The Boy Mechanic, His Engines, and His Old Oldsmobile

A former boy mechanic describes a little of his personal history with gas engines.

| January/February 1966

  • Oldsmobile Engines
    1904 Oldsmobile, which the author purchase in1907. Attached to the rear is a small trailer carrying a 1HP gasoline engine. The author began making and selling these engines in 1903.
    George C. Green

  • Oldsmobile Engines

This aging boy mechanic is pleased that you have started a gas engine magazine.

I was born December 5, 1885. My parents were James Green and Saloma Carrell. I guess the first thing I wanted to play with was an engine. My father was a good blacksmith and an all around mechanic. I have most of his blacksmith tools yet. I also use a blacksmith hammer that belonged to my grandfather. What I am about to tell you may sound doubtful, but it is the truth and I am not boasting either.

I took to gasoline engines and machine work and I spent every cent I could get for tools and machinery and looked at every catalog I could get. I went to see every steam or gasoline engine around the country. In 1902, when I was 16 years old, I designed in my head (no drawings), made the patterns, cast them in a foundry, and then machined them for my first gasoline engine. It was 1 hp. I horizontal-molded the bronze bearings in sand and cast them with a crucible in blacksmith fire. This engine ran the shop for seven years. It's still there, but now I have it to just play with. I built and sold a few of these engines, also some 6 hp.

Then the automobile came and I drifted into the garage business for a few years, along with the machine shop. In 1930, I took a used Otto gas engine, made in Philadelphia, and converted it to an 8 hp slow speed 340 rev per minute diesel. I made a new cylinder head and cylinder sleeve and piston and fuel pump and nozzle. It has run the shop 35 years.

Thirty years ago, I took a very old current generator and put on collector rings to take off alternating current. Being 4 pole spaded, it runs at 1800 rev. to give 60 cycle on V belt from flywheel. Since then, the engine has run twenty four hours a day and makes current for the house. Also, it ran one time 7 1/2 months without ever being stopped. I really believe it has run as many or more hours than any other diesel. It was a big saving for many years when fuel oil was cheaper and it is still used to help heat the shop—it certainly is a lot of satisfaction (you antique fellows know what I mean)

Of course, everything is not always rosy. In 1958, I got back one of the little 1 HP gasoline engines that I made and sold in 1903, cleaned it up and painted it and made a small one-wheel trailer to hook back of the 1904 1-cylinder curved dash Oldsmobile, which I bought in 1907 and have kept ever since. I take it to the Antique Engine and Thresher meets and I have the little engine running. You know, an old fellow has to be a boy once in awhile, even sometimes twice in a while.

Robert Cash
3/14/2018 10:55:52 AM

Great rating. Mr. Green is no less than a genius.