1906 4 HP West Coast

A hard knock life

| May 2009

Editor's note: This article ran in the May 2009 issue of Gas Engine Magazine with the horsepower listed as 3 HP, which was the horsepower listed for this specific engine in a collector-produced history of the West Coast Engine Co. The nameplate, however, states the engine's horsepower as 4 HP, and that's what we'll list it as for future reference.

Manufacturer: West Coast Engine Co., San Diego, CA
Year: 1906
Horsepower: 4
Serial number: 0327
Bore: 5-inch
Stroke: 10-inch
Flywheel diameter: 28 inches

Some engines need a little more TLC than others. Brandon Perry, Farmington, Calif., found such an engine in a 1906 4 HP West Coast. “When it was brand new, they dropped it while unloading and that bent the crankshaft,” says Brandon. “Over time, that broke the spokes.”

According to Brandon, the engine was purchased new by a man known only as Mr. Bryan, who operated the Big Grizzly Gold Mine in Ned’s Gulch near Anderson Valley, Calif. Mr. Bryan mined in the winter and worked for the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad in the summer. The engine was used to run a hoist, which was on a 70-degree incline shaft.

Mr. Bryan died in the 1960s and Brandon’s cousin, Sam Perry, bought all of the mining equipment in the fall of 1970. Sam held on to the West Coast until 1991 when Brandon traded his Winchester Model 12 shotgun for the engine. It didn’t take too long before Brandon saw he had a project on his hands.

“It took one year of work to get it going again,” says Brandon. “I straightened the crankshaft and the cylinder had some major cracks that were repaired. The bore is in bad shape and it has just about no compression. The cylinder probably needs to be bored and sleeved but it runs well enough for exhibition purposes.”