12-Horsepower Krueger-Atlas Engine at Texas A&M University

By Staff
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After restoration was complete, June 1993.
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March 23, 1993, loaded on a trailer for the trip south.
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March 25, 1993. Returned to College Station for restoration.
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The Krueger at the Stonewall Engine Show in June 1993.

Department of Agricultural Engineering College Station, Texas
77845

This beautifully restored 12 horsepower Krueger-Atlas gasoline
engine belongs to the Department of Agricultural Engineering at
Texas A&M University. The engine was given to the Department in
the early 1900s, and was used in the departmental engine laboratory
until the late 1950s. The Krueger-Atlas engine was manufactured in
San Antonio, Texas, by the San Antonio Machine and Supply Company,
also known as SAMSCO.

The earliest known mention of this engine is found in the 1915
Catalog of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now
Texas A&M University). The section of this catalog dealing with
the Agricultural Engineering Department states, in part, that,
‘The farm motors laboratory is equipped with twenty different
types of stationary gas engines, including Gil-son, R. & V.,
and Krueger Atlas portable engines, seven different types of
traction engines . . .’

In the early 1900s, the use of internal combustion engines on
the farm was becoming a major emphasis in the curriculum for
agricultural engineers at Texas A&M. These engines, with their
open crankcases, were used to demonstrate the principles of
operation of an internal combustion engine. The Krueger-Atlas
engine was also equipped with a ‘prony brake,’ an early
means of measuring horsepower. The testing of farm engines was, and
still is, a major function of agricultural engineers.

Away from the college, this type or engine could have been used
for several tasks. It was equipped with a clutch-pulley which
facilitated connection to the load. Some typical jobs for this size
engine would be to power a small sawmill, an irrigation pump, a
feed grinder or a small light plant.

As more modern engine designs were developed, the Krueger-Atlas
engine was gradually removed from service. By the late 1950s it was
used for demonstrations only, and in 1968 it was given a thick coat
of red paint and placed in a warehouse for storage.

The engine was mostly forgotten until the early 1980s, when
Charles Reeves, a farmer and engine collector from Edmonson, Texas,
heard about a Krueger-Atlas engine at Texas A&M and began a 10
year hunt to locate the lost prize. Charles made several trips to
College Station trying to locate the engine, to no avail. Finally,
in the fall of 1991, Charles got a good lead. He was referred to
Henry O’Neal, a power and machinery specialist in the
agricultural engineering department. Henry had no idea about any
old engines, but he told Charles that if anyone would know about
that type of stuff it would be Bill Aldred. Bill is in charge of
the departmental inventory and has been a member of our staff since
the early 1950s. Sure enough, when Charles called Bill Aldred, Bill
knew right away what he was looking for. I would give anything to
have been with Charles when they went to the warehouse and there
sat the old engine.

Next came the fun part. There was no way for the university to
give the engine to Charles. Likewise, the department did not want
to put the engine up for public auction. Therefore, a Memorandum of
Agreement was drawn up, giving Charles custody of the engine for a
period of three years, to ‘restore and display at events of
historical significance.’ In August of 1992, Charles came to
College Station, loaded up the old Krueger, and took it to Edmonson
for restoration.

One other interesting point bears mention. I am an agricultural
engineer at Texas A&.M and have been involved in the
restoration of a 1914 vintage cotton gin at Burton, a small town
about 45 miles from College Station. Anyway, that is another story.
Through my involvement at the gin, I have become keenly interested
in old farm stuff.

One of the people I have gotten to know from this work is O.B.
Maloy from Austin, Texas, an expert on Krueger-Atlas engines.
Sometime about 1991, O.B. asked me if I knew anything about a
Krueger-Atlas engine that had been given to Texas A&M back in
the early part of the century. I assured him that there was ‘no
way that engine could still be around.’ Little did I know that
this rare engine was ‘right in my back yard.’

During the summer of 1992, I got wind of the engine. In December
of 1992 I was in Lubbock, so I went up to Edmonson to see Charles
and discuss the restoration. That winter, Charles decided that he
did not have the time to restore the engine, so he and I agreed to
bring the Krueger back home to Texas A&M. On the evening of
March 23, 1993, Charles and I loaded the engine on my trailer and I
headed south. By 2:00 P.M. the next day, I was sitting in front of
O.B. Maloy’s house in Austin.

The engine was painted red and had been in storage since 1968.
The entire engine, valve stems, igniter, fuel pump, etc. had been
painted. After removing paint from a few critical parts, and with
assistance from O.B. Maloy, the engine was started on March 24,
1993 for the first time in at least 25 years.

It is worthy to note the method of starting a Krueger-Atlas
engine as described in the 1912 catalog: ‘It is only necessary
to turn the flywheel forward a half turn, drawing in a charge, then
to pull the wheel back sharply against the compression, when the
igniter will automatically trip and the engine will start
immediately. It will do this, not occasionally, before the cylinder
gets cold, but always. This feature will be greatly appreciated by
those persons who have been annoyed and harassed in cranking hard
starting engines.’

The first step in restoration was to build a set of skids to
facilitate transportation. A water tank and gas tank were also
fabricated and installed. This work was completed by mid-April of
1993, just in time for the Burton Cotton Gin Festival. We had a
very fine engine show, this being the first year for an
‘organized, official’ show. The Festival is held the third
weekend in April each year, when the wildflowers are beautiful and
there is no snow anywhere within 400 miles. The big pecan trees
make a wonderful shade for our engines. The ‘theme’ of next
year’s engine show will be Krueger-Atlas engines, so anyone
that has a Krueger engine, we want to invite you to come on
down.

On June 11, 1993 the engine was completely disassembled and the
red paint was removed. Unfortunately, there was also a coat of
orange paint, followed by the factory black. After removing all of
the paint, the engine was primed and painted with black acrylic
enamel, which gives it the high gloss appearance. During the
disassembly, a new rocker arm was cast to replace the original,
which had been broken and welded. The engine was reassembled and
running on June 22, 1993, in time to make it to the Fredericksburg
Show later that week. There were 10 Krueger-Atlas engines at this
show and several people commented that, ‘Krueger-Atlas engines
sure are common, since it seems that everybody has one.’
According to my count, there are only about 42 of these engines
known to exist.

This engine is a living example of the heritage of agricultural
engineers across the land. Today agricultural engineers specialize
in crop processing, farm structures, soil and water conservation,
and agricultural pollution control, as well as farm power and
machinery.

Anyone interested in information about the Burton Gin Festival
and Engine Show can contact me at 409-845-9796 or 409-693-9355. The
1994 Festival will be held April 15-17, 1994.

Some facts about this engine: engine type is horizontal
cylinder, four-stroke cycle. The engine alone weighs 3,600 lbs.,
the complete rig 4,000 lbs. Fuel is gasoline. Bore and stroke, 7.25
x 12 inches; thermo-siphoned water cooling system; induction
coil/igniter ignition system, flyball governor, and hit-and-miss
speed control.

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