Letters & Miscellanies

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Engine pictured in a mid-1930s Montgomery, Ward & Co. catalog is a Nelson Bros. 3 HP VFG.
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Tractor Conversion

The August 2002 issue with the article on the Fond du Lac
tractor conversion got me thinking, and I thought you might be
interested in seeing copies of a brochure for a conversion. I
don’t know who made the conversion, but Montgomery, Ward &
Co. was still selling them in 1938. I don’t think rubber
tractor tires came out until around 1934 or 1935.

Also, in 1935 my father pumped water with a single-cylinder,
water-cooled engine. I don’t know the make, but it was not a
John Deere. The camshaft gear broke, so he went into town and
bought a Montgomery, Ward & Co. engine identical to the one
pictured in the owner’s manual I have copied. We used it to
pump water and run the washing machine until electricity came in
the mid-1940s. I think the magneto went bad and the engine probably
went to the iron pile. In my 25-30 years of going to shows and
auctions I have never seen an engine like it. I don’t know if
they are scarce, or maybe people think they are too new to

Harold Langbehn Box 453 Dysart, IA 52224

Copy of a circa 1938 catalog for ‘Wards Improved Utility
Tractor Unit,’ a kit for converting the Ford Model T, Model A
and 1926-1931 Chevy sedan into a tractor.

The engine is unquestionably a Nelson Bros. 3 HP VFG, and your
dating of the engine to around 1935 lines up with Nelson’s
production of these engines, many of which went to Montgomery, Ward
& Co. As for the conversion tractor, we don’t have a clue
who made it, as there were so many different companies offering
conversion kits for the ever-popular Model T and other platforms.


There appears to be quite some differences of opinion a to the
correct rotation of engine flywheels with curved spokes.

I have noted that with the exception of three or four very early
American engines, all have cast straight spokes, which have proven
performance record over their working life. Many engines built in
England have curved spokes; this has engendered debate as to the
proper direction of rotation, suggesting that stress relief will
favor one rotational direction over the opposite.

As I see it as a qualified engineer, internal stresses would not
have any effect and the flywheel rim would control such. With some
experience in the standards adopted by patternmakers and foundry
moulders of yesteryear, I think the possibility of stresses in any
design would have been eliminated during manufacture, the last
feature in the process being the allowed cooling time following the
pour. It may be that the English designers admitted curved spokes
just to embellish design features. I would like to see an opinion
on this subject aired in the GEM magazine.

Tom Welch 6 Bushell Place Ardross 6153 West

Hartig Standard gas Engine Co.

Larry Trammel, a long time antique motor collector and dealer in
Chapel Hill, N.C., suggested I contact your magazine. My
grandparents were long time friends of James Perry Wilson, an
artist who is becoming known as one of the premier diorama painters
of the 20th century. He was employed by both the Museum of Natural
History and the Peabody Museum, and several of his works are on
display at both museums. An employee of Peabody is currently doing
research for a biography on Wilson and has discovered that his
father, James Wilson, was an officer in the Hartig Standard Gas
Engine Co. of Newark, N.J., in the late 1800s. The researcher is
interested in any information that might be available about the
senior Mr. Wilson, including titles, dates of employment, etc.

I appreciate any information anyone might be able to add to this
search and will certainly credit them as the source.

Fred Schroeder fschroed@email.unc.edu

Unidentified Flywheel

Keith Rather’s unidentified flywheel (see GEM, August 2003,
page 6, query 38/8/4) is from an International (or
McCormick-Deering) 1-1/2 HP M. My parts book (EC-1, dated 1931)
says it is the governor-side wheel used on gas engines from 1923 to
1927 and kerosene engines from 1917 to 1927. These years may have
all been igniter-fired engines. Judging from the photos, it still
has the proper shade of green paint.

John Hamilton Waxahachie, Texas


The magazine is really looking good. I especially enjoyed the
article ‘Show and Tell’ in the August issue. Seems like the
median age of people in our hobby gets older every year, and
stories like this serve to stimulate interest in future members.
Certainly the experience should serve as a model for any group
displaying the objects of our hobby to younger generations. The
last paragraph in that article should ring loudly to all of us that
share the love of our old iron. Congratulations to Dave Rotigel and
the others who brought this show to these young folks!

Chuck Schoppe President, EDGE&TA Branch 3 Los Gatos,

Blanchard Show Wedding

Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride take a post-wedding ride through the
show grounds at the 16th Annual Blanchard Steam and Gas Show in
Blanchard, Mich., following their wedding at the show.

There was a wedding at the 16th Annual Blanchard Steam and Gas
Show, Blanchard, Mich. Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride, Mt. Pleasant,
Mich., took their vows at a small, rustic chapel next to the show
grounds. Using Gary’s 1950 IHC Farmall M as their wedding
vehicle, they drove around the show grounds with tin cans and old
shoes in tow via the hitch on the M as both exhibitors and
spectators wished them the best.

Roger Eldred 10750 S. Vroman Road Shepherd, MI

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

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