3156 Waldron Rd. Kankakee, IL 60901
Most engine collectors are of the opinion that Heer (pronounced Her) Engine Company, of Portsmouth, Ohio, only made two cylinder opposed engines, and for all practical purposes, they are correct. However, a one cylinder Heer engine does exist. The Heer Engine Company was a takeover of The Ideal Manufacturing Company, of Portsmouth, about 1910. Chris Heer was president of the company and Oscar Ehrman was chief engineer and tool designer. The Ideal Company did make an upright single cylinder engine for a short time, but their main product was a two cylinder opposed engine. Chris Heer evidently agreed with the Ideal thinking, and all of their engines were of the two cylinder opposed style.
In 1912, Oscar Ehrman, designed a small, one cylinder, hopper cooled engine to see if Heer wanted to get into the small engine field. At this time, the smallest gas engine being made by Heer was a 10 HP opposed type. The 3' bore engine was built, but for some unknown reason, Heer decided against manufacturing them, and the idea was discarded. Mr. Ehrman evidently kept this sample engine, and used it at his home. In 1915, the firm was again reorganized as The Reliable Engine and Tractor Company, with Chris Heer as president, and Oscar Ehrman, chief engineer and designer. Mr. Heer evidently valued Mr. Ehrman's services as engineer, as the accompanying photocopy of a letter I have, concerning Mr. Ehrman's draft status shows. Whether the letter was effective, is unknown.
After the death of Mr. Ehrman, this engine was given to Cliff Comer, of Dayton, Ohio, by Mr. Ehrman's widow. Ehrman and Comer were close friends, both men being tool and die engineers. Upon Mr. Comer's death last February, (1985), I purchased the engine from his widow.
This engine has a 3' bore and a 3' stroke. Cast in the crankcase is: HEER, PORTS, O, EXP-ENG, 3 x 3. There are no other markings or numbers on the engine except the cam gear, which has number 2115/8 cast into it. The engine is throttle governed, battery and spark plug ignition, and has a ' Lunkenheimer mixer on it. The odd thing about the engine, is that Mr. Ehrman designed the engine to run counter-clockwise! It took Mr. Comer considerable time to realize this fact, the first time he tried to start it, after he acquired it from Mr. Ehrman's widow. I'm thankful that I had seen the engine run, while Comer owned it, and was aware of that fact. Otherwise, I might have fought it for some time, also. The engine is VERY heavy for its size. Possibly that was a factor when Chris Heer rejected it. Heer engines were noted for being lightweight in comparison to their horsepower.
The large Heer engines were utilized in the Heer four wheel drive tractor. I don't know if any of these tractors exist, todayI have never seen any at the numerous shows I have visited. I do have a brochure on the Heer tractor, and a brochure of the Reliable Heer two cylinder opposed portable engines, ranging from ten to fifty-five horsepower.
Editors Note: At the time this article was written, Mr. Irps intended to show his experimental engine at the following 1985 shows: Will County, Illinois, Sycamore, Illinois, Boswell, Indiana, Portland, Indiana and Colchester, Illinois.