My Research

Bullseye Engine

Courtesy of Dale A. McNaught, Box 184, Victoria, Illinois 61485.

Dale A. McNaught

Content Tools

1211 N. Jefferson, Indianola, Iowa 50125

I would like to add my two cents worth to the gasoline engine controversy started in the November-December 1972 GEM. I read with great interest about the Antique Mechanics Club of University of California, Davis and their Regan Gas Vapor Engine and their Standish Gasoline Engine, both dated from around 1884 to 1889. In my interest of who built the first gasoline engine in the United States, I began my research.

My investigation led me to find much the same information that I found Charles Wendel told about in the Jan.-Feb. GEM. My major reference, 'The American Car Since 1775', by the editors of Automobile Quarterly established that George B. Brayton built his first internal combustion engine in 1864, improving it until he patented it in 1872. By the way, this was the engine that George B. Selden based his patents on for his 1879 horseless carriage that was to cause such a commotion in the early 1900s. Many other patents were granted for internal combustion engines during the 1850s including Dr. Alfred Drake's patent No. 12,715 for his explosive gas engine dated April 17, 1855. How many of these engines were built full size, or are still around may never be known.

At the same time that Dr. Drake was developing his engine, a New Yorker by the name of Stuart Perry built and patented a turpentine fueled internal combustion engine in 1844 and 1846. This was a two cycle vertical engine resembling a steam engine using a pump to force the air vapor mixture into the cylinder. He patented both air and water-cooled engines. The water-cooled engine also lubricated the piston and cylinder.

I recently became interested in gas engines. I found one near my home and bought it. This engine sat outside for 25 years and everything was completely stuck, but now I have all parts movable again.

The guy I purchased it from thought it was a 7-1/2 HP Bullseye Engine made by Montgomery Ward. His dad bought it around 1915. It has a 6' bore, and 32' flywheels with a 2-1/2' rim and an 8' stroke. There is one tag missing. The tag that is remaining says 'Portable Gasoline Engine, 5-15 HP, No. 2752, install and maintain this engine in accordance with underwriters rules. Do not test for leaks with match. Keep engine clean.'

I would like to know more about this engine - the true size, original color, year, make or any other information about it.

On further digging, I found that a Mr. M. Isnard of New York was issued a patent for a very crude internal combustion engine in 1824. Two years later, on April 1, 1826, Samuel Morey of Oxford, New Hampshire. Patented a more refined gas and vapor engine. It was a two cycle, water-cooled explosive engine using 'a mixture of atmospheric air and vapor from common proof spirits' for fuel. These engines are the oldest internal combustion engines built in America that I have found. A model of Morey's 1826 engine is on exhibit in the Long Island Automotive Museum, Southampton, New York.

At this time, I have not found any earlier evidence of the internal combustion engine in the United States, but I have two more years and many more books to look at in the Iowa State University library. If it is any consolation to the students of UCD, I believe that their engines are the oldest original American built engines in the country.

As a final note, I would laso like to commend the students of UCD for their efforts and interest in restoring the Regan Engine. Many of the really old engines in the country have disappeared, but thanks to these students they have one engine that didn't get away. GA-73

The cars include some of the world's most famous, each a masterpiece of craftsmanship and restoration. Most in 'mint' condition, Leake occasionally can be seen driving one of them at full speed down a modern highway.

Leake held his first public auction of automoboiles in June, 1972. Conducted by Sotheby, Park-Bernet of Los Angeles, the auction brought a total of $363,182 for 75 vehicles, making it the nation's largest private automobile auction.

The Oklahoma collector has the distinction of owning what is probably the world's largest private collection of Rolls Royces including six fully restored Silver Ghosts.

Probably the most unique of these destined for 'Wings and Wheels Over Texas' is a 1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, one of the most famous and most photographed cars in the world. Originally built for the Maharajah of Mysore in India, the car was used only on ceremonial occasions.

Leake bought the car at a Sotheby auction in London. Since then Sotheby has declared it an international objet d'art. The car has been appraised at more than $100,000.

Another interesting automobile to be displayed at the Texas museum is a, 1954 Humber Pullman, one of three cars personally owned by Sir Winston Churchill. The car features reading lights in the back seat, extra large ash trays for Churchill's cigars, and large pockets in the doors for extra boxes of cigars. The back seat rolls forward making it easier to get out of the car.

Other cars include an elegant 1934 Packard sedan used as a diplomatic car at the White House from 1934 until Truman's term, and a 1938 Mercedes ordered by Hitler who gave it to Alfried Krupp of the Krupp munitions factory in Germany.

In addition to the rare automobiles and motorcycles featured at the Texas museum, 'several vintage airplanes from the Dolph Overton collection will be displayed. Airplanes on display will date from 1899 to 1928.

'Wings and Wheels Over Texas' will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Shown in this photo are a 30-60 Model E Rumely and a 12-20 Model K. Quite a contrast between the two engines. These tractors are owned and restored by Walter and Norman Schell.