Letters & Miscellanies

By Staff
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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

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

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

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

Clifford Taber, 85 Bokum Road Deep River, CT 06417

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

Dennis Pollock, Albuquerque, N.M.

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

Alfred Jackson, 479 E. Madison Road Madison, ME

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

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

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

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

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

Send letters to: Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St.,
Topeka, KS 66609-1265; e-mail: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com

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