Stover catalogs show history, development and versatility

| June 2006

Stover catalogs can be used as a valuable tool to study Stover engine development. The early catalogs show the basic engine design while later catalogs describe the many uses of the engines. A study of the catalogs reveals both technical development and the progression of engine application. The foreign catalogs not only show the products, but they tell us about the world markets that Stover sold to. The following is not a definitive history of Stover, but merely significant observations from specific catalogs. A study of the original Stover records will show overlap of production types in certain years.

1902 catalog

This is the earliest catalog I have. Bennett Bros. Co., Lowell, Mass., is stamped in blue ink on the first page. The engines are all closed-cylinder, tank-cooled. The 1902 catalog shows the conventional pushrod Stovers we recognize today. Early advertisements indicate Stover was selling a horizontal sideshaft engine. It is not known if any of these engines have survived or even how many were made, but they were phased out by 1902. The 1902 catalog shows horizontal engines up to 12 HP and vertical engines no larger than 4 HP. These engines are larger and heavier than later engines of the same horsepower.

The horizontal and vertical engines pictured in this catalog have no fuel pumps. The Stover name is cast in relief on the cylinders. The governor is built into the camshaft gear on both types of engine and they have square pushrods. The vertical engines are shown with "beehive"-type fuel mixers and "Stover Engine Works - Freeport Ill. USA" cast into the flywheels. There is no drip oiler shown on the vertical engines, but a compression release valve is present. All the engines are shown with low-tension igniter ignition. Only one engine is shown with an identification plate. It is rectangular and appears to be cast.

The catalog recommends using the engines to run feed grinders, water pumps, corn shellers, fanning mills, wood saws and even ice cream freezers. Most of these operations are illustrated.

The testimonials found in the catalog are of special interest because they give us a glimpse of Stover engine use in the 19th century. It's pretty hard to find someone from this early period to ask about actually using Stover engines. Nine testimonials are listed in the back of the catalog and they were all received between November and December of 1901. The Hawley Brothers of McConnell, Ill., wrote: "I wish to inform you that the six horse power engine I purchased from you in September, 1898 has given perfect satisfaction thus far. Will run anything on my farm that can be run with six horsepower engine. We run wood saw, corn husker, feed grinder and corn sheller. Has not cost one cent for repairs as yet and runs like a watch." This particular testimonial is important because it's a good indication that Stover was selling engines by at least 1898. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if Hawley's engine was one of the elusive sideshafts.

1906 Stover - Buenos Aires

This catalog is written in Spanish but is quite fascinating. The agent is Juan Shaw and Hijos. Sometime in 1903 all Stover engines changed from square to round pushrods, and fuel pumps with overflow fuel mixers were used. All the engines in this catalog have these changes. However, while the vertical engines still have the governor in the cam gear, the horizontal engines have the new style flywheel governor. The vertical engines are shown in 2, 3 and 5 HP. Five to 50 HP horizontal engines were available. The engines all have the closed-cylinder cooling system since Stover didn't offer hopper cooling until 1910. In addition to all the typical saw rigs, pumping outfits, etc., are Stover motor launches (boats), "tractors" and even a Stover-powered railroad locomotive.


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