3904 47th Ave. S., Seattle, Washington 98118
The small hit and miss, pop skip and pop engines performed a good pioneering function for the American farmer. We might say he cut his teeth on the single cylinder gasoline engine as he learned the principle of the two and four cycle internal combustion engines with these early machines. His knowledge of these engines prepared him for the first gasoline engine tractors, as many were powered with single cylinder engines when they were marketed. These tractors increased his capacity in being able to till more land and increase his earnings, so he was able financially to buy and know how to operate the automobile when they made their first appearance in the country.
In the vicinity of the state border between Wisconsin and Illinois came a large production of some of the most popular gasoline engines. In Rockford and Freeport, Illinois, and in Beloit, Wisconsin, was located the nation's largest gasoline engine manufacturers. At Rockford was located the National Engine Company and the Savage & Love Manufacturing Company. Then at Beloit, just across the state line in Wisconsin was Fairbanks, Morse & Company, Beloit Works, and at one time another company known as The J. Thompson & Sons Manufacturing Company.
Freeport, Illinois, is located in Steph-enson County where a fine museum under the name of this county is housed in a pre-Civil War period, beautiful, stone home known as 'Bohemiana.' This site was donated by the family of Oscar and Malvina Taylor, and within its spacious grounds are located many species of trees in the arboretum, together with a farm exhibit of early Americana and a display of the Stover Manufacturing and Engine Company.
The founder, Daniel C. Stover, was born at Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in 1840. With his parents, they settled in Lanark, Illinois in 1864. Daniel came to Freeport in 1866. His career started here by going into the manufacturing of farm cultivators, wind mills, barb wire and nail making machines. Early catalogs and stationary of his company indicate that Daniel Stover started in business, before coming to Freeport, in the year of 1862.
The company was well established as Daniel was of an inventive nature and his first company was known as the Stover Experimental Works. Some years later in 1893, the Stover Engine Works was started as a separate organization. They built various types of gasoline engines in stationary and portable designs, and also made one to operate on alcohol. The company employed about 250 men. D. C. Stover was President, with Fred Smith as Secretary, Wm. J. Freidag as Superintendent. New additions were added to the factories from time to time, and in 1890 a 45 acre tract north of Henderson Street was purchased. Here the large plant was constructed.
After Daniel C. Stover passed away in 1908, the Stover Manufacturing Company and the Stover Engine Works were merged in 1916. W. A. Hance became President. In 1929 the business was purchased by local interests with Roy M. Bennethum as President and Ceneral Manager. John W. Henney, C. H. Creen and Lee Madden were part of the management of the company. At this time there were over 500 employed, building wind mills, feed grinders, engines and hardware.
Stover wind mills were built in a complete range of sizes from a 4? foot wheel up to and including a 20 foot diameter. The trade name of 'Samson' could be seen all over the country. In this department was the Stover single and double gear pump jacks. Their feed mills were sold under the name of 'Ideal Feed Mills.' They also built sweep mills, sacking elevators, wagon box elevators and flywheel type ensilage cutters.
Stover Engine Works was established in Freeport in 1901. The record of the
earliest engine manufactured by this company appears to be a vertical single cylinder four cycle machine with a closed crankcase. These engine? had two flywheels and a water-cooling tank mounted on the cylinder of the engine. The suction valve was automatic and was placed in the water-cooled head near the mechanically operated exhaust valve. Ignition was by a make and break ignitor, which was operated by a vertical push rod. The mixing valve was located on the side of the cylinder head and a fuel pump supplied the fuel to this valve with an overflow back to the main fuel tank. These engines were built in 3 hp. and 5 hp. and they were first marketed about 1905.
Possibly, there were other early models of Stover engines, as most companies developed many types and variations and improvements to engines as they were found successful and added sales features. By the 1920's the Stover line of engines was combined with auxiliary equipment to offer an electric light plant of ? K. W. capacity with a 2 hp. horizontal engine all mounted on a cast iron base, belt driven to the generator. This unit was their No. 120 Light Plant and could be had with a 150 amp Hr. storage battery for $373.00. It was advertised as 'Stover's Good Engine,' and was arranged for regular application on wood subbase, or skids. It was also available on four wheel truck for portable use. These engines were sold with either battery and spark coil ignition or Webster Oscillating Magneto.
By the 1930V the company had added many different features to their engines so a customer could choose from over twenty different modifications and sizes in both air and water-cooled models of the horizontal stationary units and high speed industrial types as listed here from their 1933-37 catalogs.
Stover Mfg. & Engine Co. 1933-1937
Gasoline, Kerosene and Diesel Engines
BORE & STROKE
DISPLACEMENT CU. IN.
2/4' x 2?'
1? x 2?
2?' x 2?'
1? x 2?
2?' x 2?'
2?' x 2?'
2 7/8' x 4'
2 7/8' x 4'
3 1/8' x 3?'
705 & 706
3?' X 4?'
720 & 721
3?' x 5'
730 & 731
4?' x 5'
740 & 741
4?' x 6'
807 & 809
5?' x 8'
831 & 832
6?' x 8'
3 7/8' x 5?'
4?' x 5?'
5' x 6?'
5?' x 6?'
Hit & Miss Governor
Hit & Miss Governor
The above engines were available in a number of combination outfits with pump jacks, water pumps, diaphragm pumps, and the diesels were combined with generators for electric light plants and marine auxiliaries.
In 1938 the company experienced labor trouble and the costly shutdown caused them to close their operations and sell the plant in 1940. In 1942 Fairbanks-Morse purchased the Stover factory and converted it to build electric motors and generators. They also put on the market a small diesel engine similar to the Stover -- Style 1205, in two sizes; a 5? hp. and 10? hp. Model 45B single cylinder. This small unit was of the most modern design, having a roller bearing crankshaft, replaceable cylinder liner, overhead valves, electric starter and pressure lubrication. Bore was 3 1/8' and stroke 4', the displacement of 30 cu. in. and a Lanova type combustion chamber.
Another engine company or dealer in engines was at one time located in Beloit, Wisconsin, named The J. Thompson & Sons Manufacturing Company, advertised in the North West Magazine in 1898. This was printed in St. Paul. The advertisements of this company offered the Lewis Gasoline Engines for sale. No pictures or description of the Lewis Engines were shown in the ads and the connection between the two companies can only be assumed that Thompson was a dealer or distributor of the Lewis Engine. As a manufacturing company, Thompson also offered for sale a small air-cooled gasoline engine.
In the same North West Magazine of September 1898 the Globe Iron Works of Minneapolis, Minnesota, offered for sale the White Gas and Gasoline Engines. They were rated from 2/2 to 8 hp. and were of the horizontal closed single cylinder type with open crank and double flywheels all on a cast iron subbase. This company also advertised a marine engine but did not show an illustration, so it is not possible to conclude the type of marine engine offered.
This old magazine carried other engine advertisements such as one for a vapor engine by Piera Vapor Engine Company at Racine, Wisconsin, who offered stationary engines from 4 hp. to 20 hp. and marine engines from ? hp. to 4 hp. It would be interesting to learn more about such an engine and how many were actually put into service.
Fairbanks Morse Type Z engine model paper weight. Painted Fairbanks Morse green with red flywheels. It is placed on a bar of soap to show the contrasting size.
Milwaukee Machinery Company in 1898 in the November issue of this magazine advertised the Hamilton Gas Engines, which illustrated and showed a horizontal closed single cylinder engine with open crank and two heavy flywheels. A lay shaft on the side, operated igniter and valve operating cams. The flyball governor controlled the speed and it appeared to be of the hit and miss type.
Another ad for a Racine Gas Engine was shown in this November issue. It was also of the conventional horizontal type with the closed water jacketed cylinder, the open crank and flywheels on each side of the engines. It was fitted with both hot tube and electric battery ignition and these engines were built in sizes up to 12 hp. and were for sale by the Racine Hardware Company of Racine, Wisconsin.
Several more companies carried advertisements in this old magazine. The Minneapolis Gasoline Engine Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, offered another horizontal engine as well as Fairbanks, Morse & Company who advertised their entire line of engines, pumps, scales, wind mills and railroad hand cars, track laying tools and water stand pipes to supply locomotives with water. One other advertiser was The Millers Farmers Machinery Company who offered the complete line of 'Otto' gasoline engines from 2 hp. to 250 hp.
When John Froelich built the first gasoline farm tractor in 1892 at Froelich, Iowa, he used a Vanduzen single cylinder vertical engine mounted on a Robinson running gear. The transmission of the entire power to the traction wheels was accomplished for the first time, which also included a reverse gear.
The engine was patented and built by Benjamin C. Vanduzen of Winton Place, Ohio. Together with Ezra W. Vanduzen, they obtained their first engine patent No. 448,597 in March of 1891. These men were among the earliest designers and builders of the internal combustion engines in this country. They applied for their patent in 1888.
Their first engine had the basic idea of the modern 'L' head design. The exhaust and intake valves were set off from the combustion chamber so the valves could be actuated by push rods from cams on the extension of the camshaft to the outside of the crank-case. It was a closed crankcase with the timing gears located in the case. Placed above the open cams was a guide for the three push rods; two operating the suction and exhaust valves and a third controlled the valve to admit gas used as fuel. Along this fuel valve was a fitting containing the gas jet which was kept burning for the ignition. The fuel valve was timed and opened by the push rod from the middle cam. This fuel valve was fluted to permit the mixing of gas and air. It travelled vertically so when the port was opened to the gas jet flame, the explosion in the cylinder took place.
Ed Lammers of Fulda, Minnesota, takes his prized 12-25 Waterloo Boy, 1918, out of the shed in preparation for the Butterfield Threshermen's Third Annual Steam & Gas Engine Show. The Waterloo Boy was one of the many new additions to the Butterfield Show in 1969.
A unique governor is of the flyball type with a bell crank that changed the length of the time the suction valve is permitted to remain open. This was done by a special shaped cam on which the push rod follower ran. Using gas as fuel, this arrangement permits various amounts of fuel to enter the combustion space according to the required load. This is similar to the principle of the flyball governor on a steam engine which adjusts the throttle valve.
Gas was admitted from a gas main with an expansion gas bag, to control and even out the pressure on the suction valve of the engine. A cooling water tank was fitted to the side of the cylinder, with fitting for thermo circulation.
Another interesting detail stated in the description of the engine in the patent, 'that lubricating oil and water was contained in the bottom of the crankcase for lubrication of the interior of the cylinder, crank, wrist pin, spur wheels and the journal bearings.' This engine had one flywheel opposite the governor and push rod side and one drive pulley.
In the same year Benjamin Vanduzen was granted paten 600,754 which covered a truck mounted engine for a rather interesting portable power unit. The engine was different in design than the one mentioned above. The crankcase was not closed with timing gears running in the open and on a shaft parallel to the crankshaft. At each end of this timing gear shaft was mounted a crank disc. A connecting rod was attached to this crank disc and to a lever on each side of this single cylinder engine. The serni-vertical motion of these small connecting rods operated the valve push rods on this 'T' head engine. There was an additional push rod that operated the 'lighter-valve,' for the ignition from a hot tube, in a vertical tube called the chimney, in the nomenclature.
The engine was water-cooled with a large flat water tank attached under the engine and a water pump for circulation. Being a portable unit, gasoline was used for fuel and a blow torch type of burner mounted on the head of the cylinder to heat the hot ignition tube. The truck on which the engine was mounted was arranged with a tongue to be drawn by horses. A seat for the driver was placed between the front uprights that supported the roof or top over the entire unit.
This particular Vanduzen engine design included a number of advanced basic ideas. The arrangement of the valves and cylinder brought into use both the 'L' and 'T' head engine. The use of the lever operated valve push rods proposed the general idea of rocker arms for operating valves as used in modern engines. The enclosed crankcase was followed by many manufacturers in the period from 1895 to 1915. The record made with the first Froelich gasoline engine tractor, that used a Vanduzen-engine which harvested grain from Iowa to the Dakota's the first season, proved the dependability of his engine.
As the pioneers pushed farther west, the demand for mechanical power followed. New territories were opened for aggressive young engineers to start in business to supply the equipment that would serve these communities.
August Witte was one of these men. He set up shop in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1870, when the city had been in existence a little more than forty years. His original factory was small, where he designed and built steam engines to supply the market in that district. The business was successful and soon the demand for a larger factory wasnecessary. In 1886 his operation was moved to a building four times larger than the original plant. At this time Edward H. Witte, son of August, took control of the enterprise. He had grown up in the business and had finished school in New York City where he obtained his engineering education in the design and manufacturing procedures of the internal combustion engines.
A photo of the 1913 4 hp. United engine I have recently restored. I can't seem to make the igniter work. The push rod is homemade and the igniter is from a later Associated engine, so it may need some change. The push rod just pushes the points together and allows them to slip back instead o snapping them open.
From several ads in 1913 thru 1915 Farm Implement News it seems United Engines merged with another or became Associated Engine Company. Does anyone know for sure? The casting numbers on many parts of my engine are exactly the same as in a later Associated engine parts list.
The following year the Witte Works offered for sale their first 2? hp. hot tube ignition gasoline engine. It was a successful engine and was soon accepted by the farmers, industrial users, printers and was in good demand. This small unit was followed by new designs and improvements which expanded the available offerings in engines up to 80 hp.
By 1900 the third factory had been outgrown and a larger plant with over 16,000 square feet of floor space was built. This plant was only serviceable until 1907 when the large factory was built at Centropolis to take care of the ever increasing business.
During World War I the increased production of engines helped meet the demand for labor saving means on the farms and industry when so much man power was needed. They developed an engine powered log and tree saw which was advertised as the 'Saw with the Human Arm.'
These engines were simple and well designed horizontal single cylinder hopper-cooled machines with flyball type governor which operated a butterfly valve in the carburetor, which was arranged with two compartments. One was a small reservoir that contained gasoline for starting and then changed over to lower grades of fuel for more economical cost of operation. The gas tank was mounted right under the cylinder head and suction was used to transfer the fuel to the mixing valve. There were only three gears on these engines, so the few parts made them easy to repair and maintain. The small sizes could be had with battery ignition with a built-in battery timer.
Besides the skid mounted standard stationary units, they were also offered with a low four cast iron wheel truck and a two wheel truck like a wheelbarrow. The larger size engines were arranged for horsedrawn trucks for engines rated 5, 7, 10, 15 and 25 hp. A cord wood sawing outfit with the 5, 7 and 10 hp. engines were sold as a complete outfit. A log saw and tree saw outfit was powered with the 3 hp. engine.
The 'Power-Lite' electric light plant was available with a capacity of 700 watt 32 volt plant, all mounted on a cast iron subbase with belt driven generator.
The following were the engines in production in this period:
WITTE THROTTLING GOVERNOR ENGINES 1923
BORE & STROKE
3?' x 5'
4?' x 6'
5' x 6?'
The above engines were priced skid mounted and were mostly equipped with magnetos
*These were battery ignition.
In 1934 Witte began building small stationary diesel engines in 4 to 12 hp. The 4 hp. was a vertical single cylinder unit with electric starter, radiator-cooled with a power pulley or a twin disc clutch. This engine was built with a combined belt driven electric light plant. The 9 hp. vertical diesel engine was alsomade as a marine engine with a reduction and reverse gear. A lighting plant using the larger engine was sold having a capacity of 7.5 K.V.A. 115 volt generator.
A picture of a 2 hp. New Holland Engine which I completely restored. I started it for the first time here at Kinzers (Aug. 1969) twenty minutes after arrival and it ran all day.
A horizontal diesel engine in 6 and 10 hp. ratings were built in a power unit. In recent years larger engines were added to the line and following are the specifications:
BORE & STROKE
3?' x 4?'
4?' x 6'
4?' x 5?'
5' x 8'
4?' x 5?'
4?' x 5?'
In order to perpetuate and maintain the name and goodwill of the company, Edward H. Witte arranged for consolidation of the company with the Oil Well Supply Company, which in turn was a subsidiary of United States Steel Company. This took place in 1944 and the company operated under this organization until a group of the personnel made arrangements to take over the manufacture of the present Model 100 and 120 diesel engines. The plant was moved to Olathe, Kansas. It is also under consideration for the new Witte Engine Company of Olathe, Kansas, to build the Model 5AD - 14 hp. CD and 9 hp. BD. This is one of the few engine manufacturers to continue in business today building a small size stationary engine of the improved diesel engine type.
There was considerable interest shown by many of the readers of G.E.M. wanting information about the old engine manufacturers in the various states. It kept me busy sending out the lists and I hope more engine history will be forthcoming from those who will do investigations of companies near them -to learn all they can about the men who built the engines and possibly locate some of the old antiques to add to their collections.