One Horse Show: Mike Healy’s 1 hp Engine Collection

Engine collector’s exhibit highlights different styles of 1 hp engines.

Circa-1911-1912 1 hp Domestic

Circa-1911-1912 1 hp Domestic.

Photo by Nikki Rajala

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A series of events led Mike Healy into the gasoline engine hobby. “I was a town boy, but my dad and uncles were raised on a farm, so we all attended the steam show in our little town of Fulton, Missouri, in the 1960s. I enjoyed steam, but I was intrigued by the gas engines early,” the 63-year-old collector says.

In 1974, Mike bought a 1939 1-1/4 hp Monitor engine at a farm sale. A local gentleman introduced himself, and invited Mike over. “Henry Matteson and I got to be good friends, and he mentored me early on. I bought a 1911 1 hp Monitor from his son after Henry’s passing. That was a turning point. I saw differences between my 1-1/4 and 1 hp Monitors. For instance, increasing the horsepower only required increasing the flywheel diameter by 1/4 inch. That really intrigued me. It was greater in the 2, 3, and 4 hp engines. After that I started looking at smaller engines.”

As his collection of 1 hp engines grew, Mike started showing them, but with a purpose. “I’d never seen anybody show the different engine styles at one time, so we decided to do that,” Mike says. Those engines included a Domestic sideshaft, a Monitor upright, a Quincy air-cooled, and a Root & Vandervoort igniter-equipped engine.

Mike has high praise for the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion, where he likes to show his engines and which draws a wide cross-section of people. “We think up phrases to describe what we have at a show, and for these four it’s ‘One Horse Show.’ A theme encourages the general public to stop and visit, which we enjoy,” Mike says.

Circa-1911-1912 1 hp Domestic

Manufacturer: Domestic Engine & Pump Co., Shippensburg, PA
Year: Circa 1911-1912
Serial Number: 10084
Horsepower: 1 hp @ 300rpm (est.)
Bore & stroke: 3-1/2in x 4in
Flywheel dia: 14in x 1-1/2in
Ignition: Spark plug w/battery & coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss flywheel weights
Cooling: Hopper, 15 gallons

A sideshaft Domestic engine was on the list of engines Mike wanted, so he went to an auction where one was being sold. “At the auction, another gentleman had the same idea, so I had to give a lot of money to get it. The previous owner had added brass when he restored it, so I knew it would make a nice display.” The real draw, he says, is the design of the engine. “With that sideshaft there’s a lot to watch; the cam and ignition and exhaust valve. Yet despite all that, the Domestic is quiet as can be and it has a really good muffler design.” With pushrod engines, he adds, you always hear the roller come around on the cam gear and make a “plunking” noise.

Mike says his 1 hp Domestic is similar to his 1-1/2 hp Domestic, except for additions by the previous owner. “He dialed it up so it is eye-catching. The 1 hp Domestic is unique because not many companies built a 1 hp sideshaft. We get a lot of compliments on this engine, wherever we take it.” Restoration work included reworking the cylinder and piston. “The engine had been setting for quite a while, so it needed to be totally gone through.”

Mike says the Domestic is a quality piece of equipment, well machined and highly dependable. “That area of Pennsylvania [Shippensburg] is well known for quality mechanical work. These one horses were lightweight and could be moved all over the farm, mostly to pump water, as well as run washing machines; one ad shows a woman rolling it next to a washing machine.”

Discussing Domestic engines in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, author C.H. Wendel says, “The exceptionally tall water hopper permitted longer runs without attention and gave a distinctive appearance. These engines were shipped on skids, with battery and all connections in place and ready to run.” Sister Domestic engines of the same era came in 2 hp and 3 hp, with 4 x 6 and 5 x 6-inch bore and stroke, respectively.

1911 1 hp Monitor

Manufacturer: Baker Mfg. Co., Evansville, WI
Year: 1911
Serial Number: 5864
Horsepower: 1 hp @ 500rpm
Bore & stroke: 3-1/2in x 4in
Flywheel dia: 17-1/2in x 2-1/4in
Ignition: Spark plug w/battery & coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss flywheel weights
Cooling: Hopper

Most collectors never get to see the upright style 1 hp Monitor, Mike says. It really is that rare – in fact it’s not even listed in Wendel‘s gas engine encylopedia, possibly because all company records were destroyed in 1944. “It has a special meaning to me because it belonged to Henry Madsen, and it got me started collecting,” Mike says.

Beyond its rarity, a few other things make this engine unique. “There’s the canteen-shaped cast iron gas tank, which was changed to a more efficient design after a year or so, and the design of the exhaust and intake valve.” On early engines, both valves were in a pronounced chest on the side of the cylinder, stems facing down. Later engines moved the valves closer into the cylinder, with the valves opposite each other, intake up and exhaust down. Along with bringing the flywheel closer to the side of the engine, those changes made the engine more efficient, and streamlined.

Another unique feature is the hand-hole inspection opening on the side of the crankcase where operators could oil the connecting rod. “On the early engines the cover slid up, and I’d guess that piece got lost or thrown away pretty easily. Very few were made with this early design. The new design had the cover hinged on the bottom and a wing nut on top,” Mike notes.

Circa-1911-1912 1 hp Quincy

Manufacturer: Quincy Engine Co., Quincy, PA
Year: Circa 1911-1912
Serial Number: 264
Horsepower: 1 hp @ 500rpm
Bore & stroke: N/A
Flywheel dia: 16in x 1-1/2in
Ignition: Spark plug w/battery & coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss
Cooling: Air w/fan

Janet Healy, Mike’s wife, grew up in Quincy, Illinois, prior to coming to Fulton to teach with Mike in the Missouri School for the Deaf. So when they saw a Quincy, Illinois, engine, they bought it. That led to the pair buying another Quincy engine, this one manufactured by Quincy Engine Co. of Quincy, Pennsylvania.

The Healys had become friends with Quincy engine lover Dick Shelley, and when Dick passed away they bought his 2 hp Pennsylvania Quincy engine. “There is no connection between the Quincy engines except the name, and when this 1911 or 1912 1 hp Quincy Pennsylvania engine came up for sale, I knew it was rare because there aren‘t many of either style around.” The engines are totally different, Mike says, with the Illinois Quincy being throttle-governed, for example, and the Pennsylvania hit-and-miss.”

Mike restored the Quincy engine. “Having it apart showed me the high quality of the engine. The machining work is unbelievable, much better than a lot of other engines,” Mike says. The heavy cast bronze tag bespeaks the quality, and showed that the company took pride in their work, Mike adds.

However, Mike doesn’t think this Quincy was put into production. “That happened lots of times,” Mike says. “They‘d make three or four and sell them, and correct problems with a new variety of the engine.” Mike says this engine probably has the best governor of all the small engines they have. “The governor is very well designed. The speed can be adjusted with a thumb nut on a spring behind the crankshaft. A lever in front of the crankshaft above the camshaft cam gear allows you to advance and retard the ignition to the speed of the engine. It’s a really well-thought-out design, and a steady-running engine. Often a governor has flywheel weights that lock a lever, keeping the exhaust valve open. It runs at the same speed all the time. This design has five parts, including a set of stationary springs against the weight on the flywheel, with a little fork design to put resistance against the weight of the flywheel. It takes a lot more work to build parts like that and machine them. So it’s really quite detailed,” he says.

This Quincy fires on every rotation. “It was an early design, it’s intriguing. They didn’t stop the spark plugs from firing during the time it was coasting.” This 1 hp Quincy is probably one of only three in existence.

1913 1 hp Root & Vandervoort

Manufacturer: Root and Vandervoort Eng. Co., East Moline, IL
Year: 1913
Serial Number: AL23532
Horsepower: 1 hp @ 500rpm
Bore & stroke: 3-1/4in x 4in
Flywheel dia: 15in x 1-1/2in
Ignition: Igniter w/coil and battery
Governing: Hit-and-miss, horizontal flyball off cam gear
Cooling: Hopper

Rounding out the styles of 1 hp engines in the Healys’ collection is a 1913 1 hp Root & Vandervoort igniter-equipped engine. The igniter feature was a draw, but they also bought the engine because it was sold by John Deere Plow Co., before they created their Type E engine, Mike says. “That one caught our eye when we wanted a 1 hp igniter-fired engine, and I liked the tie-in with the John Deere dealerships. We had to chase down a guy on a trailer to get it. It’s another well-built and quality engine.”

The R&V did require a lot of work. “It wasn’t restored, so I had to go through it and make some parts, including on the governor system. This was the first year the governor went from flywheel weight to a two-ball governor that ran off the cam. I had to remake a few pieces that were lightweight. The company was trying to save money, I suppose,” Mike says. The engine received a thorough work over, with much of its mechanical hardware including timing gears being replaced. The R&V engine’s paint style and detail strip are sharp and catchy-looking. “I’m sure they thought it was a selling factor. There was always more than one reason why a farmer bought an engine.”

Love of working

Mike says he collects antique gasoline engines because he loves how they were designed, and he likes working on them. “I’m just intrigued by the design of early engines, and I love to do the machining and mechanical work on them, I love to make them run. I’m just fascinated by the fact that every company had their own idea for their engine, and they thought it was a better idea than those of other engine makers,” Mike says.

More than that, Mike says, is the friends they’ve made through the gas engine hobby. “We do a lot of visiting with people at the engine shows. We enjoy engines so much, and we like to share our passion.”


Quincy vs. Quincy

Quincy Engine Co. of Quincy, Pennsylvania, and Quincy Engine Works of Quincy, Illinois, are related in name only.

Quincy of Pennsylvania manufactured engines from about 1911 through 1917, when it was listed in the Farm Implement News Buyer’s Guide of 1917 as manufacturing gasoline and kerosene engines (stationary, semi-portable, portable and tractors), air compressors, rock drilling outfits, fruit spraying outfits, power pumps and pump jacks, as well as the Quincy tractor manufactured starting in 1912 for a couple of years.

Quincy of Illinois made a few engines, but very little is known about the company outside of several period advertisements and a few journal reports, including one in the Jan. 14, 1904, Iron Age, which said: “The Quincy engine works, Quincy Illinois, report an excellent business in their line for June. In addition to a dozen orders for Quincy Corliss engines the company have just secured a contract for a large compound vertical automatic engine for a direct connected electrical unit. These orders, in addition to a large contract for special machinery for the United States Steel Corporation, seem to demonstrate beyond a doubt that the now famous ‘Q’ for Quincy and ‘Q’ for quality seems to have struck a popular chord.”

Another reference in The Iron Trade Review in its April 20, 1905, issue mentioned a strike caused by the head of the union being charged with murder. According to the report, the charge was not pressed. A piece in the same magazine in 1910 was headlined “Otis Elevator Takes Over Quincy Engine Plant,” a takeover that apparently marked the end of Quincy Illinois engine production. – Bill Vossler