I would like to share a picture and some information on the
Alpha line of engines. I am under the impression that they were
manufactured by a Lauson engine company, although they were sold by
De Laval Dairy Supply of San Francisco and Seattle.
The instruction manual that I have a copy of, thanks to Dick
Squires, president of branch No. 6 tells that the word Alpha, the
first letter in the Greek alphabet was to mean First Quality. These
engines portable and semi-portable were manufactured in sizes from
2 h.p. to 28 h.p. gas and kerosene. They also built multi-cylinder
engines up to four cylinders. These were rated from 18 to 100
This engine is gasoline burning with throttling governor. It is
rated at 10 h.p. with 24′ dia. pulley with 7′ face having
325 revolutions per minute. Type D. with serial No. of 8609. Also
has a Summter low tension mag with igniter. The weight of engine
and original truck is 2825 pounds. I do not know the date of
manufacturing of this engine but the manual was printed in 1913 and
it shows identical picture. I would like some help if any one can,
on dating this engine.
This engine was sitting under the eve of a barn for about thirty
years, as the owners uncle told him. This man had bought the ranch
from his uncle prior to me finding the engine. When I inquired
about an old engine sitting by the barn he said he didn’t think
there was one. He told me he would meet me there in about one half
an hour. So friend and I went to have a look see. Well you all know
how these old work horses look alter a lengthy retirement, SAD.
The owner arrived and asked what we had found, and we all took a
look. He said he thought it was some kind of an old gear reduction
or something. This makes this fellow about 35 years old, not
knowing the difference between a gasoline engine and a gear
reduction. Piled on top was an old saw mandrel and wooden frame.
Well, how do you get around to that question? Would you consider
selling it? He came up with that certain eye twinkle that you
didn’t know for sure what he was thinking. And then said how
about twenty-five dollars. At first I thought that was a lot of
green for that pile of tired metal.
Upon disassembling I found only two small parts missing, which I
was able to fabricate in my welding shop. Along with stuck piston,
burnt valves, rust, grease, and holes in the gas tank, I had begun
to wonder if I had gotten stung.
The instruction manual states that De Laval guaranteed the mag
for the life of the engine. This was the understatement of the
ages. This is a six magnet mag, and ZAP. After thirty-five years in
the weather and one spin with my finger in the wrong place I was
six sheets in the wind on that spark. I would of hated to have
gotten the spark when the mag was new.
The engine starts very easily and runs at a very nice even pace
and makes a nice show piece and power plant.
An Alpha engine — see story.