A Brief Word

| April/May 1992

McVicker Automatic Engine


Larry Harding

A while back, Bill Garman, 3457 Western Ave., Mattoon, IL 61938 forwarded a package of photocopy material on Kohler engines. Bill's letter accompanying this material noted that there seems to be a lack of information on Kohler at the present time, even though Kohler is still in business.

Bill is not critical of Kohler in this regard, nor are we! After all, Kohler is in business to make money, and let's face it folks, there's not a whole lot to be made in photocopying old catalogs. The other problem, and a much larger one, is the changeover to computers. In this day and age, most of the current information is stored on com puter...everything from inventories to how many orders came from Bumfizzle, Brazil over the past year. From a company viewpoint, there is simply no need to computerize a lot of non-current machines, and apparently, this is what happened. Perhaps it would be correct to state that our hobby is fortunate in having as much material as we do, considering that the great majority of the gas engine and tractor builders are long gone.

While paging through Morrison's American Diesel Engines the other day, we ran across some interesting facts about the Mietz & Weiss engine. (Although many of our readers have probably never seen a Mietz &. Weiss, they are a very rare and highly desirable engine for your stable.) Morrison states that Mietz &. Weiss brought out this engine in 1895. It was intended to meet the demand for a small engine suitable for coast-guard and lighthouse applications. The Mietz & Weiss is of the hot-bulb, two-stroke, low-compression oil engine design and uses crankcase scavenging. After 1905 this engine was distinguished by the employment of the cooling jacket as a steam generator. A float maintained a constant water level, and the steam was admitted with the scavenging air into the cylinder. This arrangement was very successful in maintaining an even cylinder temperature. Under heavier loads, more steam was generated, and so the design was essentially automatic. Morrison goes on to state that hundreds of these engines were sold prior to 1912, but after that, sales declined, and the company quit building them in 1922.

Some confusion also exists concerning the Fairbanks-Morse Type Y oil engines. These were built first in 1912, and the original design was horizontal, with the verticals coming later. Initially, the compression was 90 pounds, and this was later raised to 120 pounds. A little later, the compression was raised to 160 pounds, and finally to 220 pounds per square inch. These various changes took place between 1912 and 1924. At the latter date, Fairbanks-Morse again altered the design, and began production of the solid injection system with a precombustion chamber. With this design the compression pressure was raised to 500 psi, and in fact, the requirement was that compression be between 480 and 520 psi. Thus did the Type Y vertical engines evolve into the Fairbanks-Morse Model 32 diesels. Thousands of these engines operated in the United States and in many other parts of the world. A final note...the Model 32 saw numerous changes during its long production period. Most had to do with squeezing additional horsepower out of the engine, and included the use of a new cylinder design with larger air passages. That is why the original Model 32 design used a cylinder with a straight jacket, and the later models have a large hump at the bottom of the cylinder. This modification was needed to enlarge the air passages, and by so doing, the naturally aspirated, 14x17 inch design went from 60 horsepower per cylinder up to 75 horsepower.

Our first question this month is:

27/4/1 McVicker Engines Q. Can you tell me the proper color scheme for a McVicker engine? Mine is a 4 HP, Type 1DD, s/n 6252. Roger Eldred, 10750 S. Vroman Rd., Sheperd, Ml 48883.