Jim Brown's 1902 1-1/2 HP 2-cycle Cushman, serial number 8. This engine is believed to be the oldest known Cushman in existence.
2001 was the 100th Anniversary of the Cushman Motor Works of Lincoln, Neb. To help celebrate the event, I was invited to bring 30 Cushman engines for a special display at the 25th Anniversary of the Camp Creek Threshers Show, July 20 and 21, 2001 in Waverly, Neb. The display featured what is believed to be the oldest known Cushman engine in existence, a 1-1/2 HP, 2-cycle horizontal engine bearing s/n 8 and a patent date of July 1, 1902. While the company was formed in 1901, it was incorporated in 1902, and the first patents were issued to Everett B. Cushman and his cousin Clinton Cushman in 1902. It is not clear how many, if any, engines were actually produced or sold in 1901.
When I received the 1902 engine it was mounted vertically, and was said to be a marine engine. However, based on the mounting bosses, the presence of a governor (minus some parts) and other features, it is clear this is a horizontal stationary engine, not a marine engine. The missing governor parts and base will be made using scaled down reproductions off of the 3 HP horizontal engine, s/n 158, patent date July 1, 1903, which I also displayed at the show.
The display at Camp Creek included an extensive array of ages, sizes, models and types of Cushman engines and equipment. Among the other older engines in the display were a 1905 2 HP, 2-cycle vertical marine Cushman with s/n 1766, and a 1906 4HP, 2-cycle vertical marine engine with s/n 2273.
Engine sizes ranged from the very early 1-1/2 HP, 2-cycle serial number 8, to the 20 HP, 2-cylinder, 4-cycle s/n 127 on its original cart, the largest farm/industrial engine made by Cushman. Also displayed were a 15 HP 2-cylinder, a 10 HP 2-cylinder and two 8 HP, 2-cylinder engines on unique, original carts with the 'CUSHMAN' name cast in the front bolster, one featuring magneto ignition and round cooling tank, the other having a battery/coil ignition and rectangular cooling tank.
Other unusual Cushmans in the display included two examples of the Model BB engine, which was designed and sold as either a vertical (Type V, 3 HP) or horizontal (Type H, 5 HP) engine using the same block/cylinder, head, internal parts and flywheels, but with the engine turned 90 degrees on the base.
A lineup of some of the earliest Cushman's around, including (left to right) the 1902 1-1/2 HP, a 1903 3 HP, 2-cycle, serial number 158, a 1905 2 HP, 2-cycle marine engine, serial number 1766, and a 19064 HP marine, serial number 2273.
Just visible to the left is a Cushman 4 HP Model C generator outift, while to its right a 10 HP shares billing with a 20 HP Cushman on its original cart.
Two 8 HP Cushman Model 44 engines on original carts. If you look closely you can see the Cushman name cast into the frame of the carts.
Also displayed were examples of Cushman engines manufactured for and sold under other company names, including the Cushman Cub engines sold by Sears & Roebuck of Chicago, Ill. as the Sears Farm Master, the Massey-Harris version sold by the Massey-Harris Tractor Company of Ontario, Canada and the Bean Cub Special sold by the Bean Sprayer Company of San Jose, Calif.
A lot of spectators - and even other collectors - were amazed to learn that Cushman made engines as large as the 20 HP or as old as the 1902 2-cycle. Many people were also surprised to know that Cushman sold generator outfits in the 1911-1916 period and the self-propelled Bob-a-Lawn lawn mowers in the 1920s. A generator unit mounted on original Cushman cast-iron legs was displayed, as well as three variations of the mowers, including one from 1926 featuring the earliest production design of Cushman's air-cooled engine.
In addition to the engines, I displayed part of my collection of original literature and memorabilia, including watch fobs, stick pins, celluloid badges, postcards, engine name plates and steel advertising signs, all related to the early years of the Cushman Motor Works when the marine and farm/stationary engines were designed and manufactured.
Most people think of Cushman's famous scooters when the name Cushman is mentioned, but this display helped create a greater awareness of the many Cushman products that preceded the later, and perhaps better-known, two-wheeler. More importantly, seeing this array of early Cushman designs gave viewers an appreciation for the true genius of Everett B. Cushman and his dedication to producing lightweight, precision machined and uniquely designed engines. His achievements are even more impressive when we realize the internal combustion engine had been invented a relatively few years before Everett produced his first engines. A man of vision, hard work and faith, he accomplished much. Among his peers at that time was Henry Ford, whose love of tinkering with mechanical things led to the Detroit Automobile Company incorporated in 1899, now known as The Ford Motor Company. As 1901 approached, William Harley and Arthur Davidson were teaming up to develop a 'motorized bicycle,' now know as the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. Pretty good company!
Contact Cushman enthusiast Jim L. Brown at: 7309 Baldwin Ave., Lincoln, NE 68507, (402) 466-7363, or e-mail at: BrownCushman@aol.com