A Stover light plant?

By Staff
1 / 4
Cover of a 1923 Stover electric light plant catalog.
2 / 4
Notice the dedicated cast iron base, water-cooled head and supplemental cooling tank on the KA engine. It is a 32-volt system rated at 750 watts.
3 / 4
Chuck Wendel was the previous caretaker of the Stover production records.
4 / 4
Tom Snodgrass uses inovation and common materials to get his 1917 18 HP Stover running after the fuel pump failed.

Stover collectors may be surprised to learn that Stover manufactured an electric light plant. We typically associate light plants with Delco, Fairbanks-Morse and other companies known for building these systems. Really, it’s not too surprising since Stover engines were used on many types of equipment.

The Stover light plant wasn’t just a standard Stover engine belted up to a generator; it was an engine modified for electric service and mounted on a cast base that held the engine, generator and supplemental cooling tank. The factory explains that the unit is belt driven to keep it simple and to use 30-year-old technology. By this time, many plants were gear driven or direct-drive.

Our information comes from a catalog that Stover issued in 1923. The engine is listed as a Type K (KA) with a throttling governor, special cooling tank, water-cooled head, and Webster magneto. The engine is actually 1-1/2 HP that the catalog optimistically claims will develop 2-1/2 HP: “Type K engines develop their horse power at slow speed. The 1-1/2 HP engine actually develops 2-1/2 HP at 550 rpm.” The water hopper has an adapter that plumbs the engine to a separate cooling tank. The cylinder head used extra large valves and was water cooled. This engine burned kerosene, gasoline and natural gas.

The generator and switchboard were made by Western Electric with a capacity of “3/4 KW or 700 watts.” I’m not sure what this means as it appears to be discrepant. The switchboard used a regulator for constant voltage. The board also had a circuit breaker, fuses, a charging gauge and starting switch. The battery system used 16 glass jar cells producing 32 volts. As you can see from the catalog, it was a neat looking outfit and would make a great display today. I’d sure like to know if anybody has one of these.

More on the Stover records
We have had a large number of requests to look up Stover engine serial numbers. In the process, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to some very interesting and friendly folks. Because we are providing information on many Stover engines, I’ve started to collect data on a spreadsheet. Personal information is being kept confidential although I’ve put certain parties in contact with each other (with permission) to help with specific engine questions. The Freeport (Ill.) Show does have a website so we may be able to establish an online registry in the future.

For many years, the Stover production and shipping records have been in separate places. On Oct. 16, 2008, the production records came home to Freeport, and were put in the archives with the shipping records already in the Silver Creek Museum. For my part, this has been like a quest for the Holy Grail. Chuck Wendel has been the guardian of the production records for many years and has graciously donated the records and a large box of Stover engine drawings to the Stephenson County Antique Engine Club. He received them from the late Lester Roos. Back in the 1960s, Lester got the production records from the Freeport Machine Works along with tons of engine parts and drawings. Shortly before Lester obtained the Stover material from the Freeport Machine Works, they had scrapped enough parts to build two 30 HP engines and one 60 HP engine. What pieces of history lost! We learned much from Chuck and had a great visit with him. Thanks Chuck!

Stover folks
What do you get when you combine a truck-driving farmer with a cantankerous Stover engine? You get a gentleman with innovative solutions.

My friend Tom Snodgrass was having fuel pump problems with his 18 HP Stover screen- cooled engine at the Freeport show. A fence post, duct tape, a lawnmower gas tank and some rubber hose fixed the problem. The photo is self-explanatory, and as you can see, the engine is running right along. Rather than just letting the engine sit, Tom got it going for the show. This is part of what makes engine collecting so much fun.

Well, the shows are getting few and far between with winter here, so us collectors up North will have to look at the engines in GEM and watch them run on the Internet. Till next time, keep your plugs clean and your igniters oiled.

Contact Joe Maurer at 797 S. Silberman Rd., Pearl City, IL 61620 • (815) 443-2223 • toadhill@aeroinc.net

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines