The Quincy All Purpose Farm Engine

Elmer and Carl Becker

Elmer and Carl Becker.

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Box 4 Ursa, Illinois 62376

In the past few years, I have been researching the Quincy all purpose farm engine that was built at 714-716 York St., Quincy, Illinois.

Mr. Carl Becker was born November 27, 1860 in Rhine Pfalz, Germany. He came to America in 1877.

When he was 23, he learned the machinist's trade. He located in Warsaw, Illinois first, where he operated an engine for two years.

Mr. Becker was married in October of 1885 to Miss Lizzie Heddrich, a daughter of Phillip Heddrich, who was a stone cutter. The Beckers were the parents of two sons, Walter and Elmer.

In 1885, he moved to Quincy and worked for Hay Press Works for three years, Collins Plow Co. for three years, and Smith Hill Elevator Co. for four years. In 1898, he organized the Weibmer-Becker Machine Co. Carl and his partner, Anton Weibmer, had a plant at Seventh and York and had fourteen men working for them.

The Weibmer-Becker Machine Shop worked on steam engines, automobile engines, and gas engines of all kinds. Thirteen years later, as the direct result of the large amount of repair work on gasoline engines that came into his shop, he realized that a better-designed gas engine was needed.

In about 1911, the Quincy Motor Co. was formed. All of the stockholders were residents of the city of Quincy. The board of directors consisted of one businessman, one traveling salesman, one automobile expert, one expert machinist, 'Carl', and one general engineer, being Jack Weisenborn, the designer, along with Carl. They had a full paid-up capital stock of seven thousand dollars for doing business. Some attention was given to build a marine engine, because Quincy was located on the Mississippi River. The Quincy all-purpose farm engine was designed. With the great demand for farm engines at that time, the market was flooded with a large number of hastily-designed engines. The manufacturers were able to sell almost anything that went by the name of gasoline engine, no matter what its mechanical imperfections were. It was determined that an efficient, lightweight 3 HP engine would fit the farmer's needs for all of his various kinds of work. Many farmers found it was not necessary to purchase two or three engines if they purchased a Quincy engine.

The engine was equipped with the best carburetor to be found, a Schebler. Some cheap competitive engines were equipped with a so-called mixing valve, which sometimes worked, but not the Quincy. A Schebler was the best. The ignition was a spark plug and battery jump spark system, not the ignitor that was troublesome and had to be cleaned.

It was equipped with a gravity feed gas tank so the fuel system wouldn't have trouble with a fuel pump. The governor was a fast responding design to maintain the speed when carrying a load. The governor was designed after the steam engine, automatically increasing or decreasing the gas flow and not the spark.

Lubrication on all bearings was a high grade automatic spring fed grease cup. The only time that you needed to lubricate the engine was when you started it each day.

With many engines the cylinder is made too short, so that the piston runs1/3 of the way out of the cylinder. This leaves the piston exposed to weather and open to collecting dirt, grit, and rust which, when the engine is started, would be drawn into the cylinder and scoring was bound to happen. On the Quincy engine, no part of the piston runs out of the cylinder at any time. The oil tube is so arranged that it is always directly over some part of the piston. The cylinder, cylinder head and hopper are separate castings, so each casting could be replaced at low cost. The farmer could purchase one casting and not have to buy a whole new engine. The flywheels are perfectly balanced and they are fitted with split hubs, two clamping bolts and a straight key, allowing the flywheel to be removed, if necessary, by a monkey wrench. The driving pulley centers over the hub and is held in place by three bolts. A large pulley for higher speed centers over the rim of the small pulley and is also held in place by three bolts; thus it is unnecessary to remove the small pulley when you want to use the larger pulley. The piston on this engine has four rings, assuring high compression.

The piston pin is hollow and hardened and is held in place by set screws locked by cotter pins. The upper end of the connecting rod is bronze bushed. The crank shaft is drop forged steel, the connecting rod crank bearing 15/8' x 2', and the main bearings are 31/4' x 19/16'. The bearings are adjusted with metal shims and will not work loose, as will the pasteboard ones that are used on many engines. The main bearings are set at an angle such as you will find on the best steam engines. The muffler is a regular automobile one, which reduces the noise to a minimum. The gas tank is made of galvanized steel and is held in position by two cast iron supports. The battery box containing six high grade batteries is placed between the skids beneath the tank.  

Every engine was tested while running under a full load before it left the factory. All parts on the Quincy engine were manufactured from special jig patterns so a good supply was on hand and parts could be replaced without delay.

Some time in the 20's, a 6 HP engine was designed and sold. It was lightweight, with a tin water hopper. It could be purchased with a Wico E.K. magneto setup.

The business was passed down to Carl's son, Elmer Becker, who was born March 4, 1895 in Quincy. In about 1935 they stopped manufacturing engines. The parts supply and repair of engines went on, and machine work as well, until about 1955, when it closed.

According to Elmer's son, Ronald, who still resides in Quincy, Carl Becker passed away February 15, 1946, and Elmer died October 22, 1965, both in Quincy.

I talked to Mr. Schutte, who bought out the shop and moved the machines to his own machine shop. He said all of the parts went to the junkyard, and wooden patterns went to a big ditch south of Quincy. No records are left, and all I have found so far is a photocopy of a sixteen page sales brochure dated 1915 on the 3 HP all purpose farm engine, and an advertisement in 'Farmers and Breeders of Adams County,' a one page brochure printed some time later on the 3 HP and the 6 HP engine with Wico mag, skids or truck, prices and shipping weights, etc.

The grandson, Ronald, came up with the old photos of his grandfather and father standing in front of the shop. A big thanks for all his help.

The Quincy Engine was distributed locally and not many have been found yet. Only eight engines have been found so far. I have started a list of all the Quincy engines that are left. I would like to hear from anyone that has a Quincy, Illinois engine or any literature on them.

The start of this whole story is that this is the year for the Adams County Fair's 50th year reunion. We have formed a new club to put on a big show July 26 through 30, 1991. We are featuring the Quincy gas engine built in Quincy, Illinois. We are happy to keep this part of history going.