An Engine Named Gus – Part 2 of 2

Visiting Gus’ maker, the Carl Anderson Co., and its successor, W.C. Anderson Co.

An Engine Names Gus

A 15-20 hp Anderson featured in the December/January 2010 issue of GEM.

Photo by Curt Holland

Content Tools

Manufacturer: The Carl Anderson Co., Chicago, IL
Serial no.: 232
Horsepower: 2 hp (est./rpm unknown)
Bore & stroke: 4-1/8 in x 6 in
Flywheel dia.: 22 in x 2-1/2 in
Ignition: Igniter (originally; converted to spark plug at unknown time)
Governing: Throttle governing

Last issue, we introduced Gus and described where he had previously lived and how he came to the Coolspring Power Museum in Coolspring, Pennsylvania, in 1971. His name came from his designer, a young Swedish immigrant named Gustaf Joranson. Part 1 detailed many of Gus’ unique features and designs. Joranson soon found employment in Chicago, Illinois, with another Swedish immigrant, Carl Anderson, who built Gus in his factory, the Carl Anderson Co., along with an undetermined amount of his brothers: Only one other is known to me to survive. And so, the Anderson story unfolds.

Carl Anderson

Carl Anderson was born in Sweden in 1851 to Andus Motenson and Anna Christens. He arrived in the U.S. in 1869 at the age of 18, and soon married. He and his wife had three children, and the first, William Carl Anderson, was born in 1875 in Berrien, Michigan. W.C., as he was called, soon became very involved with his father in the engine business, and later started his own firm. Carl died in 1917 and was buried at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. W.C. continued to prosper building marine engines, naming his firm the Anderson Engine Co. Although it is unclear when engine production ceased, the Anderson Engine Co. was still very active in 1930. W.C. passed away in 1940, and was also buried in Rosehill Cemetery.

Photo 1 shows the Carl Anderson engine, circa 1902. Note the very pleasant lines and proportions. The mechanism on the side is smooth and blends into the overall design very well. The flywheel size is “just right” and complements the engine’s proportions, giving a pleasing appearance. The museum’s Gus, although a vertical, shares the same pleasant design.

The first mention of the Carl Anderson Co. was found in Gardner Hiscox’s 1898 edition of Gas, Gasoline, and Vapor Engines. Unfortunately, there is no illustration or description of the engine. In 1904, the Chicago City Directory noted that the Carl Anderson Co. was located at 25 North Clinton St., Chicago, and Mr. Anderson resided at 237 Wilson Ave.

A 1902 advertisement is shown in Photo 2. Here the Carl Anderson engine is listed as the “GUS” gas and gasoline engine. Note that it is termed “A Model of Perfection.” It appears that the two names, Gus and Anderson, were used interchangeably as this dual usage was found in many references.

Noted in a 1905 issue of The Gas Engine, the Carl Anderson Co. moved into a new and larger shop located at Huron and Kingsbury streets in Chicago. The old shop on North Clinton Street had been destroyed by fire. The firm apparently had no problem financially to rebuild and expand, and continued engine production. Also in 1905, Modern Machinery illustrates a Gus saw rig being demonstrated at a fair, as shown in Photo 3. While all other illustrations and patents of the Gus engine show only hot tube ignition, the information accompanying this photograph mentions electric igniters. It was stated that with both the hot tube ignition and igniter option, the engine was able to operate in any weather. What a great selling point!

The Journal Gazette of Mattoon, Illinois, announced in 1906 that the Carl Anderson engine factory of Chicago would be moved to Shelbyville, Illinois, “as soon as possible” and that Shelbyville’s business association has raised $15,000 to make that possible. Further research reveals the Carl Anderson Co. did not leave Chicago, but W.C. Anderson established his firm, the Anderson Engine Co., in Shelbyville and started to produce marine engines. Also in 1906, the Cycles and Automobile Trade Journal presented a 37-1/2 hp 4-cycle Anderson marine engine, as shown in Photo 4.

Another 1906 article in Motor Boat announced that W.C. Anderson was appointed to organize the Chicago Boat Show. This was a large, weeklong event with makers from all over the country displaying their finest and most modern engines and boats. The Anderson Engine Co. of Shelbyville had an exhibit, as did the Carl Anderson Co. of Chicago. Apparently, father and son could and did work together.

The International Motor Cylopedia of 1908 announced that the Anderson Engine Co. had been incorporated with capital of $30,000. Carl Anderson was president and W.C. Anderson was secretary-treasurer. Listed were branches at 19 East Huron St., Chicago; 82 Warren St., New York City, New York; 420 North Main St., St. Louis, Missouri; and 500 Washington St., Buffalo, New York.

It is interesting to find a 1911 note in Motor Boating stating the Anderson Engine Co. of Shelbyville shipped nine marine engines ranging from 2-1/2 hp to 8 hp to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. They must have done extensive advertising.

Perhaps in response to W.C. Anderson incorporating in 1908, father Carl decided to follow suit. A 1913 issue of Industrial World reported that the Carl Anderson Co. incorporated with a capital of $10,000 and that Carl Anderson would be president, Silas Howe vice president and Enoch Peterson secretary-treasurer. They planned to build gas engines, generators and general machinery.

A 1914 report in Motor Boating said the Anderson Engine Co. of Shelbyville had introduced a new line of heavy duty 4-cycle marine engines. Note the 4-cylinder, 75 hp model shown in Photo 5. The line expanded to building a 150 hp 6-cylinder engine. Motor Boating reported in 1915 that the Anderson Engine Co. was working at full capacity to keep abreast of demand. Their most popular model was a 4-cycle, 4-cylinder 24 hp engine that sold for $660.00.

A 1918 issue of Iron Trade Review sadly announced Carl Anderson’s death in Chicago following a 12-month illness. He was 66. He had a distinguished career as vice president of the Anderson Machine Co. of 4036 North Rockwell St., Chicago, as well as president of the Carl Anderson Co. He was a respected machinist, well known for his ability. And so, the Anderson story comes to a close.

A very interesting article was featured in the December/January 2010 issue of Gas Engine Magazine. Written by Curt Holland, it featured “Big Waldo,” a 15-20 hp horizontal Carl Anderson engine. The engine was purchased by the Waldensians, a conservative religious order that dated from 46 A.D. Persecution in Europe led many of the order to seek a new life in the Americas, and one group settled in Valdese, North Carolina. They used the engine to power their sawmill. When the village was historically restored, the engine was modified a bit to again power the sawmill. The engine can now be seen in operation at the Waldensian Trail of Faith in Valdese, North Carolina. That engine is shown on the opening page.

Paul Harvey is the founder of the Coolspring Power Museum in Coolspring, Pennsylvania. Contact the museum at PO Box 19, Coolspring, PA 15730 • (814) 849-6883