In December of 2002, I was trying to ward off the boredom that a cold Wisconsin winter offers, so I headed to the local auction house. After looking over that week’s tables and being disappointed in finding no gas engine equipment or material, I let my eyes wander to the items hung along a wall. I found a large antique clock that sparked my interest, so I located a seat in the crowded hall and began the wait.
Opening the door
Not long after I sat down, an older gentleman next to me began to strike up a conversation. Of course we hit all the easy topics like the high prices at the auction, the cold weather, where we live and our jobs. Before long he was telling me all about his former career as a dairy farmer. Having grown up on a dairy farm myself, we had plenty of stories to share. In the end, he told me he wished he wouldn’t have had to quit farming, but he had just gotten too old to keep up with the many demands it puts on a person.
We exchanged a few other stories before I could no longer fight back my eagerness, ‘Say, do you have any of those old flywheel hit-and-miss engines laying around anymore?’ He paused a brief while before saying, ‘Yes, I have a small red one in the old barn; I think it’s a horse and a half.’ Heart gently pounding, I calmly asked him, ‘Would you consider selling the engine?’ Maybe it’s the anticipation, or maybe the adrenaline, but that little word ‘yes’ seems to take on a magical ‘child-on-Christmas-morning’ quality when it comes directly after that question.
Christmas Eve day, Dad and I headed out to look at the little red engine. We got to his house, loaded up and went to the ‘other’ farm. In about 10 minutes we found ourselves standing in an old barn staring at the strangest little engine either of us had ever seen. It was tight and missing the muffler; however, it was still wearing its original Webster magneto, connecting rod greaser, pulley, oiler and 80 percent of the factory paint. It had everything that usually walks off of engines – talk about barn fresh.
Now I was excited – it was my second barn find that year! We talked a good while and finally came to an agreeable price on the engine and a neat hog oiler I spotted. I paid, loaded the engine and headed down the road. Almost immediately, Dad and I began retelling parts of the story to each other and before long we were having a good chuckle about how I happened on this engine and its unusualness.
Within a few days we had her running quite nicely, thanks to some expert advice and help from family friend, Ron Marcus, but still had no idea what kind of engine it was. My brother decided to clean the hardened grease off the hopper, and in the process, discovered a well-worn original decal that looked like a shield. A short while later, he also exposed various cast part numbers all beginning with the letters AK. With these discoveries and a Webster bracket number as my only clues, I began to research.
The Mystery 1-1/2 HP Sattley Engine
I looked at every engine in C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, sent pictures to Ed Deis at Hit and Miss Enterprises, and posted pictures of it on Engineads. Nothing could be found in Wendel’s, I virtually stumped Ed and only received a few leads from Engineads. Many people said, ‘Looks like it could be a Sattley, but then again I really don’t know – I’ve never seen an engine like that.’ And all gave advice similar to what Ted Brookover told me after seeing my engine on the Internet and comparing it to a previously unknown engine he had in his records: ‘I’ve been in the hobby for 30 years and these are the only two I’ve seen; I would hang onto it if I were you.’
Luckily, a few months later, I happened on a completed eBay auction of engine literature. As I scrolled down the page, there was a picture of my gas engine in a 1919 Sattley brochure, proof of my engine’s true origin. Regrettably, my copy of it was lost in a hard drive crash only days after I downloaded the picture. Since that time, I have searched other Sattley and Montgomery Ward advertisements, both pre- and post-1919, and have found no other reference to this engine.
Here are my findings from the research: The engine is a kerosene 1-1/2 HP throttle-governed Sattley equipped with a Webster magneto and bracket no. 303M9. It was produced by the Field-Brundage company and sold through the Montgomery Ward catalog. So far, I have only been able to locate six other engines – of those, four are only maybes (as in maybe they exist and maybe they don’t) and the remaining two are missing crucial parts and are seemingly inoperable.
If you don’t quite understand why this engine is so unusual, please take a moment to look at the carburetor. First of all, the head is dry and not the usual wet-head that you would associate with a kerosene engine. Second, the carburetor sits directly above the head at the 12 o’clock position as opposed to sitting beside the head at the normal 3 o’clock placement common on larger Sattleys. Third, is the openness of it all, on the magneto side of the carburetor there is a coverless opening where you pour in gas. A little better than half a Coke can fits in this reservoir and you use this gas to start and run the engine. Once the engine is running, the fuel pump, which is actuated up and down by a long bronze bar that rests on the outside of the exhaust rocker, begins to pump kerosene into the same reservoir that you primed with gasoline. The result is a slow leaning out of the gas into straight kerosene.
I could really use some help. If anyone has dated literature showing this exact size and style Sattley engine please contact me as I would like to approximate some production dates. Second, if you own one of these engines and have not already contacted me, I sure would like to talk. Finally, are there any Sattley experts that can shed some light on this engine, like: How rare are these engines? Was it a small experimental run or was it just unsuccessful and then discontinued? Could these engines exist under a name other than Sattley, like the Field-Brundage Wolverine?
Now, I know how common of an engine line the Sattleys were, especially being that they were sold through a major catalog. But when it gets right down to it, we are not talking about an entire engine line; rather, a specific size and style. I would appreciate any help in finding out if the engine I own is rare and unique or, as my title suggests, merely as common as a shoe.
Contact engine enthusiast Randy Reysen at: W. 8485 Church Drive, Adell, WI 53001; (920) 994-9588; email@example.com
The piece originally ran in the November 2004 Gas Engine Magazine.