Letters & Miscellanies

Belts, Hummer Manufacturing Co., Oval Ideals and Homemade Tractors

15 HP IHC Titan

This 15 HP IHC Titan converted to a tractor about 1909 was mentioned in the January 1910 issue of Gas Review.

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Belts and Dressing

In answer to the questions on belts and dressing in the March 2004 issue of GEM: In our area, Cling Surface Dressing and Sheps is available at hardware stores and farm supply stores. Contact Cling Surface Co. at: 1048 Niagra St., Buffalo, NY 14213.

Also, there's an Amish company that has a liquid dressing that is much better than the sticks. We use it on our sawmill at our local engine show. The company is Bowman Belting Supply, 6113 County Road 77, Route 6, Millersburg, OH 44654. Cling Surface also makes a liquid, but it does not work as well as Bowman's.

Finally, there is another advantage of a long belt: It's more forgiving on alignment. You do not have to be so fussy when belting up, and the belt will run true on the pulleys.

John Heath, 494 Township Road 232 Sullivan, OH 44880

Oval Hopper Ideal

I sent in the picture of the Ideal upright with an oval hopper shown in the February 2004 GEM, page 9. The information forthcoming was very gratifying, and I received four sets of paperwork and booklets with parts lists, instructions, dates, etc. I must mention that GEM has become a great tool in our hands, and there is no other way to get this kind of information.

Those replying with information included Alan Hendrickson in Oregon, who has a fully intact engine that also has '4M4' cast into it just under the cylinder oiler. The tag on his engine says it is a 4 HP Type M, serial no. 12105. R.D. Heidi of Ohio had one for eight years before selling it 11 years ago - he purchased it from Al King, the author of several engine books. His engine was a 1912 4 HP Type M with a 1-3/4-inch crankshaft, serial no. 505. His also has '4M4' cast into the engine under the cylinder oiler. Joe Betz of Pennsylvania also has a 1912, but with a much later number, serial no. 18000.

John Catoe of South Carolina has a running oval hopper Ideal he says was originally on a cement mixer. Another fellow from the cold, central part of British Columbia needs a flywheel and a fuel pump, and I have volunteered to help him get his engine in running condition.

Clifford Taber, 85 Bokum Road Deep River, CT 06417 thomas_c_taber@sbcglobal.net

I have an Ideal just like Clifford's. The tag says it was supplied for American Cement Co., Keokuk, Iowa, and shows serial no. 14246, 2-1/2 HP, Type M.

It came off a mixer and was in bad shape, but it is now restored and running. Hope this helps.

Ralph O. Davis, P.O. Box 2 Macfarlan, WV 26148

Watkins Engine

Regarding query 39/3/1 about the Watkins engine (GEM, March 2004, page 8), Stan Grayson's book, Old Marine Engines - The World of the One Lunger, has a little information on Watkins engines. Page 230 mentions Watkins Motor Co., Cincinnati, Ohio (trade name Watkins), and says they made 'canoe motors' in one-, two- and three-cylinder versions. They had a three-port design and an aluminum base. The company is believed to be the successor to Frank M. Watkins Manufacturing Co., which in 1904 listed 1-1/2 to 25 HP two- and four-stroke models.

Dennis Pollock, Albuquerque, N.M. dapol@cybermesa.com

Hercules Model JK

The engine in query 39/4/1 (GEM, January 2004, page 7) is an early 1930s Hercules-built Model JK, 'J' for enclosed crank, 'K' for kerosene. It needs a Wico EK magneto but otherwise seems complete. I did mine in dark green with Hercules decals, but the traces of red on your's indicates it was sold as a Sears Economy and painted red. Nice little engines.

Sam Hamilton, Stillwater, Okla.

I believe your engine is a Hercules Model JK. I have one, and Glenn Karch discussed this model in his column in the November 1999 GEM.

Alfred Jackson, 479 E. Madison Road Madison, ME 04950

Coils and Spark

The SmokStak column in the November 2003 issue discussed Model T coils. With the flywheel 'generator' of the Model T, the voltage averaged somewhere near 9 volts. However, the voltage went up as engine speed increased, to a peak of somewhere around 18 volts.

This was an advantage because as engine speed increases compression increases, and of necessity the voltage, or electrical pressure, needed to fire across the plug gap also increases. So, I have no problem at all using 12 volts on a Model T coil. In fact, with a high-compression engine like the Cushman, using 12 volts will eliminate a lot of operating problems if you are working the engine. A final note about the Model T: The lights got pretty dim at slow speeds, but they brightened up halfway decently when the engine was going along at 30 mph or so.

When I first started writing books back in the 1970s, I visited Fairbanks-Morse at Beloit, Wis., and was able to talk to a few old-timers. Fairbanks started raising compression with the Type Z engines and ran into all kinds of problems with ignition. The Sumter plug oscillator was the first mistake, and the company offered a retrofit to a Webster magneto: Internal records show it didn't do too well, either.

Numerous others were tried, including the American Bosch AB-33, which took its turn at infamy. During these years the company quietly went about designing its own magneto, and that is how FM got into the magneto business.

Regarding condensers, the 0.2 microfarad condenser would be about right. Most magnetos use something in the range of 0.25 to 0.33 for the condenser. I also agree with the comment in the article about never firing a coil without a suitable spark gap, because you risk blowing out the high-tension coil. The same is true for any high-tension magneto.

C.H. Wendel, Box 257 Amana, IA 52203

West Coast and Doack Engines

We received four responses to our request for information on West Coast engines (GEM, July 2003), and were happy to locate over 25 units ranging in size from 2-1/2 HP to 50 HP. We have located two of the 50 HP models, one restored and running.

I'd like to make a similar appeal for information on engines manufactured by Doack Engine Co., San Francisco. I'm asking for owners to please mail one or two pictures of their Doack engine so we can form a register and log to include in a book of known Doack engines. Please give bore, stroke, flywheel diameter, horsepower and any other data - or anything unusual - about your engine.

Bill May, 9152 Hector Ave. San Diego, CA 92123 bmay9152@san.rr.com

Hummer Engines

On page 6 of the December 2003 GEM, we featured two photos of a Montgomery Ward & Co. air-cooled engine belonging to James Haugen. James was curious as to who actually built the engine, and in the January 2004 issue Richard Jensen identified it as a Hummer.

Writing in the February 2004 issue, Kenneth Scales discussed Ward's sale of Hummer engines, providing details and specifics of the engine, and confirming Hummer Manufacturing Co., Springfield, Ill., as the engine's builder. However, we still knew little about the company.

But thanks to a newspaper clipping sent in by reader Jon Wibben, 401 W. Pine St., P.O. Box 54, Hartsburg, IL 62642, we now have a better picture of the company and its history.

According to a story in the magazine section of the July 4, 2003 edition of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., the Hummer Manufacturing Co. was once a shining star in the Springfield economy.

The Journal-Register cites a 1936 article in the Illinois State Register that claimed Hummer employed more than 400 people in 1936 and was famous for manufacturing cream separators.

Further, the Journal-Register says Hummer Manufacturing Co. was part of Springfield-based Racine-Sattley Co., and suggests the Hummer name was first applied to a riding plow manufactured by Sattley in the 1890s. According to the Journal-Register, some time before World War I the plant that manufactured the Hummer plow became a separate division of Sattley and was renamed Hummer Plow Works.

In the mid-1930s (exactly when, the article doesn't say) Hummer began manufacturing small farm engines. A 1937 fire devastated the Hummer plant, and while it was rebuilt, its reconstruction wasn't completed for upwards of a year. This last item is important and likely explains why Hummer engines disappeared from Montgomery Ward catalogs. If Hummer was manufacturing engines in 1936, and if Hummer was a division of Sattley, which itself was owned by Montgomery Ward, then the appearance of Hummer engines in the 1937 Montgomery Ward catalogs is explained. Further, if the Hummer plant burned in 1936, then the sudden absence of Hummer engines from the 1938 Montgomery Ward catalogs is likewise explained.

We still don't know one thing, however. If Hummer resumed manufacture of engines, why didn't Montgomery Ward list them in their 1939 or later catalogs?

The Journal-Register says Hummer continued in business until 1958, manufacturing water pumps and gasoline-powered lawn mowers. Montgomery Ward was, apparently, a major outlet for Hummer-made pumps and mowers. Yet, in December 1957 Hummer announced it would cease operations within six months. Evidently, Montgomery Ward contracted two other firms to manufacture its line of pumps and mowers, and with that the Hummer Manufacturing Co. shut its doors for good.

Our thanks to Jon for helping fill in the missing pieces to an interesting footnote in engine history. - Editor

Homemade Tractors

Looking through the pages of GEM, you could be excused for thinking homemade tractors are a new idea. Thanks to reader Paul Baresel, 69 Christian Hill Road, Limington ME 04049, we've discovered otherwise.

Paul, who is also president of the Limington Historical Society, sent us an original copy of the January 1910 Gas Review, a magazine devoted to the early engine industry.

For present-day engine collectors, this vintage magazine presents a treasure trove of old ads. From Bates & Edmonds to Waterloo, then-contemporary manufacturers filled the pages of Gas Review with ads touting the superiority of their engines.

Flipping through the magazine, we couldn't help but notice a letter and the accompanying black-and-white photo in the magazine's 'Correspondence' department from a Mr. O.E. Lerud of Sacred Heart, Minn. Mr. Lerud, clearly a clever farmer, had taken his 15 HP IHC Titan, complete with its factory corrugated cooling tank, and converted it to a traction-driven tractor. A tractor he claimed could pull four 14-inch plows - with power to spare.

Judging by the photo, Mr. Lerud swapped the rear wheels from the original cart to the front, devised a drive mechanism of some sort (it looks as if there might be a chain driving off the right hand pulley), mounted a pair of rear drivers, and off he went. Ingenious. Yet when you think about it, what Mr. Lerud did in 1909 wasn't much different than what a lot of folks do today when they build small-scale tractors powered by anything from an old Briggs & Stratton to a 5 HP Economy stationary engine.

Look for more gems from the pages of Gas Review, thanks to Paul Baresel, in future issues of Gas Engine Magazine. - Editor

Ingersoll-Rand 8PLVG Update

This picture shows Martin Reed during a pause while working on the 8PLVG engine during the Shenandoah Valley Steam and Gas Engine Association Show in Berryville, Va., last July. The engine was featured in the February 2003 issue of GEM and was acquired by the Shenandoah association shortly after its discovery.

Martin was pouring volatile corrosion-inhibiting (VCI) oil into the cylinders, and over the past year the '8PLVG Crew' has worked on the engine's preservation using VCI capsules placed inside the engine with VCI oil.

The actual set-up work will begin this year after we get the engine set on a permanent mounting pad.

Mac and Betty Sine, 13 Maine St. Lawrenceville, PA 16929

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