A Study of the Bean Spray Pump Engines


| June/July 1994



6 HP 1920, radiator in flywheel'

6 HP 1920, radiator in flywheel.

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!