Taylor Vacuum Engine

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 Route 1, State Hwy. 103, Oakfield, Wisconsin 53065

Author's Note: Before I begin, I would like to thank the following people for the information they gave me: Mr. H. D. Stephan of the Universal Milking Machine Company; Harold W. Schulze from West Chicago, Illinois who talked to Mr. Taylor before his death in 1977; Ken D. Dawson from Moorhead, Minnesota, who helped in compiling this data for this article; and the many other people who sent in this information to Ken Dawson and myself.

I would also like to point out that due to somewhat less than complete information, some dates and information may be wrong and I will be glad to hear from anyone who can correct me.

Mr. Jack E. Taylor, who founded the company, was born in Adair County, Iowa, on February 15, 1888. At that time, his father was sheriff.

Before 1920, the year the engine was being developed, Mr. Taylor was a salesman for the Universal Milking Machine Company, working in the Elgin, Illinois area.

During that time, Mr. Taylor began to think of a self-contained unit, such as an engine and vacuum pump, as one unit, which would be more compact and convenient with the elimination of the belting of an engine to a vacuum pump. He thought of using a two diameter piston, (which is the principle of the engine). He spoke to an engineer on how to go about this.

Mr. Taylor built his first engine and showed and demonstrated it at the Wisconsin State Fair, (possibly in 1921). Many milking machine companies were interested in the engine for its convenience.

Taylor Supply Company started in 1920, during its years (1920-1937), produced some 14,000 engines. (More about this later.)

Mr. Taylor produced four styles of engines. The first had no designation for these were experimental. Serial numbers 0-5000 were used for these experimental engines. It is doubtful that 5,000 experimental engines were built. So 5,000 was a start for production of sellable engines. To my knowledge, as of this date, none of the experimental engines have been found.

Mr. Taylor had some parts, besides the block made by other companies and assembled them in his Elgin plant. This accounts for the similarity of some parts to other engines, such as the carburetor and flywheels on some Alamo, Economy and Stover engines.

In the beginning he had some parts made by the Challenge Company of Batavia, Illinois, which had the 6-spoke flywheels on the type A style, after which Fairbanks Morse made disc type flywheels and other parts for the later engines.

For most of the years, he had some parts made by the Alamo Company of Hillsdale, Michigan. In about 1935, the Alamo people went out of business and Mr. Taylor then had the parts made by the Stover Company of Freeport, Illinois, until the time he stopped building the engines.

Style A was the first sellable Taylor to come out. These engines had the following traits: serial numbers went from 5000-6999 (APP.). All 'A' types were 2 HP and were spark plug fired through the side of the block. The serial number was stamped on the face of the flywheel, (engine exhaust side) and name tag.

The A style engine came with low spoke flywheels. They could be gotten with two styles of ignition. These were a high tension Webster rotary magneto or battery with coil and timer. These engines had no governor and speed was controlled by gas supply and vacuum. They had a minimum speed of 275 RPM with a maximum speed of 400 RPM. They came with water cooled heads and cast iron gas tanks. The first A's had one oiler in the water hopper, later the A's came with two oilers, (one in hopper, one on vacuum cylinder).

The Taylor engine had a piston with two different diameters. The gas engine part of the piston is 3? O.D. and the vacuum end is 53/8' O.D. (APP.). On the style A, the ring configuration is 4 rings on the engine piston and 2 on the vacuum.

The vacuum is accomplished by two valves connected to the vacuum chamber, one on either side on the block. One is for the purpose of intake from the vacuum line and the other is the exhaust for the vacuum cylinder.

The style A engines were recalled by the company because of faulty lubrication, ignition and cooling problems. There are still a few style A engines around, so recall wasn't perfect.

Many owners wondered how the engine piston was lubricated. It was found that the oiler in the hopper on the style A sometimes caused the vacuum valves to leak due to excessive amounts of oil.

It was later suggested a small amount of Maytag oil be mixed with the gas before putting it in the tank. This helped some in the lubrication of the piston. But if the valves and cylinder above the piston were not cleaned every so often, cylinder wear would result, thus ending the engine's life.

Now these engines were replaced with the type B engine, serial numbers went from 7000 to 10,500 (App.), 1? HP, max. 480 RPM. The very first B's had a Webster magneto for ignition, but soon dropped it; replacing it with the Wico EK magneto, they also offered the Wico set up as a replacement to other previous engine buyers for $8.00 in 1925, also the battery and coil systems with timer could be obtained. All were of the hit and miss flyball governed type with air cooled head and sheet metal gas tanks. The 'B' engine came with dish, solid, and 6 spoke flywheels.

The engines Taylor built had an open base or leg-type base, which was called a broken base engine. He had this engine put under a stress test by a company in Chicago. The engine proved to be too light in weight and slightly weak, so he then changed to a fully enclosed base.

The next and final style was type C. The engine is a 2 HP engine only with a closed base. Serial numbers went from 10,500 to 18,000 (App.) and then jumped to 50,000. It is hard to say if any engines were made in between as base casting dates for 18,000 and 50,000 engines were only a year or so apart. The date of manufacture is on the bottom right hand side of block. Besides the name tag, the serial number is also stamped on the block (governor side). Many of the features of the type B engine were kept on the C type. All C's came with air cooled heads and sheet metal gas tanks, and one oiler on vacuum cylinder. This engine came with Wico EK magneto and hit and miss governor only. They came with six-spoke, solid with round holes and teardrop shaped holes in flywheels.

Both B's and C's have one ring on vacuum; three on engine piston.

During the entire production of Taylor engines all engines were spark plug ignition.

For the first four years of production he sold all of his engines through other companies. Mr. Taylor produced his engines for his former employer and co-backer Universal Milking Company, Albert Lea, Minnesota, and later through other companies like the Pine Tree Milking Machine Company, which is now Surge. They were repainted and distributed by the Empire Milking Machine Company; The Panhandle Milking Machine and Supply Company in Texas; The Gascotgne Milking Machine Company of Reading, Berkshire, England; Clarke and Faucet of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and Agar Cross and Company, Ltd., Buenos Airs, Argentina-to mention a few.

It might be noted that Universal Company sold some 8,000 engines before sales stopped in 1931 due to the depression.

Mr. Taylor stopped building engines in 1937 when, he said, electricity put him out of business, with the electric motor gaining popularity.

Mr. Taylor, a very enterprising man, then went on to develop a way to bottle carbon dioxide gas.

He had designed several steer feeder barns for confined feeding on his farms. This farming operation was very successful.

Mr. Taylor also owned the Elgin Syringe Company, which made throwaway plastic medical syringes to be used in hospitals, etc.

Mr. Jack E. Taylor died in February, 1977.

If readers find mistakes or can add information, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.