Manufacturer: Samson Iron Works, Stockton, CA
Flywheel diameter: 23-1/2 inches
Brandon Perry’s 1904 2-1/2 HP Samson is a California-built engine with a uniquely Californian background. “This engine was used in a gold mine in Chinese Camp, Calif.,” says Brandon. “It probably ran a water pump because it’s a little too small to run anything larger than that.”
Brandon acquired the engine from some friends who own the mine property, which has been in their family for over 100 years. “It was probably just a prospector mine,” says Brandon. “There wasn’t enough activity on it to have a larger operation.”
Like all Samsons, the vertical engine is tank cooled. It has a 4-3/4-inch bore with an 8-inch stroke, and a flywheel diameter of 23-1/2 inches. “It hadn’t been used since the 1920s and had been stored in a barn for at least the last 40 or 50 years,” says Brandon, “so it’s in better shape than it would have been outside.”
Nonetheless, some work was required to get it going again as the piston was stuck, the valve chamber rusted, and replacements needed for the carburetor and igniter. One of the flywheels had also been removed, probably for use on another machine, Brandon speculates. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “I had to have the flywheel cast but it’s a better quality casting than the original,” says Brandon.