Surviving engines from Blakeslee Mfg. Co. and the subsequent White-Blakeslee Mfg. Co., Birmingham, Ala., are a true rarity. Regular readers will recall our last discussion on the subject in the article “Blakeslee or Bates & Edmonds?” in the August 2004 issue of GEM, when we compared Blakeslee engines with engines produced by Bates & Edmonds Motor Co., Lansing, Mich. The similarities between the two are uncanny, and we wondered if there might have been a connection between the two companies.
While Bates & Edmonds engines appear with some regularity, Blakeslee engines are so rarely seen it’s been questioned whether the company was truly ever a contender in the gas engine game. We still can’t answer that question with real authority, but we can add to the story and prove the company had, at the very least, great ambitions.
Engine collector Greg Best, Sarasota, Fla., noticed our last article, and it just so happens he has a 1907 White-Blakeslee catalog detailing the company’s offerings at that time. Labeled ‘Catalogue No. 9,’ the catalog lists the vertical engines we’ve come to associate with the Blakeslee name, detailing three sizes, including a 2-1/2 HP, 4 HP and 6 HP vertical.
Additionally, the catalog details a line of sideshaft horizontal engines, the likes of which, to the best of our knowledge, have never been seen. Eight sizes of horizontal engines were offered, ranging from 3 HP up to 25 HP. In common with the vertical engines, the horizontal models utilized tank cooling. Unlike the verticals, horizontal engines were listed available as portable units. The catalog lists an available buzz saw unit, as well as various integrated pumping units. White-Blakeslee engines used an igniter of the company’s own design, and they were all throttle-governed.
Interestingly, the catalog contains a separate ‘errata’ sheet glued to the first page, calling attention to a discrepancy in model identification in the catalog. The separate sheet specifies the name ‘Blakeslee’ applies only to engines furnished with connections for outside storage of gasoline and meeting guidelines established by the Board of Fire Underwriters. Portable and skidded engines with base-mounted gas tanks are referred to as ‘Birmingham’ engines. Also, we should note both the ‘errata’ sheet and the first page are stamped ‘N.O. Nelson Mfg. Co. Machinery Dept., St. Louis, MO.’
Although a little shy on specifications, the catalog is a gold mine of information, representing as it does a new chapter in our knowledge of engines from White-Blakeslee. We’ll run more from the catalog in future issues, and with any luck, someday we’ll answer the question of whether there was any connection between Blakeslee and Bates & Edmonds. Enjoy.
Special thanks to Greg Best for supplying us the opportunity to view his rare White-Blakeslee catalog. Contact him at: 901 Shallow Run, Sarasota, FL 34240.