Recovery and Restoration of a 1919 10 HP Style U Stover Engine

Engine education: the restoration of a discovered Stover Style U gas engine

| February/March 2011

I recently recovered two Stover engines from my wife Mary’s family ranch. The ranch has been in the family since her great-grandfather, Joe Montgomery, homesteaded it in 1905. In 1924 another adjacent ranch was purchased because of its good water and incorporated into the ranch. Sometime in the next year or so these two Stovers were purchased. One, a 1926 2 HP Stover Style KA was used to pump water at a well. The other, a 1919 10 HP Style U Stover engine, is the gas engine this article is about.

Both engines were purchased by my wife’s great-grandfather sometime between 1924 and 1927 from Findlaters Hardware in San Angelo, Texas. The engines were then brought to the ranch which is south of Fort Stockton, Texas. What puzzled me was how could he have purchased the Style U engine between 1924 and 1927 when it was made in 1919? Upon obtaining the shipping records from Joe Maurer, it seems the engine was first shipped to the Crane Co. of Chicago in 1920 and then went back to the factory only to make its way to Texas in June 1925. Mystery solved!

This Style U engine was used to pump water that was in a large stock tank next to the engine, approximately three miles in distance and 400 feet uphill to another section of the ranch where there was not a good supply of water. The pump’s final location is unknown. It is our best guess that the engine was used until 1956 when electricity came to the ranch and the engine was replaced with a submersible pump. Some of the piping on the engine is galvanized and this helps support the theory of its use until the 50s. Unfortunately my wife’s grandfather, who would have been the last person in the family to use the engine, passed in the 1990s before there was interest in the engine’s history. I have been unable to find any purchase receipts or records from Findlaters Hardware.

Bit by the engine bug 
In the past, while at a friend’s house, my friend’s father Clyde demonstrated his hit-and-miss engines for me. I thought they were interesting but like most guys my age (35) I had very little interest in them. On a trip out to the ranch I noticed one of these engines by chance and asked if I could have it to restore. This engine was the 2 HP Stover KA. It was rusted solid and missing everything that was brass. I took it home, proceeded to disassemble it and only broke one minor part.

While I’m decent with my hands, doing work on cars and things mechanical, there were several things that needed machining. I didn’t have the resources or knowledge to do this. It was then that I was introduced to Bill Becker who is a master machinist. Bill helped me restore the Style KA engine to tip-top shape and we became good friends in the process. If it wasn’t for Bill’s help and Clyde’s inspiration I wouldn’t be in this hobby.

 Well, we all know how you can’t just have one engine. Back at the ranch there was one more engine. I asked my mother–in-law Beverly Landgraf if I could have this engine as well. She must have thought I did a good job with the first engine as she said yes. I’ve been told that several people have attempted to purchase it over the years. As these engines are part of the family history I don’t consider myself the owner of these engines, but rather their steward as they are currently on their fourth generation of the family.


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