REPRINT: HOW Your Hobby Started Part VII

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This month we conclude reprinting a series that first appeared in GEM in the March-April 1969 issue. We are now at installment 7, the final segment, which appeared in the March-April 1970 GEM, and was written by Carleton M. Mull.

The brief histories of several of the successful gasoline engine manufacturers, as was mentioned in the last issue, causes one to wonder about all of the other builders who started in production of engines as are mentioned in several of the old books on this subject. Before 1910, there are records regarding the industry giving statistics on more than five hundred manufacturers of gasoline engines. How many more who attempted to get into the business is hard to surmise. We are considering only the stationary type of heavy duty engines and not those for automotive application. By the end of 1935, it is quite doubtful if there were more than twenty manufacturing companies left who had weathered the storm of competition.

Of the five hundred, the majority were located in the central states, such as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. There were approximately two hundred and ninety companies building engines in these six states. The industry was nationwide. There were about two hundred and twenty manufacturers on the East Coast, with the largest concentration in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. There were a few companies in the South and quite a number in California. A tabulation indicates the following distribution of the sources of manufacturers in 1905:

Eastern States...............219 companies

Middle West States......289 companies

Southern States................7 companies

Western States...............25 companies

Total.............................540 companies

For those collectors who are searching for rare antique engines, here is a tabulation of the number of gasoline engine manufacturers during the first decade of 1900:


# of Manufacturers 1900-1920





























New Hampshire


New Jersey


New York






Rhode Island












West Virginia




J. I. Case Company has long been a leading supplier of power equipment for many applications throughout the world. The company was founded in 1842 at Rochester, Wisconsin, by Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891). Mr. Case first developed improvements in threshing machinery and added the manufacturer of tread powers and sweep powers to furnish power for threshing.

In 1869, the first Case steam engine was developed; an engine on wheels, but drawn by horses and used only for belt power. In 1876, the first Case steam traction engine was developed and eight years later a steering method was added to make the units mobile.

In 1892, Mr. J. W. Raymond obtained his first patent for a vertical enclosed type gasoline engine with a rotary valve. After a number of developments and upon receipt of five patents, he licensed the manufacture of this unique design to J. I. Case Company.

The engine had many noteworthy features. The crankcase was enclosed with large hand-holes through which the bearings could be adjusted. The cylinders were made in single and two cylinder blocks. They were arranged to bolt to the crankcase to form either a single cylinder, two cylinder or four cylinder units. Cylinder heads were cast separately with water jackets. The head was designed with the combustion chamber, rotary valves, starter and inlet and exhaust ports. The rotary valves were operated by spur gear from the crankshaft and held on the seat by a special spring. A flywheel type governor was employed. Carburetion was by a vaporizer. A detonator was used to start the engine. This device was undoubtedly similar to the same type of starters used by competitors, however, each company claimed patent protection. A detonator is a fitting screwed into the cylinder head in which a 'parlor match' was placedthen a cap was screwed in place which contained a plunger. The plunger of the detonator was struck by a hammer which made the match ignite within the cylinder head causing the fuel mixture to explode in the combustion space, forcing the piston forward on the initial stroke, thus starting the engine.

Electric ignitors were used for the ignition system on the Raymond engines and were of the removable electrode type with batteries and coil to furnish the electric energy. The governor was of the flyball type and regulated these engines to operate at a constant speed for electrical generation applications.

The closed crankcase housed the lubricating oil reservoir. A splash system was employed for the main and connecting rod bearings, while the crosshead or wrist pin bearings were lubricated by a pump connected to the connecting rods. The company further recommended the 'Zero Test Black Mineral Oil'a product of the Standard Oil Companybe used in their engines.

The single cylinder 'Style S' engines were built in sizes from 1 HP to 20 HP operating at speeds of 400 rpm in small units and 300 rpm for the 20 HP.

The two cylinder 'Style D' units were built in sizes of 4 HP to 50 HP at rpm of 360 to 310. The four cylinder 'Style Q' engines were rated at 60 HP at 330 rpm, 85 HP at 325 rpm and 100 HP at 320 rpm. Weights ranged from 600 pounds for the small machine to 14,670 pounds for the 100 HP.

These engines were sold for stationary power units and electric generating plants. They developed a gas tractor in 1892 much in appearance like the steam engine but not commercially successful due to lack of proper ignition and carburetion.

It might be of interest to mention here the well known trademark of J. I. Case Company, 'Old Abe,' the Case Eagle. In 1861, the Chippewas captured a young eaglet and took it to Jim Falls, Wisconsin. It was too young to fly so they traded it for a bushel of corn. Daniel McCann, the new owner, soon learned the bird was hard to raise so he sold it to Company 'C' of the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment, for a mascot. It was named 'Old Abe' after their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln. It went through thirty-eight battles and won equal respects of the men on both sides as one of the brave and courageous fighters.

After the war, 'Old Abe' appeared in many parades and reviews and received the cheers of the nation. His last appearance was in 1880 at a great reunion of veterans in Milwaukee where he shared the platform with General Grant. He died a year later as a result of a fire in the Capitol building.

Mr.Case first saw the bird in 1861 at Eau Claire. He learned of the story of the bird and determined to have 'Old Abe' as the symbol of his business as soon as the unhappy war was over. In 1865 'Old Abe' began his career as the most famous bird in agricultural history as the trademark of the J.I. Case Company.

Cyrus W. Baldwin of Chicago was issued a patent in 1883 for an interesting gasoline engine. The unusual horizontal arrangement of the cylinder and crank comprised the basic machine. It departed from the general appearance of most engines by employing a compression cylinder alongside of the power cylinder. Also, a departure from the usual location of the exhaust valve, as it was placed in the head of the piston. It was operated by a pitman on the connecting rod.

The compression cylinder, operated from an eccentric on the crankshaft, had a short stroke and a large area to force a charge of air and fuel into the combustion space of the power cylinder.

There was an arrangement of three levers on the engine to stop it at a pre-determined location on the power piston in order that the cylinder would be charged with fuel for ease of starting. The fuel was ignited by a gas jet flame.

Patents were issued to George Westinghouse and Edwin Rund of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1887 covering an electric ignitor for gas engines. This ignitor was of the plug oscillator type which would be fitted into the cylinder head or wall of an engine. This ignitor was built for single or multiple cylinder engines which this company manufactured in large vertical units.

Westinghouse gasoline engines ranged in large sizes suitable for electric generating stations. They were both horizontal and vertical four cycle machines, also in double acting and single and cross tandem modifications in sizes from 400 to 2000 HP.

The Lozier Motor Company of Plattsburg, New York, built some of the finest automobiles in our country in 1910. Harry Lozier was a bicycle builder and had developed small two cycle marine engines. The type 'A' was 3 HP and type 'B' of 5 HP, and a 7 HP was type 'C.' They were of the two part design with a throttle valve in the crankcase to cylinder by-pass, which permitted much improved speed control over the normal two cycle engine. A chain-driven gear pump provided direct engine cooling water. A make and break ignitor was offered on the early models and later changed to the conventional spark plug with a coil and batteries.

Another gasoline engine manufacturer to gain prominence in this period was the Foos Gas Engine Company of Springfield, Ohio. Their type 'S' horizontal single cylinder stationary engine was well designed and built to give good performance. A slow speed, open crankcase design with heavy flywheels and balanced crankshaft offered the user a smooth operating source of power. Ignition was by low tension oscillating magneto and a plug oscillator ignitor. A large mixing valve permitted the use of most available fuels and lubrication was by drip cup oilers.

Foos engines were available from 8 to 60 HP in the horizontal stationary slow speed construction. Later the company developed a number of vertical cylinder models. Type 'T' engine was built in sizes ranging from 20 to 300 HP at speeds of 400 to 900 rpm using gasoline, kerosene or gas and in sizes from 2 to 8 cylinders. Their type 'V' vertical multi-cylinder engines were designed especially for gas fuels in sizes of 50 to 325 HP. Later they offered type 'R' which was a heavy duty vertical engine employing a low pressure fuel injection system, which in the trade terminology would be considered a diesel engine. These models were started cold by compressed air and were built in sizes for 30 to 400 HP.

One of America's great industrial companies had its origin on a farm in Virginia. Cyrus Hall McCormick was born February 15, 1809, three days after the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The McCormicks were prosperous farmers with a blacksmith shop and were inclined toward improving the early methods of farming.

Robert, the senior McCormick, conceived the idea of the mechanical grain harvester or reaper, but he was never able to perfect a successful machine and gave up the project. Cyrus, who had followed his father's endeavors through his childhood, took over the responsibility and in 1831 gave his first demonstration by cutting six acres of oats in one day. Four horses pulled the machine, which was a noisy contraption and his neighbors felt it would never come to much. It was laid aside for a time, as he had obtained a patent on it in 1834.

The family, along with nearly everyone, lost a great deal in the crash of 1837. With the loss of their property, Cyrus again turned to the reaper in hopes of perfecting it so that it could be manufactured and sold to the farmers to help harvest the crops on the ever increasing grain acreage.

The first few machines he built were proving their worth and soon he found a big market for them in the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In 1847 he moved to Chicago where financial aid helped him build his first factory. In one decade his production increased to over 20,000 machines a year and his financial success was secured.

As is usually the case when such a man is successful, there are many other companies who are trying to build the same kind of equipment. Consequently, there were many lawsuits for attempted infringements on his patents. McCormick fought them all with the aid of many prominent attorneys of that period and emerged as a winner protecting his rights. As a result of all these legal maneuvers the McCormicks had many competitors who were real enemies in a battle for the reaper and other agricultural machinery business. When Cyrus Hall McCormick II took over the company, he called in their competitors and discussed the antagonistic situation that existed in the trade and pointed out that such policies were not conducive to good business and suggested that they work together to remove the bitterness. In 1902, young McCormick was successful in getting the competitors to lay aside their differences, with the result that they joined together to form a new corporation: The International Harvester Company.

Such a combination of interests produced a company having many kinds of farm implements and machinery to offer the farmer and rancher under one company warranty.

So, after a long and interesting family career of three generations, we come to the topic of our history of the gasoline engine. Power was required for many applications, both in the stationary and portable field in agricultural machinery. It was only natural for IHC to have gasoline engines for sale as one of their many products.

In the spring of 1904, IHC started building gasoline engines at their Milwaukee Works. The first model was a horizontal unit common of the general design of that period rated at 15 HP with double flywheels and a flywheel governor. It was very substantially built, with open crankcase and a lay shaft along the governor side to operate the fuel pump and valves. Ignition was by make and break ignitor through the water cooled head.

Shortly after marketing of the 15 HP unit, they developed engines rated at 6, 8 and 10 HP during that same year. During 1905 they followed with the famous single cylinder vertical model in 2, 3, and 5 HP ratings. These were the work horses around the house and barn: pumping water, washing clothes, churning butter, grinding corn and thousand (more or less) other chores.

Of the many engineers who made up the engineering department of the IHC and who designed and developed this line of engines was George H. Ellis. Mr. Ellis worked to design a lightweight engine that would be suitable for portable applications on agricultural machinery. He developed a two cylinder vertical engine that produced 6 HP and weighed only seventy pounds. Many of these small engines were built by IHC with very good acceptance.

By 1908, IHC engines were available in vertical units rated at 2, 3 and 25 HP. Horizontal was available in both stationary and portable engines rated at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15 and 20 HP sizes. An air cooled model was rated at 1 and 2 HP.

Many advanced models of both gasoline and diesel engines were added to their line through the years for power for electric generating plants, as well as tractors and large earth moving machines as demanded by the needs of contractors and farmers in all fields one of the great success stories of American Industry.