A Study of the Bean Spray Pump Engines

By Staff
1 / 6
6 HP 1920, radiator in flywheel.
2 / 6
1927 4 HP, straight side radiator.
3 / 6
1921 6 HP with hexagonal radiator.
4 / 6
4 HP and 6 HP.
5 / 6
1927 4 HP, Wico EK Mag.
6 / 6
1920 6 HP battery ignition.

20531 Black Road Los Gatos, California 95030

Twenty-five years went by before the Bean Spray Company felt the
need to mechanize the orchard sprayers by using a Fairbanks-Morse
gas engine for power. It was a T’ type of engine, approximately
2 HP, and for the moment it was enough to power the spray pump. The
whole thing was drawn by two horses. About the same time, they
bought the Ostenberg Engine Works from down on First Street in San
Jose. The Ostenberg was an opposed, two-cylinder engine for use on
pumps used in some irrigation situations where electricity
wasn’t available. These were produced in various sizes from 10
to 22 HP.

Then came the opportunity to open an Eastern branch and factory
in Lansing, Michigan, and they gave the Novo engine people their
first order for a carload of engines! This led to a long standing
relationship with Novo.

The experience that the Bean Company had with manufacturing the
Ostenberg led them to believe that they could start to make their
own sprayer engine and thereby keep the cost down, so negotiations
were started with E. B. Cushman, the famous engineer, who with his
brother had started the outstanding Cushman Company in Lincoln,
Nebraska. The challenge was to build an engine with the same size
and be self contained and be of twice the horsepower as the
previously used Novo. The first thing to get it rolling was to hire
Cushman and he was put on the payroll. As an early catalog states,
‘He was installed as head of the Engineering Department.’
In early 1920 they had an engine of the first approved design with
the radiator set within the flywheel, which was of open style with
five spokes and with a crankshaft driven water pump. This was a
comparatively high speed design of 800 RPM, which called for a
positive valve lifter for the intake valve rather than the
atmospheric intake valve. This engine was to produce 6 HP, compared
with the same size Novo they had been using, with only 3 HP. Along
with many other minor improvements, it went into production.

By the time the first 800 engines were built and on the line,
Bean had a stronger crankshaft, three changes of the cylinder head,
a change in water pump, and some minor changes. These engines were
available with American Bosch magnetos, or battery ignition with a
timer similar to a Model ‘T’ Ford. By the time serial
number 800 came along, the radiator had been moved to between the
flywheel and engine and was hexagonal in shape. Then they came out
with a 4 HP and it was a bit smaller in every way, except it still
came with an American Bosch magneto. This engine was used to power
the dusters and smaller sprayers. Even serial numbers were assigned
to the 4 HP engines and, for some reason, the odd numbers were
assigned to the 6 HP engines. The smaller engines were more popular
in foreign countries, and so we find the shipments of these to Jas.
Robertson, Capetown, South Africa and Buzacott & Co., New South
Wales, Australia among the foreign addresses. They also shipped to
Mitsui &Co., Ltd., in Yokohama, Japan, as well as A. G. Kids
ton & Co., Durban, South Africa; the Hawaiian Sugar Grs., in
Honolulu Territory of Hawaii; Ivory Bros., Ltd., Napier, New
Zealand; and to Agricola Bunster in Angora, Chile. These firms were
Bean representatives in their respective areas.

There were many changes made in the Bean engines over the ten
years of production, some being made for economy and some being
made to improve the engine, for instance, the move to EK Wico
magneto from Bosch rotary mag. The catalogs listed the EK Wico at
$18.00, while the Bosch magneto was shown at $31.00! How inflation
has changed the prices on some things!

At this time the change over to the so-called ‘suction
carburetor’ was made. This carburetor eliminated the fuel pump
and simplified the entire air feed to the carburetor. Constant
changes were being made to the engine and it was evident that this
was not the way to go. The late Bill Quanchi, who came to work for
Bean in 1916 and never worked for anyone else, said that one day
the Boss came storming through the plant and said, ‘Get these
things over across the street and stop the whole production
line!’ That was the beginning of the end for the Bean engine,
and they went to Witte, Cushman Cubs, Continental, LeRoi, and
several other makers of engines.

Hindsight is always 20-20, they say. It seems like bit off more
than they could chew, and should have left the making of engines to
the companies that were successful.

To my knowledge, the total of these engines, 4 HP and 6 HP,
remains at less than 6500. This is estimated from the shipping
numbers, which may be at risk as there are several blank areas.
Were these engines never shipped out, or, were the numbers assigned
to Lansing, Michigan, and not reported or what? Another question is
the color.

We run across the local (San Jose) warm gray color most often,
but that seems logical, as they were a local engine produced in
this Santa Clara Valley for local orchardists. But we have heard
from a man in the eastern part of the country and he reports that
he has an engine that is dark green! If you have definite proof of
a different color, please let us know and we will add that color to
the second!

We almost never see one of these engines at an engine show or
gas-up, and from that would rate them as ‘collectible’ and
therefore desirable. Totally enclosed, no monkey motion, and with
no splash-guards or other outside equipment they are an interesting

For more information on this company, refer to the August 1985
issue of GEM. This interesting company has grown over the years to
become one of the several who combined to become known as FMC. For
more on their story, see Growing Orbit: The Story of FMC
. We’re indebted to the many engine collectors
who contributed to this information.

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