A Brief Word
We always find it interesting to peruse through our old books
and magazines. Of course, our major interest is in the development
of the internal combustion engine, and it’s amazing how quickly
the engine developed subsequent to the Otto Silent of 1876. By 1900
the gas engine was being built by numerous companies in the U.S.,
and the numbers continued to swell up to about 1920, after which
they declined steadily. Several reasons can be provided for this
First of all, the market was becoming saturated. Second,
electric power was being widely used, especially in the cities.
Third, the heavy cast iron engines of the past were being replaced
with smaller, lightweight and sometimes air-cooled designs that
weighed a fraction of their predecessors. They were easier to move
about, they were adaptable to many portable applications and
usually cost far less to buy.
With this background, it is fascinating that the internal
combustion engine developed so quickly – in less than two decades
from 1900, these engines had become well refinded. Several
companies rose to the top of the pot. Fairbanks-Morse built more
engines than anyone else, and following close behind was
International Harvester. The Stover and Witte engines were among
the major players, and all the others followed behind the industry
Fairbanks-Morse moved toward higher compression engines earlier
than most of the industry and, in fact, using higher compression
created ignition problems. It takes far more voltage (electrical
pressure) to fire an arc through compressed air than at atmospheric
pressure. The magnetos of the time simply weren’t up to the
task of higher compression, and eventually F-M designed and built
their own magnetos capable of solving the problem. Meanwhile,
during the ‘teens and early 1920s, F-M used many different
kinds of magnetos in order to find a satisfactory solution.
The famous Plugoscillator (built by Sumter) was a case in point.
The company eventually retrofitted a great many engines with a new
and more successful spark plug design.
Of all the gas engine builders, Fairbanks-Morse and
International Harvester probably spent more on research and
development than any of the others, perhaps more than all the rest
of them combined. John Deere was a popular entrant in the 1920s
with the introduction of their Type E engines in 1- HP, 3 HP and 6
HP sizes. This engine was immensely popular with farmers and
remains as one of the most popular vintage engines today. Of
course, the John Deere engines had the popular Waterloo Boy line as
their immediate ancestor.
We begin this issue with:
37/6/1: Unidentified Engine See the photos of
an engine that was donated to our club. It appears to be an
American engine, similar to that shown at top left on page 24 of
American Gas Engines. It appears to be complete, but we
need further information concerning its operation, the ignition,
etc. What is the function of the valve on the crankcase cover? We
would also like to know the function of the three-way valve below
the cylinder oiler. Any information would be appreciated. All
replies will be acknowledged. Ray Loewen, 2134 – 6 Avenue NW,
Calgary, Alberta T2N 0W7 Canada.
37/6/2: Dynamotor See the photo of a Dynamotor
from Western Electric Company. It is a Type P-1, No. 34091. Volts:
Primary 20, secondary 75. It is also equipped with a Tungar
rectifier from General Electric. The last patent is from 1918. This
unit is 30 inches long, 13 inches wide and 15 inches high. I am
told that this unit was used to produce power for the telephone
system. Any information would be very helpful in order to get it
running again. Douglas Poor, 12058 Adams, Yucaipa, CA 92399.
37/6/3: IHC Mogul Engine Q: Recently, I found
an old engine and pump. The engine is a 1 HP IHC Mogul with s/n
W22231. When was this engine built? The pump is by R. McDougall
Ltd., Galt, Canada. Would the engine likely have been sold with the
pump? (We think this is probable – Editor). I also note that most
readers are using DuPont paint on their engines. Is there a reason
for this? Any help would be appreciated (see the photos). Kevin
Bergen, #246 14424-88A St. NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5E 5Y4
A: First of all, your engine was built in 1918.
DuPont, Ditzler, S-W and Martin-Senour seem to be the major
choices. This is primarily because they have custom colors that
will match (or nearly so) the original colors. Most of these
original colors are no longer available as stock colors. Also, with
a suitable primer beneath, the newer acrylic colors are very
durable, and so a restoration lasts far longer than it would with
enamels from the old days.
37/6/4: Cushman Model C Q: I have a Cushman 4
HP Model C engine, s/n 40148 and would like to know when it was
built and the proper color. Bob Dunn, P.O. Box 376, Rushville, NE
A:We don’t know the production date for the
engine. We have DuPont 7498 Green listed for the Cub engines, and
DuPont 62713 Green listed for the verticals.
37/6/5: Wonder Engine Q: See the photos of a
Wonder engine. Wendel’s American Gas Engines shows a possible
manufacturer at Syracuse, N.Y. I’m looking for a possible
origin and the paint scheme. Also would like to hear from anyone
owning a Wonder engine. Any information would be greatly
appreciated. John W. Thorp, 407 Woodbine Street, LaPorte, IN
A: We’d suggest that this engine is an
Associated from Waterloo, Iowa. The Wonder trade name suggests to
us it was off a Wonder cement mixer from Construction Machinery
Corporation (CMC) of Waterloo.