Readers Share News of Their Vintage Gas Engine Collections

Stan Read shares the latest reader news about their vintage gas engine collections.

Alamo Blue Line

Alamo Blue Line Type A, 4 hp 385 rpm, No. 83045, fuel pump is missing.


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Reader news on their vintage gas engine collections. 

News on G.E.M. readers vintage gas engine collections. As I mentioned in the January/February G.E.M., Ron Magnuson, of Good Hope Illinois, pointed out that Alamo and Rock Island Plow Co. engines had a common manufacturer. Now word comes from Carl O. H. Neitzel of Port Orchard, Washington, that he has a 31/2 hp 400 rpm Empire engine No. 55806 sold by Empire Cream Separator Co. of Bloomfield, New Jersey that is practically identical to his 21/2 hp 500 rpm Alamo Blue Line Type A No. 104783, except in size. His Alamo uses a Wico EK mag.

Robert J. B redlow, Ontario, Wise., writes that his 2 hp 580 rpm Rock Island Engine No. 88985 uses a Webster mag. I have a 4 hp, 1911, 385 rpm Alamo Blue Line Type A No. 83045 using the Webster mag. (see the picture in the image gallery) and a 31/2 hp 400 rpm Empire No. 28629 using the Wico EK Mag.

Now to put all this together and frost the cake, Walter C. Hale of Belton, Mo. writes that he has a 2 hp Alamo Blue Line Type A No. 30998 using hammerbreak ignition with kick coil and batteries. While restoring this engine, Mr. Hale contacted Mayor Paul H. Leutheuser of Hillsdale, Michigan, (home of the Alamo engine) who in turn located Mr. Ed Gay, a former employee of many years of the Alamo Company.

Mr. Gay writes: "As near as I can remember this 2 hp engine was built between 1910 & 1914, was painted blue a couple of shades lighter than navy blue. The cylinder & hopper cooler was one casting and the cylinder head was small and painted aluminum. The cyl. head was not a very heavy casting. When shipped from the factory they were bolted to a two inch plank about three feet long and painted the same color as the engine. The ignition was four dry cell batteries in a wooden box fastened to the plank. As far as we can recollect the factory was started in the 1890's and closed around 1932 bankrupt."

During the years of existence they manufactured engines from 1 hp to 140 hp oil burning engines for small for Stover Mfg. Co., of their city when they went out of business in 1942 but that they had no information on Alamo engines. So another puzzle: Who bought the Alamo patterns? Finkbeiner Turner Co., Ziegler-Schryer Mfg. Co., Rawleigh Co. — or were these companies out of the engine business by 1932 too? Or did nearby Rock Island Plow Co. have a hand in this? Can anyone supply any more to this? The Alamo, Rock Island and Empire engines apparently were made simultaneously. Ignition, to the early teens, seems to be kick coil and batteries, then Webster magneto to the early 20's, then Wico EK. Empire engines apparently have their own serial numbers but the other two may have a common numbering system.

R.H. Moore of Grove City, Pa., writes that the Bessemer, Moon, and Gaso-Kero engines were made in Grove City and that Bessemer still makes huge diesel engines and compressors for gas pumping. One Moon brother is still living in Grove City.

Mr. Moore states, "Many of the large engines — 10-15-20 hp are still in every day operation within a 35 mile radius or here, operating oil wells by means of a turntable and tug-lines or jerk-lines which pull a pump jack at a succession of wells one at a time in a great circle and as far as maybe 1/2 mile away from the power house. Most of these engines, Bessemer, Evans, Reid, National Transit, used the hot-tube ignition system because gas was available at the well."

So — if any of you are ever up Grove City way you can see some of these fine old engines in action. Thanks to the many who have written.