4 HP Ohio gas engine

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(Editor's note: The 4 HP Ohio Motor Company engine pictured on our cover is owned by Keith and Jeanne Monnier of 18400 Sidney-Plattsville Rd., Sidney, Ohio 45365. What follows is their story of the restoration work on the engine and a history of the Ohio Motor Company, which they have compiled for our readers.)

Our 'Ohio' Engine

Early last winter we acquired our own 4 HP Ohio Motor Company engine. This engine was made in Sandusky, Ohio and sold to the Amherst Motor Company of Amherst, Nova Scotia for marketing. The engine had been used in Brunswick, Canada to pump water; it was always shedded in the pump house.

The engine was in pretty good condition with all the parts intact except for drip oilers, gasoline tank, and water tank. Restoration began in March of 1981; we finished restoring the engine last in August, 1981. The engine was completely dismantled except for removing the flywheels from the crankshaft. All castings were sanded down to the bare metal, then brushed with six coats of rusty metal primer number 7769 as the base primer. These were wet sanded, followed by two coats of sprayed primer, then wet sanded with 400 grit wet or dry paper. The finish paint color selected was Sherwin-Williams Maroon number F65 Ml Kem-Lustral Enamel. The finish surface received five coats of this sprayed on. Parts that were machine finished originally were polished and nickel plated. All original brass parts were polished. New gasoline and water tanks were made. Original steel pipe for gasoline and water lines was changed to polished red brass pipe. The engine was pinstriped in yellow.

Nearly all the bugs have been worked out of it for smooth operation, and we hope to show it at several shows in the Midwest.

The history of the Ohio Motor Co. is an interesting one. What follows is the basic story, gathered from several sources. The first listings came from the Sandusky City Guide Directory.

First listing 1898-1899: Underwood Motor Co. (The)- Incorporated May 24, 1897, with capital stock of $10,000. Henry C. Strong was President; R. E. Schuck, Vice President; G. F. Anderson, Secretary; James Flynn, Treasurer; and Albert Schwehr, the Manager. The company location was 232 Columbus Avenue.

First listing as the Ohio Motor Co. 1902:03: Ohio Motor Co. (The)- Incorporated May 24, 1897, with capital stock of $25,000. The offices of President and Treasurer, held by Henry Strong, were combined; G. Schwehr became Secretary; and the new location was the northeast corner of Perry and Water Streets.

Second listing 1915: Henry Strong was again the President, W. H. Spencer Strong became the Vice President and Treasurer, and Albert Schwer the Secretary.

Last listing 1919-1920: Ohio Motor Co. (The)-Incorporated May 24, 1897, with capital stock of $100,000. A president was not listed, but W. H. Spencer Strong remained the Vice President and Treasurer. E. T. Fox was listed as the Secretary, and the Perry and Water Streets location was maintained.

The following information is from the Sandusky Register Star News Twin Anniversary Edition of Tuesday, November 25, 1947:

'Back in 1896, there were few gas or gasoline engines that would run at all, and none that were dependable. Along about this time, a traveling man stopped at the Sloane House. He was riding a contraption that attracted a great deal of attention. It was an ordinary 'safety' bicycle to which he had attached a sort of gasoline motor that, once in a while, would run. The device attracted the attention of George A. Schwer, then the 22-year-old clerk at the hotel, and he showed it to his father, Albert Schwer, an old-time master mechanic. Father and son became interested in the possibilities of the internal combustion engine. They started to develop an engine that would deliver steady, dependable power. Their first shop was in a former fish house, located where Brown's Inc., now operated an outside boat storage yard, on E. Railroad St.

'The following year, 1897, the new gasoline engine was ready for the market, and Albert Schwer, George A. Schwer, Henry C. Strong, Cornelius E. Neilson, and Randolph Schunk formed the Ohio Motor Co. to manufacture them. A site was acquired, at the southeast corner of E. Water and Perry Streets. Some frame buildings, formerly part of the Hodgman sawmill, once located where the Lyman Boat Works now stands, were moved to the new location.

'Henry C. Strong became president, George A. Schwer, vice-president and manager, and Albert Schwer, general superintendent. Later, Wm. H. Spencer Strong became associated with the new industry as secretary and treasurer.

'At first, only marine engines were manufactured, together with a few stationary models. One or two of these ancient power plants are still operating craft on Lake Erie. After the first few years, the marine engines were discontinued, and thereafter stationary engines were the sole product. These were produced in a dozen sizes, ranging from four to 50 horse power. A few were mounted on steel chassis, so they could be moved about from place to place, for example, on farms.

'The industry continued to prosper until the advent of the automobile era, shortly before World War I. The company was contemplating setting aside funds for the development of an engine suitable for automotive purposes. However a number of factors, including the failure of a Pittsburgh company that owned the local plant a very large sum of money, intervened to prevent this branch out of business. The company even played around with airplane engines in World War I days. Some of the marine engines are still in operation but the airplane engines never got out of the experimental stage'.