Nelson Brothers Company History

| January/February 1993

  • Nelson Brothers Company
    This is an update for GEM readers concerning work that is being done on the history of Nelson Brothers Company. This process is still in the information gathering stage, requiring much more input from Nelson engine owners, and the holders of literature pe

  • Nelson Brothers Company

11 Pleasant Street Milford, Massachusetts 01757

A brief outline of important progress that has already been made is presented in this article. As we all know, Nelson Brothers was the maker of the 'Jumbo Line' of gasoline/kerosene engines. They were also the maker of a nearly identical line of trade-name engines, likely sold through Nelson's marketing arm, Royal Engine Company.

Current Trade Names Attributed to Nelson Bros. Engines

2,3 Bluffton

1,4 Gray

1,3,4 Monarch

1,2,3 Sattley

1,3,4 Bohon

3 Hapgood Plow

4 National

M. W. Savage Co. (see Patch & Northome)


2 Brown (Fence & Wire Co.)

3 Hertzler & Zook

1,3,4 National Chief

4 Sheldon

Charles Williams (see Maynard)

4' Hush

National Farm Equip. Co. (see Chief)



4 Dairy King


4 Nelson

4 John M.Smythe(1? HP)

1,2,3,4 Dan/Dazzle Patch

1,2,3,4 (Little) Jumbo

4 New Model

Smyth-Desspard (see Krackerjack)

1,2,3,4 Detroit (Engine Works)

1,3 Krackerjack

1,2,3,4 Northome

4 Standard Motor Parts Co.

4 Drew


4 Ohio

Stover (small air-cooled)

4 Dunn's

4 Lyons

1,4 Ontario (Wind Engine Co.)

1,3,4 Sun (Power)


1,3 MacLeod

1 Page (Wire & Fence Co.)

1 Thorndike

4 Efficiency

4 Mandt

1,2,3,4 P&O Plow

4 (Little) Trojan

4 Elbro

1,2,3,4 Maynard

1,3 Pittsburgh Pump

3 United Type C

4 Essex


Royal (see Monarch)

United Factories (see Unito)

1,3 Essick

4 Michigan

1,2,3,4 Samsco

1,4 Unito

4 Ever-Ready

4 Minnekota


4 Winnipeg Boy

4 Franklin


4 Sandow


Key to notations: 1) visual verification of tagged engine; 2) visual identification in original advertisement; 3) identification of photo in book or magazine; 4) named in period literature (Webster booklet, Millards directory, etc.).

In the box below is a current list of trade names commonly attributed to Nelson Bros. Additions continue to be made. Preceding each are marks indicating its current verification status. Note, Nelson was not the only supplier of some models.

Only notations 1 & 2 in the table of current engines on the previous page are considered conclusive evidence. I will carry no listing in the final draft for which conclusive evidence has not been presented. Any information on the above listings is needed. Names such as Bluffton, Maynard, Sattley, Detroit, Gray, Unito, and others were supplied at one time or another by manufacturers other than Nelson, or indeed started out building their own engines. In most cases, Nelson was the final supplier; providing a most price-competitive, full product line including cement mixers, generators, grinding mills, saws and pump rigs.

These trade-name vendor changes, Nelson models and years supplied, must be identified for all listings. Any existing literature, ads, or mail-order sales catalogs containing Nelson equipment is needed. Based on current information, the Nelson engine models offered were as follows:

Nelson Models & HP Ratings

A 1? HP

F* 6-7 HP

B 1? HP

FB' 6-7 HP

C* 2?-3 HP

J 12 HP

CA' 2? - 3 HP

N' 1? - 1? HP

CB 2? - 3 HP

P 1?-1? HP

CC* 2? - 3 HP

T* 1? HP

D* 4? - 5 HP

TA 1? HP)

DA* 4? 5 HP

U 2 HP

DB' 4? - 5 HP


Small, high-speed engine line:



HB, XB 5/8 HP






Symbols: (*) denotes Jumbo Line only; (') denotes trade-name only.

As noted in the box at bottom left, horsepower ratings were increased at some point, I believe without any change in design. An initial identification of an engine as Nelson Bros. can be made by finding one of the model designations given above in most all of the casting numbers on the engine. There was some parts interchange between models.

Rob Jess
4/21/2010 2:42:14 PM

This is about my Jumbo C 3HP engine, found under 20 tons of musty hay in a barn in Northern Ireland. We dug it out in 1988, it had been on its side under the hay for probably 40 years, the rats and mice were none too impressed at being made homeless! Mine was brought from a hardware dealer in Belfast called Brownlees. They marketed the Nelson Bros Jumbo line under their own name of 'The Brownlees Handy-Boy'. I have been told by a couple of Irish collectors that demand was so great, they ran out of 'Handy-Boys' and stop-gap deliveries of 'Jumbo Line' were obtained from the London EC1 importers. I assume this is where mine came from. Apparently, they were very popular at one time, but very few survived the scrap-yard. I have been trying to find out more about it for years, glad I stumbled upon your site - it looks great.


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