Coolspring Spotlight: 1911 15 HP Foos

The 1911 15 HP Foos engine is paired with a 12 KW dynamo.

| February/March 2015

Manufacturer: Foos Gas Engine Co., Springfield, OH
Year: 1911
Serial Number: 30113
Bore: 8-inch
Stroke: 14-inch
Ignition: KW high-tension magneto
Governing: Throttle

This display consists of a 1911 15 HP Foos throttle-governed engine driving a General Electric DC dynamo. The engine is typical of Type S Foos engines, although it’s a little unusual in that it has a KW high-tension magneto on it.

The engine’s last use was pumping a small oil well on Seybertown Road in East Brady, Pennsylvania. This well was owned by the late Robert Peters, who was a friend of the museum and provided much local oil field history, as well as other knowledge.

Mr. Peters said he wanted an engine to pump the oil well in his front yard, which was a rather prominent place. He had a beautiful white house and was erecting a little white powerhouse, so he wanted quality equipment. Somewhere along the line he had seen a Foos engine and was impressed with its smoothness and quality. He soon found one, advertised in a Pittsburgh newspaper, that had been removed from a small municipal waterworks in that area.

Mr. Peters purchased the engine and it was shipped to him in East Brady, where he unloaded it from the rail car and transported it to his lease. Soon, he found that the engine had very small flywheels and didn’t quite have the mass to adequately pump his well. So he went to a junkyard in Butler, Pennsylvania, where he found a pair of large 15 HP Foos flywheels that he took home and mounted on the engine. Those turned out to be too heavy, so he took them off and returned them to the junkyard. Luck was with him, as he found the nice set of electric lighting wheels the engine now proudly wears.

The 12 KW dynamo that it’s driving may be a little bit older than the engine, but it’s certainly representative of the type of dynamo that an engine like this would have driven when it was new. In this installation, it provides power to light incandescent lights in the Lillibridge Station, where it resides. It’s been at the museum since the mid-1980s.


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