15-20 HP Carl Anderson Co. engine gets a tune-up

Big Waldo's 21st century modification

| December/January 2010

carl anderson1

Curt Holland used some 21st century technology to get this rare 15 to 20 HP Carl Anderson Co. engine running properly.

Photo by Curt Holland

The religious conservative Waldensians trace their roots back to 46 A.D. to the valleys of Northern Italy. Modern-language Bibles owe a debt of gratitude to the Waldensians as they were the first to translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to French. Population growth and persistent persecution led many of the Waldensians to seek a new life in the Americas, and they settled in one area known today as Valdese, N.C. They were phenomenal stonemasons and many of the houses they built as contract laborers can still be seen dotting the Carolinas in a 100-mile radius around Valdese. Duke University, as well as many of the stone bridges through Virginia and into Washington, D.C., illustrate some of their handiwork.

The original Waldensian settlers operated a sawmill, clearing land and producing lumber to build their homes and sell to pay for their land. The old engine they were given to pull the sawmill soon got to be known as “the damned old engine” because it was so difficult to operate.

North Carolina State Senator Jim Jacumin is a third generation descendent of the Waldensians and has worked tirelessly to document the life of the Waldensians in Italy and in Valdese.
Over the last 15 years he led the construction of a beautiful tribute to them in the form of a village that represents the life in Italy and in North Carolina, the Waldensian Trail of Faith in Valdese, N.C. Included in this village is a sawmill belted to the engine operated by the Waldensians.

Looking for help
Last summer I was asked to look at the engine and see if anything could be done to make it work properly. It had to be helped with an electric motor to operate the sawmill for show.
There were no identifying marks on the engine and it looked to be between 15 and 20 HP. There was no cam gear on the engine and it had what appeared to be ported exhaust.

My first impression was that it was some sort of unusual 2-cycle engine. I took several photos and then began the long task of going through all the pages of C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 to try to identify it. Not too far into the book I found a Carl Anderson Co. engine that looked very close. Luckily, I found mention of a patent number, and a search on the number turned up a lot of information about the operating principle of the engine.

The essence of the patent was the exhaust pushrod mechanism and the linkage that accomplished the “skip” feature. Actually, it should be called an “engagement” feature instead of a skip feature as the engine is designed to omit exhaust cycles all the time except when a power stroke occurs.