Larry Jorgenson, 103 East 2nd Street, Blair, Wisconsin 54616
This is the story of how our 12 HP twin cylinder gasoline engine manufactured by La Crosse Plow and Tractor Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin was acquired.
I was at a community auction trying to buy some of the gas engines offered for sale, but all brought very high prices - too rich for dad and me - so we felt kind of blue. Apparently a farmer had been watching us because he came up to us and said he had a twin cylinder 12 HP gas engine that hadn't run for 20 years; but it was ail there and he would like to see us restore it. He offered it to us for a very reasonable price. We left the auction and followed the farmer home. We brushed off the weeds, etc. and there lay the La Crosse 12 Hp engine.
We closed the deal and set out for my cousin's two ton truck. Armed with jacks, cables, ropes and a come-along, we returned to the farmer and after a couple of unsuccessful tries, we got the engine on the truck. I made the comment to the farmer that I bet there wasn't another one left in the midwest. He told me there was another one at a neighbor that was sitting on a saw rig in a shed. With the one engine loaded, we went to the farm with the reported second La Crosse engine. We found it just as it was supposed to be. We bought it for the same price as the first engine - loaded it and went home with two tons of rusty case made between 1906 and 1909. All this happened in 1966. It took 10 years of part time labor to get the two engines in restored condition. Both now are identical twins. Engines were in good shape. One engine has the original Atwater Kent distributor patented 1903, the other has a 1928 Chev. distributor. Both had battery boxes that held 6 dry cells. I replaced the dry cells with a 6 volt battery, I have the original battery boxes. Both engines had to be re-flued, as the 4 push rods and throttle lever go through the water hopper.
Both engines have been mounted on narrowed Model T Ford frames. The wheels are from a local woolen mill - they once were under two large upright engines and were used only to unload the engines from the railroad cars to the basement of the mill. They then were stored for over 60 years. They were given to me as the mill was being torn down to make way for a new highway. Both large uprights were smashed and donated to World War II. The screen coolers were rebuilt by Herried Bros. Hardware Store in Blair, Wisconsin. The circulating pumps were missing and the screen coolers had been replaced with milk cans. We used Maytag pumps, as they were the right size and when painted they look like the original. Both are painted dark green with red flywheels - yellow lettering with yellow ? inch pinstripe, lined with 1/16 inch black stripe. Allis Chalmers was very helpful in restoring this engine as they acquired the La Crosse Company in 1914.
The engines have no numbers or ID plates on them - only a difference in the plumbing, which we think means one was built before 1908, the other after. We would like to hear from anyone who has similar engines. In addition to the two La Crosse engines, we have close to 50 other engines restored. Good parttime hobby. Stop in and see us if you're in the area.