12/14 Simplicity Engine

About This Engine

| May/June 2000

This 12/14 hp Simplicity engine was originally bought new from the implement shop of Jacob C. Biederwolf by William Kaufmann Sr. and son Ernest Kaufmann. William and Ernest purchased the engine sometime between 1910 and 1915, using it on their farm near Sheboygan (Located on South 12th Street, just south of the Chicago & Northwestern RR spur line).

In 1919 they traded it in for a tractor. It was then sold to my grandfather, John A. Rammer, who used it on his 69-acre farm in the town of Wilson until 1921. (This farm was located east of the Chicago & North western RR tracks on County Truck V.) At this time ownership of the farm and all its equipment was transferred to his son, Martin W. Rammer, who ran the farm until he retired in 1960. During that time the engine was used for belt power to run the feed cutter, wood saw, and some straw chopping. In October of 1925 a cold spell caused the water to freeze in the water jacket around the piston, breaking the head. This damage (which can be seen on the head) cost Martin $4-30 to have repaired.

When WW II broke out, it became all Americans' patriot duty to bring in their old scrap iron for use in the war effort. It was at this time that most hit & miss engines met their fate. Martin was approached by a scrap iron dealer about selling the engine for scrap, but since the engine was still operational, he felt scrap price (which was a very good price, about $300) was not enough and opted instead to 'leave it where it sits.' In 1956, though it was running fine, the engine was used to fill the silo for the last time.

The engine became obsolete and it was 'abandoned' in the woodland of the family farm, which seemed to be the fate of most old farm equipment at that time. It sat in the woods near an old 1948 Oldsmobile to be abused by the elements and any bored hunters who happened to be passing by. Luckily, the favorite target of most hunters was the old car; when it was hauled away it was so riddled with holes that it looked like the car Bonnie and Clyde died in. The only thing that was ever shot out by hunters on the engine was the drip oiler on top. Had a slug hit either of the large cast iron flywheels it most certainly would have been the demise of one more old hit &. miss. Even a hole in the radiator would have made restoration much more difficult. The only real damage done was when someone became inquisitive and spun the engine over by its large flywheels. When they had their fun and left, it was with the piston in a position closest to the elements, causing the rings to seize to the cylinder wall.

In 1960 the farm once again passed on to the next generation, Clement Rammer. It was during the late '60s that interest in the old engines was growing stronger. I would hear of people talking about the large old engine in the Rammer woods, and fearing that parts may soon be 'growing legs,' I decided it was time to bring the rusty old engine home. Though room for equipment was scarce, a spot in the barn was cleared, and here it waited many years before restoration was begun. After retirement in the mid-1980s, restoration was started. Though I invested many hours in this project, very few parts were needed. All the wood had to be replaced, parts cleaned and painted, but to this day, this engine still runs with its original hardware, including piston, rings, and magneto.

We think the engine was rated a 12 HP when kerosene was used for fuel, and 14 HP when gasoline was used. The antique engine shows that I have attended did not show a large Simplicity engine of this size or larger, although there are many small Simplicitys on display. I'd like to know if others have as large or larger an engine as I have.


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