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1 HP Cavanaugh and Darley Co. Little Giant

Collector traces history of engine through pages of GEM

| May 2009

  • cavanaugh
    The circa-1904 1 HP Cavanaugh & Darley tank-cooled engine that Cliff Albright purchased last spring. This is the fourth time the engine has popped up in the pages of GEM.

  • cavanaugh

I went to Peru, Ind., to visit a friend of mine, Kenny Wolf, who has hundreds of beautiful engines. One of the engines he had was a little 1 HP tank-cooled engine named Little Giant, manufactured by Cavanaugh & Darley Co. in Chicago. The unique features of this engine include round flywheels, a brass cooling tank and a nice truck. We talked about it and I bought it. After I got it home and running, I was overjoyed with the engine and its features.

I started showing it at local engine shows and several people said they had seen one before but couldn’t remember where. My friend, John Chonowski, who has a beautiful collection of his own here in Illinois, had been looking through some of his old issues of Gas Engine Magazine and found an  article in the December 1987 issue about this particular Cavanaugh & Darley engine.

The first appearance
The article was written by Carl Shafer of West Virginia, who purchased the engine in pieces from a West Virginia family. Evidently, that family purchased the engine new directly from Cavanaugh & Darley. They used it on a homemade wood lathe until it finally broke down.

In May 1988, Carl sent photos and another article to Gas Engine Magazine about this engine after he had finished restoring it. When I saw these photos, I recognized it was the same engine I had purchased last spring.

Then, John found another article about the engine, this time in the December 1996 issue. Hal Dunbar, Adrian, Mich., sent in an article titled “A Few of My 27 Gas Engine Models.” In the center of the photograph was my Cavanaugh & Darley. I tried to contact Hal in 2008 and was sorry to hear from his nephew that he had passed away. His nephew was kind enough to give me the name and telephone number of Hal’s friend, Glenn Miers, who also has engines. Glen told me that Kenny Wolf had bought Hal’s collection.

Looking to fill the gap
I am very excited to have this much knowledge of the history of this engine, which is still a work in progress. And I should note that the reasons I know this is my engine in the three GEM articles is because of the repairs that Carl had to do, the engraved tag and the way Hal built the cart in his own particular style. I hope that someone will be able to help me fill in the history from Carl Shafer to how it became a part of Hal Dunbar’s collection. Any information is greatly appreciated.


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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