Old Cotton Gin

Courtesy of Lloyd McGowen, Route 4, Box 379, Easley, South Carolina 29640.

R. F. Somerville

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Rt. 4, Box 379, Easley, South Carolina 29640.

If you were riding along Highway 253 which is a few miles north of Greenville, S. C. some thirty or forty years ago, you would have to work your way through the trucks and wagons loaded with cotton waiting to get into the Lindsey Brothers' Cotton Gin. If you were to pass this same route today, you wouldn't even know when you passed the cotton gin unless you are the type of person who lets any old building or barn catch your eye, and your thoughts can imagine an old engine of some sort in there. What will really catch an old engine hawk's eye is an old gin or mill that doesn't have any large power lines or transformers close by. This is a pretty good indication that an old engine was once used there. By using this kind of strategy, I came across another 'Sleeping Giant,' which happens to be a twin cyl., (2) cycle, 300 II. P. M., 80 H. P. Fairbanks Morse full-diesel weighing 14 tons. The engine S/N is 632698 and was built October 29, 1925, in Beloit, Wisconsin. This well preserved engine has been at rest some 16 years now, but the owner has taken time to keep it oiled and turned through from time to time.

I would imagine if you could see into some of this old engine's dreams over the past years you would see quite a history. For instance, there was the time when the main part of the gin caught on fire and she barely escaped with her life, or once during the height of the cotton season when the injectors were acting up and she was hard to start. When the mechanic finally got her started he told the gin owner, Mr. Lindsey, to let it run all night and in a day or so he would stop back by. For some reason, the mechanic forgot about his promise and it was three weeks of continuous running for the engine because the operator was afraid he couldn't get it started again. One of the most unforgettable years was when some new and larger gin equipment was installed and the 80 H. P. wasn't enough to carry the load. A small 8 cyl. diesel that weighed about ? the old monster's weight and had more than twice the horsepower was installed, but I am sure it was a welcome relief. These are just some of the events that belong to her past that the former owner has passed on to me. I am sure some of the neighborhood can tell you about her sound on a cold still morning when the load was heavy.

An engineer would look at the engine in this way. On hot compression stroke the cyl. builds up to 600 PS1 to ignite the fuel. This is compared to 250 PSI on a semi-diesel, but I understand from some old operators the thermal efficiency of the two engines were about the same. I guess this is the reason the semi-diesels continued to be built after the full-diesel went into service. The oil system uses a Madison Force Feed Lubricator for the rings, piston pins and connecting rod. Each main bearing has a reservoir under it where a ring around the crankshaft can dip in the oil bath and lubricate the shaft and bearings. There is no oil bath in the crankcase because the engine is a (2) cycle and any excess oil there would be sucked up into the cylinders and burned, causing the engine to run away. The starting procedure is quite an operation within itself. The first step is to pump the air tanks up to at least 200 PSI. Next, a bar is placed in the flywheel when the No. 2 piston is at the timing point where the injector pump can be hand operated. After priming the cyls. well, the No. 1 piston is rotated 10 degrees past TDC and a charge of compressed air is manually dumped into No. 1 cylinder, driving it down and bringing No. 2 piston up on the compression stroke. At this point the 'Sleeping Giant' will have awakened after its long nap and as she comes to life and looks around, everything will seem strange and out of place, because there has been a lot happening the last few months.

Lindsey Brothers' Old Cotton Gin as it now stands just North of Greenville, South Carolina. The 'Sleeping Giant' is now inside.

'Sleeping Giant'. It  is the Lindsey Brothers' Old Cotton Gin as it now stands just North of Greenville, South Carolina

The top two pictures are two views of my 90 HP 300 rpm, 11 ton, horizontal twin cylinder semi-diesel, built in 1921 by Fairbanks-Morse. The engine has a 56' diameter flywheel with an 18' face, weighing 4200 Ibs.-that I removed.

The engine now is mounted on a slab of concrete about the height of a low-boy. This writer hopes to jack the engine up and slide some steel I-beams between it and the trailer. After letting the engine down on some 2' bar stock for rollers, a come-along will be used to pull the engine on the trailer. This would save the expense of a crane and would give one the satisfaction and the appreciation of moving heavy equipment like it was done years ago. I guess I have been dreaming about as much as this old engine has, because this summer 1 hope to make this dream come true.

This article has been prompted by the large response I received from the article 'Home of The Giants' in the Sept.-Oct. issue. To follow that article up I have now brought the large 90 II. P. 300 R. P. M. horizontal twin cyl. home. It was quite a job moving this engine and without the use of a crane. 1 am enclosing a picture of this engine and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has one or has any information on this type of engine. I have written Fairbanks-C in Beloit, Wisconsin and they have sent me the engine history but they were unaware of any still being in existence.

I would like to ask the Gas Boys if they know anything or have heard anything about the over-sized tractors back in the good old days, like the 1915 and 1916 Twin City Four and Twin City size 60 x 90 with over-sized piston, size 7?' x 9'. Also the 1911-1. H. C. Mogul 45 x 90, 2 cylinder, the 1916 Pioneer Six 45 x 90, the E. B. Big Six 45 x 90, the 1920 model E Oil pull 30 x 60 rerated to 55 x 75 HP and also the 1922 Case 40 x 72 cross motor. What horsepower do you boys think these giants would develop on the belt and what size separator do you think was the largest built?

Clyde ./. Nichols

While I was doing the research on my Trumbull, I actually wrote all over the world, running down any possible lead I could find. One of my foreign correspondents was Mr. Allen Rewell (now deceased) who owned a Trumbull too. He lived in Victoria, Australia. He was a most interesting letter writer and in one of his letters, he sent me this picture. Notice the way in which the wheels were designed so that it actually laid down a plank roadway for itself. Here is the information that he sent me.

'This tractor was made in Germany between 1912-1913. It was powered by a single cylinder semi-diesel engine, having a hot-spot ignition system. It had a bore of 21' and a stroke of 32'. It ran at 800 rpm. Its fuel tank held 4000 gallons of kerosene and traveled at 1? mph. This tractor was used to haul wood and wheat over land and to paddle wheel steam boats on the Murray River. It pulled two trailers with wheels similar to this tractor's wheels carrying 100 tons-total load. The engine was removed from the tractor between 1920-1930 and used for pumping water for irrigation. It was still in use in 1969.'