Vermont-Made Engines

Gray Line threshing machine

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RR#1, Cabot, Vermont 05647

I have done some research on Vermont engine companies mostly Abenaque and A. W. Gray. There were three or four other companies that actually manufactured engines and others that simply put their tag on someone else's engine.

Let me give a brief history of the A. W. Gray Co. I am using information from the 1953-54 winter issue of Vermont Life magazine and several of the company catalogs from different years which I have.

The founder, Albert W. Gray, was born in Dorset, Vermont in 1810. His first invention was a corn sheller in 1836, for which he received a patent. In 1844 he invented and patented a tread horse power which was recognized as the best of its kind in the world.

The company was started in 1840 and named the A. W. Gray Horse Power Company. Gray's sons got into the company and in 1875, A. W. disposed of his interests in the company because of ill health. From that time until 1912 or 13 the company was known as A. W. Gray's Sons.

Around this time the hopper cooled engine appeared. After this time they were called the 'Gray Line.' The engine was patented October 3, 1905 and the first were gearless, known by the 'old timers' in the area as the 'cross-over-cam'.

1907 models as well as the earlier gearless engines were equipped with the Goodson igniter and plug. 1908 models were equipped with battery and coil ignitors as were the rest including the later hopper cooled models.

The Gray Co. went out of business in 1917 but the line was continued for a few years by other interests.

I have one of the Gray Line threshing machines dated 1920. I can see no difference from the earlier ones except that around 1900 the colors were changed from blue to red and the striping was much more plain. On the older machines there was more striping and beautiful decorative painting done by an older man with one arm. A few of these are still in existence.

According to my catalogs the engines were made in sizes from 3 HP to 25 HP but I do have an original 2 HP name tag. I now have two A. W. Gray tank cooled engines, a 6 HP and a 10 HP, 1908 models.

About 8 miles from the Middle-town factory was the Ruggles foundry in Poultney, Vermont, where all A. W. Gray castings and engines were made, as were the Ruggles engines which were identical to the Gray except for the name tag. There was also a 'Rugby' engine sold by Stoddard Manufacturing of Rutland, Vermont, which was identical and undoubtedly made by Ruggles. A few of the A. W. Gray and Ruggles engines exist but as far as I know only an advertisement of the Rugby.

Pictured is my 6 HP Ruggles, one of three of this size known to exist. This one came from the factory with a 'Motsinger auto sparker.' All A. W. Gray and Ruggles engines had adjustable connecting rods and clutch pulleys with parts cast with the flywheel.

One of the Vermont companies that did make their own engines was St. Albans Foundry and Implement Manufacturing, St. Albans, Vermont. I know very little about this company but do know they were an old company and manufactured horse powers, dog powers, drag saws, threshing machines, etc. Pictured is my 5 HP St. Albans. Judging from the design, I'm sure it's from around 1900. It has a wide wish-bone open crank much like the early 'Olds', and the flywheels are 28' x 3' and very heavy. I believe it to be the only one in existence.

Pictured also is a 2 HP Abenaque, the smallest of the Abenaques and the only one with a vertical cooling tank. This is a very heavy engine for a 2 HP. The flywheels are 28' x 25/8'. It is a side shaft with round ball governor and spark-wheel ignition.