Single-Cylinder Beilfuss Automobile Engine

By Staff
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David Pfaff, who works with the non-profit R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan, sent in some photos and information about the The Beilfuss Motor Co., Lansing, Michigan, which made a number of interesting engines, including horizontal singles and opposed twins. David writes:

The Beilfuss Motor Co., organized by Richard A.F. Beilfuss, was incorporated on June 4, 1902, with capitalization of $15,000. It was located at the corner of Saginaw Street and the Michigan Central Railroad (701 East Saginaw) in Lansing, Michigan. MotorWay reported in 1902 that Beilfuss would build gasoline engines for automobiles, in addition to the stationary type. Their initial offering was a single-cylinder, horizontal unit that developed 8 hp at 750rpm for automotive application, with a weight of 350 pounds. It featured a sideshaft valve train, gear-driven from the end of the crankshaft. The intake valve was of the atmospheric style.

Their stationary engine, a vertical design, was reportedly made in 2 hp to 7 hp outputs. In 1905, Beilfuss announced the availability of a new 16 hp, 2-cylinder, opposed-style automobile engine with a weight of 300 pounds. It featured a 5-inch bore and stroke. A 1908 advertisement in Gas Power featured a 2-cylinder opposed stationary engine producing 13-15 hp with a weight of 560 pounds, touted for stationary, portable, electric and general use. A notice in PowerBoating promoted the Beilfuss marine engine.

In 1910, Beilfuss advertised their 2-cylinder automobile engine, either air cooled with 10-12 hp or water cooled with a choice of 10-12 hp or 18-20 hp. The Beilfuss automobile engine was promoted as an original equipment unit for builders of “assembled” automobiles and as a replacement for worn-out engines in existing autos. The company was in business through 1912.

A single-cylinder Beilfuss automobile engine was recently donated to The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. This engine is from the automotive collection of Don and Ken McDowell, well-known collectors of all things automotive, especially Lansing related. The engine was mounted in their 1899 Oldsmobile electric when they acquired it 1959, the sole survivor of R.E. Olds’ early foray into battery-powered vehicles. An early attempt had been made to convert it from battery to gasoline power. The conversion was never completed, and the vehicle has recently been converted back to its original electrical configuration and is currently on display in the museum.

The engine has been cosmetically restored and mounted on a display stand along with the planetary transmission that was found with the engine. The engine turns over readily, and perhaps has never been run. The exhaust valve train is missing. The intake is atmospheric. Our thanks go to Ken McDowell for his generous donation of this rare piece of Lansing industrial history along with his continuing loan of the 1899 Oldsmobile.

David Pfaff
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
240 Museum Dr.
Lansing, MI 48933

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