motors, used to tell me, 'If you can put through one deal out of every 10, you will be a success.'"

In 1927, William Galloway & Sons was formed. He and his sons David and Hugh made oat hullers, sold Hereford cattle, Canadian oats and other tested seeds, and he made his comeback in a different agricultural sector. Unfortunately, the products for which William Galloway was known best - Galloway gasoline engines, cars, trucks, tractors and general farm use - were never built again.

Bill Vossler is a freelance writer and the author of several books on antique farm tractors and toys. Contact Bill at: Box 372, 400 Caroline Lane, Rockville, MN 56569; (320) 253-5414;