Made A Gas Tractor Out of His Steam Traction Engine

Homemade Gas Tractor

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The following article is reprinted from Gas Power, November, 1908. We thank Ted Utess, P.O. Box 146, Three Mile Bay, New York 13693-0146, for sending us the issue. We wonder whether this tractor is still in existence!

Under separate cover I send a photograph of a homemade gas tractor. The engine is single cylinder 10 in. by 16 in., rated at 20 HP and runs 240 rpm. For gearing I used nearly all of a 10 HP traction engine except boiler and engine. It is fitted with gravity feed and wipe spark. Because of its size it is also fitted with magneto and dry battery for starting, also has friction clutch on both ends of crank shaft. It is used for hauling and threshing and suits me much better than the steamer it replaced. It is water cooled by spray circulating pump. If you think this will be of interest to anyone who has an old steam traction and wants to save something out of it, you are at liberty to publish it. I get many valuable hints and helps out of Gas Power.

As experience in handling gas engines by new beginners is wanted, here is mine. Some three years ago I, being discouraged in running a steam thresher on bad water, concluded to try gasoline. After corresponding with builders I decided on a 20 HP single cylinder engine to take the place of the old 10 HP tractor discarded. I built a channel iron frame and attached the gearing and wheels the same as they were on the old machine. Have friction clutches on both ends of crank shaft for convenience in starting and was ready for business. Then trouble began. The engine would not run up to speed when at work but lagged along and exhausted at every opportunity like a steamer. We found by experiment that if half of the intake was closed, it would run up to the governor but could not pull much of a load. Complaint was made to the builders and details given but the company did not seem to believe our report and matters got worse instead of better. We are 300 miles from the factory and did not like to have an expert at $4.00 per day and all expenses just to show us that the engine was all right. Well, the 'Trouble Man' came and found that the engine had back pressure to such an extent that it could not run away and fire every charge.

As for power, the engine is about equal to the 10 HP steamer but much less trouble, as there are no leaky flues to replace each season, as we had to do with the old outfit and there is less hired help and expense. Now, should not the company have been able to locate the trouble and to have saved us the expense and vexation of trying to run a lazy engine for more than a year? Let me say that I know of another engine that would not run without the intake was three-fourths closed. All this was before I saw a copy of Gas Power; it would have been worth $100 to me that year. N.D. Smith, Roscoe, Oklahoma.

Note: The trouble Mr. Smith describes in his letter and caused by back pressure limiting the amount of charge taken into the cylinder, is also frequently caused by a constricted or obstructed passage for the fuel gasoline or oil. If an engine gets too much air for the gasoline or oil admitted, it is sure to run lazily if at all. By shutting off a part of the air and thus getting the right mixture of air and fuel the charge will 'explode' or burn instantly when ignited instead of an extended, lazy burning as before. The engine will therefore run up to full speed on light load but as both the air and fuel are throttled the cylinder does not get a full charge and, as in the case of back pressure, the engine will not pull a full load.