Hit-and-Miss


| August 2005



RichardBackus.jpg

For the most part, the history of Weber Gas Engine Co., Kansas City, Mo., has been fairly well documented. One of the earliest manufacturers of gas engines in the U.S., Weber started operations in the mid-1880s building stationary engines for farm and industrial use, with a decided focus on the latter.

The early days of the gas engine industry were not unlike the early days of the computer industry, with new ventures seemingly launched daily, and folding just as quickly. Unlike most of its counterparts, however, Weber thrived, staying in business until at least the 1970s.

A curious footnote to Weber's history, however, is Sheffield, a name in the company's history that's escaped solid documentation.

According to C.H. Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, in 1908 company founder George J. Weber sold Weber Gas Engine Co. and retired. At that juncture Weber Gas Engine Co. became Sheffield Gas Power Co., even though the Weber name continued to be used on engines.

About 1910, the reorganized company started producing a new line of engines under the Sheffield name. Both hopper- and tank-cooled Sheffield engines were produced, although in what range of sizes we don't know, as only two engines, the 6 HP hopper-cooled engine featured in this issue and a 25 HP tank-cooled in California, are known to survive.

Production appears to have lasted at least three years, until 1913, when Sheffield Gas Power Co. reorganized as the Sheffield Gas Engine Co. At some juncture after 1913 (it's not clear when), the company returned to its roots, once again becoming the Weber Gas Engine Co.