A Reclaimed Schmidt Gas Engine

By Staff
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Air cooled model
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The engine 'before' restoration
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Cylinder with the fins ground off.
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Schmidt's Chilled Cylinder Gasoline engine after restoration.
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Schmidt's Chilled Cylinder Gasoline engine after restoration.

11239 Allegheny Road, Forestville, New York 14062

In Western New York, along the shore of Lake Erie, lie the
remains of dairy farms that date from the 1800’s and early
1900’s. A big labor saver arrived on the scene, when gas
engines replaced hand pumps for watering animals, for spraying, and
all those other farm chores. One farm put an engine in a shed and
belted it to a line shaft that ran into the barn where a pump was
located. This arrangement worked for many years, until more modern
methods came along. The engine finally was pulled to the side of
the farmer’s house and there it sat.

Forty years later, I was on my way in to town, when I noticed
said engine next to the house, but now within a small patch of
saplings. It was late autumn and the leaves had fallen, making it
visible. Asking Mr. Sommer, son of the original owner, if I could
look at it, I was led to the saplings and told the opening history.
Still sticking from the end of the barn is the wooden pulley and
line shaft. The engine had fallen on hard times. Mr. Sommer put oil
on the various parts every year and the piston and flywheels were
free, but this was an upright air cooled model and the cooling fins
had disintegrated, and the cylinder broken in half. He was about
ready to haul this iron to the junkpile. The nameplate read:
Schmidt’s Chilled Cylinder, 3 HP, Type H, Serial #4125. We
struck a deal and I came back to load it the next day.

Checking in American Gasoline Engines, I found that here was
quite a peculiar engine and wondered if there was any way to
restore such a mess. The cylinder was sent out west to a foundry
that does repairs, but it came back marked as too far gone. The
next spring at the Chautauqua County Antique Equipment Gas Up, it
was suggested that I see Ray Enser, a dab hand at welding. If the
fins were ground off, possibly he could weld the cylinder back
together. This was done and my cousin, Jerry Hartloff, made eleven
new fins of steel on a machine that follows a template, cuts with
acetylene, and turns out exact copies. Mr. Enser then took over and
after a while unveiled his work. He made a form to tightly slide
the cylinder over. The fins also had to slide on before welding, as
the top and bottom are wider than the actual cylinder wall. Ray
claims that this project was probably his most difficult. The
result was amazing.

The gas tank, fan and shroud had long since rusted off. Mr.
William Smith of California, who had written a Schmidt article in
GEM, sent a bit of original fan for measurement. Our local
tinsmith, John Hershberger, made a new tank of stainless steel and
supplied material for the fan. After valve and ignition work,
painting, and cart building, the Schmidt was finally ready to
start. On the second turn of the flywheel, away it went and ran
quite smoothly to boot. Its first show was at the Chautauqua County
Antique Equipment Show this August where many photos and videos
were taken. This project seemed hopeless when first started a year
and a half ago but the results are far beyond what I could have

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