Wolverine Motor Works catalog

By Staff
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The cover of a turn-of-the-century Wolverine engine catalog.
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A 9 HP, 3-cylinder, self-starting and reversing Wolverine marine engine.
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A 3 HP, single-cylinder “Junior” model.
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Patent drawing of Clark Sintz’s “Explosive Engine.”
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An illustration of the “Reversing Propeller Wheel.”

Recently, we acquired an original, 32-page Wolverine Motor Works catalog we’re sure will be of some interest to our readers. Wolverine manufactured both marine and stationary engines, engines that are rarely – if ever – seen today.

Wolverine Motor Works of Grand Rapids, Mich., was formed in 1894 by Clark Sintz, after selling his share of the Sintz Gas Engine Co., which was formed just a few years earlier. Sintz was an active force in the early days of gas engine technology (his first engine-related patent was granted in 1886), and his work on 2-stroke engines netted important advancements, evidenced by patent no. 646,322, granted to him March 27, 1900, for a 3-port, 2-stroke engine configuration he invented, which was applied to Wolverine engines.

Wolverine engines first became available for purchase in January of 1895. Wolverine engines could be used in stationary applications, and were easily converted for use as a marine engine. To retrofit the engine for use as a watercraft power source, the only required modifications were removal of one of the flywheels as well as the base.

According to the Wolverine catalog, the atomization of air and fuel in the top end of the cylinder was the key to Wolverine’s power production. A charge of air and gas was pulled into the crank chamber on the upstroke of the piston, the gas was compressed in the base on the downstroke, and once the piston was almost to bottom dead center (BDC), a port opened in the head. This allowed the compressed gas in the crank chamber to travel through a transfer port in the side of the cylinder, through an open port in the head and into the top end of the cylinder. On the next upstroke, the fuel was compressed by the piston. Once near top dead center (TDC), a spark ignited the gas charge, which produced an abrupt expansion of the mixture, forcing the piston back down.

On the downstroke, near BDC, the piston exposed an annular port in the side of the cylinder, which allowed the exhaust gas to escape. Just after this port was opened, a new gas charge was introduced while simultaneously expelling the exhaust.

The “Junior” model was available as a 4-stroke, 2 to 6 HP, single- or 2-cylinder model designed as a low-cost alternative to the standard Wolverine. With the same reversible propeller as its big brother, the Junior had the ability to stop a watercraft from full speed within its own length.

The exact date of Wolverine’s demise is not clear; however, it is said to have happened around 1905. The company’s history is quite sketchy, so if anyone out there in Engine Land has any additional information they’d like to share, please send it our way.

Special thanks to Russell Farmer for sending us this rare Wolverine catalog. Contact Russell at: 1231 Banta’s Creek Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701; oilengine@voyager.net

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