Yes, we are here!

In times like these our hobbies become lifesavers. At GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE and FARM COLLECTOR, we have been tracking down the most interesting and rare vintage farm machines and collections for more than 80 years combined! That includes researching and sourcing the best books on collectibles available anywhere. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-888-9098 or by email. Stay safe!

R. M. OWEN Had a Different Idea

| February/March 1996

  • Cylinder and valve chamber.
    Cylinder and valve chamber.
  • Side view of engine-generator set.
    Side view of engine-generator set.
  • Control shaft
    Control shaft: from left to right, drive gear, one way clutch, governor weights, plug valve and drive, ignition contacts.

  • Cylinder and valve chamber.
  • Side view of engine-generator set.
  • Control shaft

714 South 4th St. Hamilton, Montana 59840

R.M. Owen must have wanted to build a long-life, substantial home lighting plant for people who could not access public power sources.

His idea was to use a rotary valve in the engine. The valve itself was a cone-shaped plug with two recesses in the near vertical side of the plug. As the plug turned, the recesses provided a passage from the intake to the cylinder; then as it rotated further, it provided a passage from the cylinder to the exhaust port. Since the valve had two recesses diametrically opposite from each other, it was only necessary for the plug to rotate 180 degrees for the four cycles or 720 degrees of crank shaft rotation. This is a ratio of 4 to 1 crankshaft to valve rotation, different than any common four cycle engine.

This tapered plug caused other design problems. If the tapered plug was inserted into the receptacle with even a slight force it would bind or seize similar to the action of the Morse tape on a drill shank. To overcome this, the valve was driven by a spring loaded ramp. The ramp was in the form of a triple entry thread, and if the plug had a tendency to drag or bind, it would climb the ramp lifting the plug to relieve the drag.

The spring loaded ramp solved the binding problem if the direction was always in the forward direction, but if for some reason the direction was reversed, due to backfire or reversed cranking, the ramp would force the plug down and it would bind. To prevent this, a one way clutch was inserted in the drive shaft to the valve to prevent any backward rotation. If backward rotation did occur the dog type clutch would release. Then on forward motion the dogs would drop into their indents and operation would continue normally.

The unit is of a clean design with no external moving parts. The valve, oil pump, governor and timer contacts are all driven by a vertical shaft which in turn is driven by a helical gear on the main shaft. All moving parts are supplied with oil from the crank case by a rotary pump; even the outboard bearing on the generator is pressure lubricated.


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!

Facebook YouTube


click me