Coolspring Spotlight: Circa-1900 4hp Star Engine

By Staff
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courtesy of Gas Engine Magazine Staff
Circa-1900 4hp Star

Circa-1900 4hp Star

Manufacturer: J.&E. Homan Co., New York, NY
Year:  Circa 1900
Serial No.: 334
Horsepower: 4 hp
Bore:  6-1/4in
Owner: John Rex

Star gas and gasoline engines were manufactured starting in the early 1890s in New York City by Jackson A. and Eugene Homan. Horizontal engines were built in eight sizes from 1 to 25 horsepower, and a vertical design was offered in 2 horsepower. Early engines were hot tube ignition with pendulum governing. Very little information has come to surface on the history of the company. The Star engine, with its high base and low mounted cylinder followed by high vertical main bearings, bear similarity to other East Coast builders such as White & Middleton and Backus. The Star wasn’t as successful as engines from those two builders, though, as production ended in the mid-1910s.

A large rusty cast iron stationary engine sitting on cement.


This Star engine features a large make-and-break igniter on top of the cylinder, which is operated by eccentric on the end of the camshaft. Speed is controlled by a detent lever holding open the exhaust valve, which is operated by the vertical flyball governor that is driven by a bevel gear on the backside of the cam gear. When the engine is “missing,” a fuel-saving device holds the intake valve on its seat to prevent gasoline from being wastefully admitted into the cylinder. Gasoline is supplied to the mixer by a unique horizontally-mounted fuel pump. This is located on the side of the base under the timing gears and is operated by a long lever from a cam on the camshaft.

A close up side view of the rusty stationary engine.


This engine served its duty operating a wood and metal working shop in East Woodstock, Connecticut. It was placed into preservation by Nate Lillibridge in 1971.

Showing the igniter on the top of the cylinder.

Learn about this engine and 38 others in Coolspring: Discovering America’s Finest Antique Engine Museum, Vol. 2. Order your copy on our website.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines