REFLECTIONS

A Brief Word


| May/June 1991



Hockett tractorg

FPE 7-9

The other day we got some information from the Gemini Engine Company at Corpus Christi, Texas. In 1978, Gas Compressors Inc., of Corpus Christi bought the Witte D120 and G260 engine models from Lister-Petter at Olathe, Kansas. The name was changed to Gemini, and these engines have been in production ever since. Gemini also uses the same engine block in building their natural gas compressors. The engines are used to power the gas compressors, oilwell pump jacks, and electric generators. Recently, the General Manager of Gemini acquired a Witte Model AD diesel engine. This engine is said to have been one of the sets used by Admiral Richard Byrd on his Polar Expedition of 1939. The engine was owned by Lister up to 1968. Mr. John Smidl, who owned Witte in the 1960's, remembers this engine being on display in the lobby of U.S. Steel during their ownership of the Witte factory.

We have heard of or have seen some references to the use of Witte diesels in Byrd's Polar Expedition. However, we have been unable to locate anything in this regard. If anyone can be of help, kindly let us know, or direct your response to: Mr. B. Charles Ulrich, General Manager, Gemini Engine Company, P.O. Box 9258, Corpus Christi, TX 78469.

See photos FPE7-9 and FPE7-12 illustrating the Hockett tractor. These illustrations are from an 1896 issue of Farm Machinery. Back in 1893, J. A. Hockett and others decided to form the Gasoline Thresher & Plow Company at Sterling, Kansas. It is said that the company folded after about three years, so these illustrations of the 1896 model might well show the last of the breed. Relatively little information has come to light on this early tractor, but of course, the Hockett had its day in the sun nearly a century ago. An earlier model of the Hockett tractor appears on page 142 of Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors. Should any of our readers have further information on this company, we will be glad to hear from you. Back in the January 1991 issue, one of our readers presented what he believed to be the correct formula for calculating gas engine horsepower, and stating that a formula presented ten years ago in GEM was in error. That brought a terse response from another reader who claimed that the original formula was correct, and that the newly presented one was, in fact, wrong! Ye olde Reflector caught a substantial amount of flak as well, for 'publishing faulty information.'

Readers, please understand that, except for our answers to questions and our beginning and closing editorials, what you read in this column is essentially what's writ to us by our readers. We try to screen out obvious errors or typos, but we do not even try to check out each and every comment for mathematical or historical accuracy. For example, we often get requests for serial number or paint color information. Where possible, we answer these questions to the best of our ability. However, we all have to realize that much of this information is not based on written historical data, but from lists that might themselves be in error (and there are numerous examples). Considerable other information is based on the observations of numerous readers, and thus is considered to be reasonably accurate.

Ye olde Reflector would greatly prefer that if a glaring error is detected, that you write us and let us know. However, we would also ask that you contact the writer of the alleged error. Who knows, maybe the villain will be the prince? After all, we all share the commonality of wanting to preserve and advance the world's greatest hobby. Thus, we sincerely doubt that anyone is in the business of promoting inaccurate information, or in a worst case scenario, wholesale quantities of bovine scatology. Ye olde Reflector plays a very small role, in the overall picture of Gas Engine Magazine. Yet, we are happy to serve as an 'information broker' whereby we might all benefit. So, we ask all of our readers to be patient with each other. If ye olde Reflector or one of our readers makes a mistake, why not write to the writer and explain to him the error?

While we're on the subject of calculating horsepower, it should be borne in mind that there are indeed several different formulas for same. Bear in mind also that these are empirical formulae that do not account for such things as various fuels, the type of manifold, the car-buretion, ring drag and other friction factors, ambient air temperature, and numerous other variables.