The ''Missouri Engine''
Ted Brookover's circa 1899 2-1/2 HP Industrial Iron Works, Shop No. 414, one of five known. His father, Calvin, owns a surviving 7 HP sideshaft engine. Three others, including a 3 HP, 5 HP and 16 HP, are in the hands of collectors in Missouri and Nebraska. Engine production from the company appears to have started around 1898 and ended 13 years later, in 1911.
In 1975 old iron was still pretty plentiful, and pretty cheap. Old Fairbanks-Morse Model Zs or IHC Model Ms could be picked up for a song, so when Ted Brookover and his dad, Calvin, paid $1,000 for an engine most people had never even heard of, people in the hobby thought they were crazy. 'Everybody thought we were insane, they said we were going to ruin the hobby,' Ted says. 'But, it's the only one of its kind, how do you put a price on that?'
Good question, and while there are probably as many answers as there are collectors, for Ted there's no question the engine he and his dad paid so much for so long ago was worth the price. Estimated to have been built some time around 1899, Ted's 2-1/2 HP Industrial Iron Works is one of only five known surviving engines made by the Clinton, Mo., firm, and it's the only surviving 2-1/2 HP.
Ted and his dad got into the old iron hobby in the early 1970s, not long before purchasing this engine, and it was through an encounter with Rolly Hines of Clinton, Mo., that they first learned of the Industrial Iron Works company. At the time, Rolly owned the sole surviving Industrial Iron Works 16 HP engine, a tank-cooled, sideshaft engine. Rolly knew of another Industrial Iron Works engine believed at the time to be in Independence, Kan., but that was all.
Not long after meeting Rolly, Calvin, looking to buy a steam engine, happened to be talking with Bill Barnes, proprietor of Old Bill's Museum in Liberty, Mo. A retired TWA pilot and collector, Bill's museum featured old farm equipment, a gun said to have belonged to Jesse James, cars, tractors, toys - and some engines.
Bill told Calvin he might sell one of his engines, so Calvin and Ted went to Liberty to see what they could find. What they found, of course, was the engine you see here.
Pulley side of engine with belt-drive, brass-geared water pump visible at bottom center. The brass fuel tank was originally destined to be cold water piping for the U.S.S. Enterprise's nuclear reactor.
Ted's had this engine for 27 years, but it's not just a show piece. Ted built the igniter from a raw casting he had made, and since then he estimates it's tripped over 350,000 times. Ted rebuilt the igniter for the first time last year.
When Ted bought the Industrial Iron Works it was incomplete, not running and, to be fair, a bit cobbled up. 'It was a block, two flywheels, and the head and valves. All the peripherals were missing. There was no water pump, it had a natural gas carb on it and an Eisemann four-cylinder tractor mag with all four wires twisted together into one,' Ted says.
Even so, Ted was able to get the engine running once he got it home, and a subsequent tear-down revealed the engine to be in good shape. Inspection of the bearings showed them to be fine, the piston was removed, inspected and put back in, and the valves were lapped to ensure good compression. But getting the engine back to its original state took a number of years. First up was the natural gas carburetor, which Ted was able to replace with, very possibly, the original carburetor from this engine. How he got the carburetor is a story in itself.
The spring after buying the 2-1/2 HP engine, Ted and Calvin were driving through Tightwad, Mo., when they spied a pair of flywheels sitting in the overgrowth just off the road. Turning around to investigate, they discovered the flywheels were connected to a 7 HP, hopper-cooled, sideshaft Industrial Iron Works engine on a factory buzz saw rig. And it was for sale.
Ted and Calvin bought the 7 HP engine, and the owner told them he had at one time owned a number of Industrial Iron Works engines, saying he had scrapped at least six of the smaller ones during the scrap drives of WW II. Ted remembers him telling them he scrapped everything but the brass.
Later that same year, the man who sold them the 7 HP passed away, and at his estate auction Ted discovered six early 'upside down' Lunkenheimer brass carbs. The flutter valve on these Lunkenheimers is, by design, at the top of the unit, but on first-generation models the Lunkenheimer name appears upside down when the carburetor is mounted. This was changed on second-generation models so the name would appear right side up.
Close up of cylinder head showing valve arrangement, igniter and igniter trip mechanism. Note Ted's 'spark saver' modification, in which the rod responsible for holding tension on the intake during over-run also lifts the igniter trip to interrupt spark to the engine.
Close up shot of the Phanstiehl magneto on the Industrial Iron Works engine. Although not original to this engine, Ted says this magneto is 'era correct.'
Ted bid successfully for one of these, and he believes it's possible it came off one of the engines the man scrapped during WW II. 'There's a good chance this carb came off of one of those, so it could be original. There's every chance this came off, if not this engine, one just like it,' Ted says.
The igniter is another interesting story. When Ted bought this engine the igniter was missing and an adapter plate with a spark plug had been installed in its place. After Ted and his dad bought the 7 HP engine they discovered it apparently used an identical igniter, as it fit the 2-1/2 HP engine perfectly. Using the 7 HP igniter as a pattern, Ted made a mold and then had his own casting made, machining the final piece from there. That was in 1975, and just last year Ted rebuilt the igniter for the first time. In the interval, Ted estimates it has been tripped around 350,000 times. 'It deserved to be rebuilt,' Ted says.
The cooling tank is a cut-down water tank that came with the engine, and Ted fabricated the screen cooler. The brass gas tank was originally scrap, salvaged from the scrap pile at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va., by Ted's grandfather sometime around 1960 when he was working on the U.S.S. Enterprise's construction. The brass tank, originally designed to be part of the cold water piping for the U.S.S. Enterprise's nuclear reactor, is 4.25-inches in diameter and has a wall thickness of 1/2-inch with top and bottom plates 1/8-inch thick.
The Industrial Iron Works logo as interpreted by Ted Brookover. With no surviving company literature, Ted designed a logo he felt fit the company's products.
It's interesting to note that this engine is equipped with hot tube ignition capability. Ted thinks it was set up this way to allow the operator to conserve on battery or magneto power when needed. He notes the magneto appears to have originally been mounted so it could be pivoted out of the way when running hot tube ignition.
Ted didn't install a magneto until 1998, when he sourced the pre-1908 Phanstiehl low-tension magneto currently sparking the engine. 'It was merely a function of taking that long to find a mag I was comfortable with,' Ted says. 'This one is close enough in era that I'm comfortable with it on the enqine.'
That desire to be era correct has driven Ted's restoration of this engine. The brass-geared water pump, for example, 'may or may not be correct,' Ted says, but it is era correct. The same goes for the six, matched Lunkenheimer Sentinel oilers, which Ted says were probably built in the teens.
In fact, about the only thing Ted can't pin down as being correct is the Industrial Iron Works logo he fashioned for the cooling tank. That item, he says, is simply his interpretation of the company and how he imagines they might have fashioned a logo.
With no surviving factory literature it's possible we'll never know any more about the company, but thanks to Ted's careful restoration of this surviving 2-1/4 HP engine we have a running, working legacy of the Industrial Iron Works.
Richard Backus is editor of Gas Engine Magazine. Contact engine enthusiast Ted Brookover at: 4801 E. Red Bridge Rd., Kansas City, MO 64137, or e-mail at: email@example.com
Industrial Iron Works was in business at least by 1896, building ore cars, carts, track and other mining-related equipment for Peabody Coal Co.'s coal mining operations outside of Clinton, Mo.
When the coal ran out Industrial Iron Works shifted production to satisfy the light industrial and agricultural markets, manufacturing hay rakes, balers and engines. Engine production started around 1898, and indications are the company prospered in its new capacity for a few years, building perhaps 30 to 40 engines a year along side its other offerings. Engines ranging from 2 HP to 20 HP were built.
Unfortunately, Industrial Iron Works was one of the casualties of an increasingly competitive market, and in 1911 the company went into receivership. After a fire in 1913 destroyed its foundry, Industrial Iron Works ceased operations. It would appear the last 'Missouri Engine,' as they were known in their time, was built in 1911.
The engine featured here carries Shop No. 414. The number refers to the engine's order in line in the production of any number of items coming from Industrial Iron Works. It's possible, for example, that Shop No. 413 was a hay rake and Shop No. 415 a baler.