The RAWLEIGH Gas Engine Company

Rawleigh-Schryer factory

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305 E. Hartford Ave., Uxbridge, MA 01569

The addition of a not too common gas engine to a collection can be a very exciting and fulfilling experience. But beware, because along with the excitement one will often experience another inherent characteristic, total frustration!

Being of a very stubborn nature, my own experience with a Rawleigh-Schryer has led me down a never ending trail of paper, envelopes and postage stamps. After a two year search, I have what I consider to be a very brief outline of a long overdue company history.

The company, always based in Freeport, Illinois, started its life as the Freeport Gas Engine and Windmill Company. The original incorporation date is noted to have been June 10, 1909. One must wonder as to the actual number of engines produced under that company name, for on August 25, 1909, a scant seventy-six days later, the name was changed to the Zieglar-Schryer Manufacturing Co. The original incorporators of the company were listed as Oscar J. Zieglar, Roy M. Bennethum, Fred L. Kobow, Carl K. Swartz, Jr., Edward A. Mensenkamp., and Paul F. Schryer.

In a transaction that took place sometime during 19.11, Roy M. Bennethum, a major stockholder, sold his stock to Mr. W. T. Rawleigh. After some bold financial maneuvers by Mr. Rawleigh on December 2, 1912, the company would take on the name of the Rawleigh-Schryer Engine Company.

With the W. T. Rawleigh bankroll, accumulated through the successful business of factory-to-farm home remedies and household products, along with the brilliant engineering background of Paul F. Schryer, the company enjoyed some three and one half years of success.

Among Paul F. Schryer's rather impressive list of credentials, was noted that in 1884, he assisted in the design of the first successful gasoline engine in the world. He was also responsible for assisting in the design of many of the more popular engines of the early nineteen hundreds. One company indebted to Schryer for its successful engine design was the Stover Engine Co. also of Freeport, Illinois. Mr. Schryer's most noted accomplishments though, were the design of the first packingless fuel pump as well as the system of operating the fuel pump, igniter and exhaust valve with only one push rod and a single cam.

The Rawleigh-Schryer factory was located on a six-acre tract of land at Taylor Avenue in Freeport, Illinois. The company boasted of capital and resources of one hundred thousand dollars, a machine shop of some eighty feet by one hundred and eighty feet in size, a complete foundry and private railroad sidings. The buildings were fabricated of the most modern concrete, fire proof construction materials available for that time period. It seems somehow sad and certainly ironic that the company would be destroyed by fire.

The success of the company was attributed to its five point plan of superiority. The five were: simplicity, surplus power, ease of operation, balance, and reliability.

Its engine line consisted of hopper cooled engines in 1 2, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 horsepower. All were available with a full cast iron base, which also doubled as a fuel tank. Able to burn gasoline, natural gas, or distillate, the line of hopper cooled engines (with addition of the base) were massive. The 2 HP model boasted twenty-seven inch flywheels and a shipping weight of six hundred and thirty pounds.

Screen cooled engines were another feature of the company and were available in 6,8, 10,12,16,18, 22 and 25 horsepower. The 25 horsepower engine, mounted on an all steel steel truck, weighed in at 5800 pounds! Mounting of both hopper cooled and screen cooled engines was accomplished by means of a semi-portable rig in the 1 HP size to a fully portable rig that could be ordered with any size hopper or screen cooled engine, including the 5800-pound giant. A complete wood buzzing outfit was available in the 4, 6, and 8 horsepower sizes.

The engines were of the hit and miss design, and the make and break igniter could be sparked by battery and coil or by a magneto driven by a friction pulley running in contact with the flywheel. The Webster oscillating magneto would be a later option available to customers for an additional $7.95. As noted in a 1915 Rawleigh Almanac, engine color was a dark brown with pinstriping of the hopper sides and flywheel spokes in a reddish color. The outer narrow edge of the flywheels were left in an unpainted state to achieve a two-tone effect.

The boasts of the company as to the superior quality of metals as well as the low wear factor, due to high excellence of design, can be attested to by the present day caretakers of these truly outstanding examples of early day technology.