Flywheel Forum

Readers' Engine Questions

| December/January 2003

38/12/1: Query of the Month -Pontiac Gas Engine

At last summer's engine show in Portland, Ind., we ran into engine collector David Akridge, owner of the Pontiac engine shown here. David, who bought the engine at the spring swap meet in Portland, doesn't know much about the engine, and he'd like to find out more about the company and his particular unit.

The nameplate identifies the engine as a product of Pontiac Tractor Co., Pontiac, Mich., but provides little other information. There's no serial number stamped on the plate, nor is the engine's horsepower stamped on the plate. There was a Pontiac Tractor Co. in the tractor business from about 1917 to 1919, but whether that same company produced this engine is unknown. Very little is known about these units -they're not even mentioned in C. H. Wendel's American Gas Engines Since 1872 - and we can't find any mention of the make in back issues of GEM. The gentleman David bought the engine from suggested it was largely original, but it's clearly been repainted at some time. Interestingly, at least two other Pontiac engines were at the show; one on display and another for sale in the swap meet area.

The engine has some interesting features, most notably a cast iron pipe running horizontally through the hopper. David says it's been suggested that this pipe could have been used to pre-heat pesticides for spraying. David says the pipe is plugged at both ends with a cork stopper and is rusted out inside the hopper.

Another curious feature is the engine's spring-loaded crankcase breather, just visible at the right rear of the crankcase. David runs the engine with the breather cap barely lifted off its seat (supported by a toothpick inserted between the cap and its seat), since crankcase pressure bubbles up through the cylinder oiler if he doesn't.

David thinks the engine is about 1 HP, and he says it's equipped with a Model T piston and carburetor, with ignition supplied from a Model T buzz coil. It's a quality unit, and David says 'whoever built this did a good job. I'd say they were 10 years ahead of their time.' If anyone knows more about this engine, contact David Akridge, 168 N. Skyline Drive, Louiseville, KY 00229; (502) 957-3541, and please drop us a line here at GEM, as well.