Coolspring Spotlight: 1893 10 hp White & Middleton

This 1893 10 hp White & Middleton engine has some unusual features, including an oiler designed to shut off when the engine shuts off.

White & Middleton engine

The 1893 10 hp White & Middleton on display at the Coolspring Power Museum.

Photo courtesy the Gas Engine Magazine staff

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Manufacturer: White & Middleton Gas Engine Co., Baltimore, MD
Serial number: 146
Horsepower: 10 hp
Bore & stroke: 6-1/2in x 16in
Ignition: Hot tube
Governing: Hit-and-miss
Owner: David Deardorf

This is an 1893 10 hp White & Middleton gas engine. Founded by Charles White and Arthur R. Middleton, the White & Middleton Gas Engine Co. introduced a line of high-grade engines in 1889. Available styles included horizontal and vertical stationary models up to 60 hp and 4-stroke cycle marine engines also up to 60 hp. Reorganized in 1911 as the Charles White Gas Engine Co., engine production continued until about 1915. “They were one of the early companies in that business and were very successful,” says Clark Colby. “They had a good, simple reliable design, had good castings, good workmanship and sold many engines.”


This particular engine was made in 1893 and is a little bit different from the later engines. This engine has a centrifugal governor driven off the camshaft that controls the pushrod that operates both the fuel admission valve and exhaust valve. It has an automatic intake valve, as well as an auxiliary check valve and cylinder port to help get the exhaust gas out of the cylinder after combustion.

One unusual feature of this engine is that the oiler was designed so that it automatically shuts off when the engine shuts off. The oiler is actuated by a rod that comes down and touches the piston as it travels back and forth in the cylinder.

Also worth noting is the ratio of the bore and stroke. The engine has a 6-1/2-inch bore and 16-inch stroke, making a 2-1/2-to-1 ratio, which was unusual even in the days of long strokes.


White & Middleton Co. sold hundreds of these engines to Bell Telephone, which used them to charge batteries in small rural central telephone offices. They were so popular with Bell Telephone that the procedures manual it issued had a separate chapter on the operation and maintenance of these engines into the early 1950s.

One of the other products White & Middleton was involved with was nonmilitary submarines, presumably used to do underwater maintenance on telephone cables in bays and other areas around the shore.

This particular engine was found in a farm storage shed near Shelby, Indiana, but no further history is available. It was brought to Coolspring in 1992.

Want to learn more about this engine and 38 others? Check out Coolspring: Discovering America’s Finest Antique Engine Museum and see them run on the Coolspring Museum DVD.

Visit Coolspring Power Museum for more information about exhibits of early stationary internal combustion engines and events held at the museum.