A few years ago while wasting my time and money cruising eBay, I came across an oil can with a Stover Engine Works endorsement. At the time, I hadn’t been sucked into the whirlpool of the Stover registry, but I did collect a few Stover odds and ends and had some early Stover engines. Being absolutely sure this was the only oil can of its type in existence, I bought the can even though it had some major damage on the top.
The can The can is a little over 4 inches square and 7 inches tall. It’s beautifully lithographed in green with pale yellow lettering. The front and back carry the writing and the sides have a decorative design that would look great on a crystal mirror or silver bowl. The can once held Lubroleine B, “Gas Engine Oil” manufactured by the Fiske Bros. Refining Co., New York City, N.Y.
Although the color and lithography are outstanding, the really neat thing about the can is the writing on the back. The top half gives the usual warning about using inferior oil and a slogan in large underlined text states “A Good Oil Will Prevent Trouble And Save Power.” You might find a similar dissertation on any oil can of the period. But there is icing on the cake. The bottom third of the back of the can reads: “We use Lubroleine Gas Engine Oil and find it economical and satisfactory in every way for internal and external lubrication of Gas and Gasoline engines. THE STOVER ENGINE WORKS, FREEPORT, ILL.” I would guess that the can was fairly early because Stover describes their engines as operating on gas (city gas or methane) or gasoline. To a collector, this was like finding the Holy Grail.
More details The can’s damaged top also had a story to tell. Some blockhead was too lazy to screw the lid off the can and use a funnel to put the oil into his machine. So he took some type of instrument and punched a 3/4-inch oblong hole into the top of the can. He next figured out a way to smash one corner to form a pouring spout. The relationship of the hole and the spout would appear to be poorly aligned to dispense oil but I don’t figure on putting oil in the can to find out. Anyway, it makes you want to cry.
Paying attentionWhile walking the flea market at the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. show in Portland, Ind., last August (you can’t see everything with a golf cart), I came across an oil can identical to the one I had at home. Well, not identical – the top wasn’t smashed in. What the heck? What are the odds of that? It took me a couple of minutes to comprehend what I was looking at. The can was not cheap and I already had one, so what to do? You guessed it: I had to buy it. So, after spending all that money and walking, I’m sharing the two cans with you.
1,000 engines and countingI continue to add engines to the Stover registry and there are well over 1,000 engines on the registry now.
The original registry is on the Gas Engine Magazine website at www.gasenginemagazine.com/stover-registry, and an updated version is now available for PDF download. This new version includes the current location of the engines on the registry if that information is available.
If you want to know the date your Stover engine was shipped and to whom it was shipped, please contact me. If sending an e-mail, please include your name and at least the general area in which you live. If you don’t hear from me in two weeks, please call.
Until next time, keep your plugs dry and your igniters oiled.
Contact Joe Maurer at 797 S. Silberman Rd., Pearl City, IL 61062 • (815) 443-2223 • firstname.lastname@example.org.