Stover’s first engine

By Staff
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Testimonials taken from the 1902 Stover catalog. The Hawley brothers of McConnell, Ill., had been using a 6 HP Stover since 1898. Stover historians disagree over when the company actually started selling engines. Obviously, it was by at least 1898, and possibly as early as 1895.
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1911 2 HP Stover upright with engine number 29913 stamped on a Pilter (Paris, France) nameplate.
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There is a debate among die-hard Stover fans regarding the date D.C. Stover started building engines, and what type of engine he was building in the beginning. While the answers to these questions aren’t going to solve the mysteries of life or stop global warming, or whatever they call it today, it does shed a little light on the attributes of later Stover engines as a whole.

Stover provided catalogs over the years and most of them are dated. In these catalogs, Stover frequently references how many years the company had been building engines. Using simple math, Stover usually tells us that he started building engines in 1895. Since catalogs from that period show an Otto-type sideshaft engine, some folks think Stover just bought his early engines.

Chuck Wendel and I have discussed this, and we believe Stover built his own 19th century engines for several reasons.

Stover had the manufacturing capability to easily build the most complicated gas engine. He had been building precision machinery for years, and his foundry was capable of large castings. Stover was a mechanical genius and was very independent. At most, he may have obtained a license from Otto. But Stover’s “ace in the hole” was Paul Schryer (later of Zeigler-Schryer and Rawleigh-Schryer). Schryer had a hand in developing the “one pushrod drives everything” technology used on Stover engines after 1901.

After Schryer had his own company, his catalogs even reference the dates of his personal engine development experience with a large engine company (Stover) back to the early 1890s. He worked for Stover until 1909. So, odds are that Stover began to build his own engines in 1895, as he later advertises, and, at the same time, was probably starting to work on an improved engine design.
Evidence indicates that Stover built both a horizontal and upright sideshaft engine until 1902. This style was still advertised in 1901.

The existing shipping records start at serial number 502 (early 1902), and all evidence indicates that these were upright and horizontal engines of the newer single pushrod style. This system was used on the Stover flywheel engines until 1942.

So, our conclusion is that Stover started building engines of the sideshaft design in approximately 1895. Any hard evidence that confirms or denies this conclusion is heartily welcome. See above for some testimonials from the 1902 Stover catalog that confirm, at the very least, an 1898 date.

The French connection (ending with the U.K.)
Because Stover had been selling windmills all across the world, he had a large distribution system for his engines. And so, today, the engines show up all over the place.

In the last issue we had the Hungarian connection and in this issue we have the French connection. We received a request for Stover information from Andrew Gisby, who lives near Canterbury, England. Andrew has an upright Stover that is listed in the records as a 2 HP Type YA plain engine (no pump jack), shipped to T.H. Pilter, Paris, France, on Sept. 29, 1911. The records show that Stover shipped many engines to Pilter over a period of several years.

Andrew’s engine is the first one we’ve seen with the Pilter nameplate, and it is stamped with the Stover serial number. I don’t know how it got across the English Channel to England, but it’s not that far. Anyway, Andrew has a fine Stover engine that came through the French connection.

Stover records
Stover engine serial numbers keep coming in. We have looked up more than 300 engines and will continue to do so if requested.
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 •

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