Lewis H. Cline talks about his collection of gas engine tractors.
We like the new magazine and hope it is a success. Here’s a rundown of my collection of gas engine tractors.
Our first engine was a Falk 3 hp, throttling governed, sold by
Advance Rumely. and was used on a 32 volt lighting plant
originally. The original owner had it in his basement and exhaust
was piped out the window. They found the noise objectionable so he
buried an oil drum and ran the exhaust into it. You could now
hardly hear it run and every thing was fine, at least so they
thought. A relative saw it and thought it a very good idea, so did
the same with his. However all was not fine for long, one morning
he had started it up and headed for the barn and it started missing
and pumped the drum full of unburned gas which exploded, making a
big hole in the ground, breaking the living room window, and a ten
foot square area of the Kellastone (a concrete stucco mixture) fell
off the house. Needless to say that was discontinued and the
relative did away with his.
This was a good engine, but we did not need 3 hp for pumping
water, so traded it for an International Titan 1.5 hp hit and miss governed which we used a
few years. I never liked this one very well. It was difficult to
keep the piston well oiled whether the ball valve was in the oil
cup or not. The oil cup was built too close to the back of the
cylinder, and by looking down the pipe you could see the top or
back ring on the piston pass it at the end of the power stroke, so
when it fired the pressure would come up through the oil cup.
making it hard to keep the oil cup filled and the piston oiled. I
also found the choke hard to keep properly adjusted. Next we had a
Fairbanks-Morse Type Z, 1.5 hp, hit and miss
and will say I don’t think a better engine was ever built, it
ran faithfully a stood many years, never spent a nickel for repairs
on it and it had the best compression of any I ever saw, is still
in the family, and still has very good compression. It would pump
water 24 hrs on a gallon of gas.
Some of my latest finds in the picture are four gas engines,
namely, from left to right: Mogul 1.5 hp,
New Way 2 hp, Rock Island 2 hp and Cushman 4 hp They are all
restored and running and mounted on trucks.
I also have a very nice 3 hp Stickney that still has its
piston stuck. I hope to have it running some of these days.
I traded a calf to a neighbor for a McCormick-Deering type M 1.5 hp throttle governed engine which had
done very little running. He said it would start ok, and as soon as
he turned his back on it, it would seem to flood and finally stall
and be all fouled up. He had several garagemen work on it but they
never helped it any. Was in hopes I could fix it, and on taking the
mixer apart found a small gasket between the jet and carburetor
bowl to be missing, replaced that, and it sure ran fine. Before
that it would start out ok, but as soon as the fuel pump had raised
the level in the mixer up to the let just before it got to the
overflow pipe it flooded and not having had a gasket there, leakage
allowed too much gas to reach the cylinder flooding it. I did not
at the time have any particular use for it and was offered a very
good price for it so sold it making a very handsome profit on
I must admit that this little tractor is very realistic. It
represents my first owned tractor in 1916. Note, the plow behind it
which was an Oliver 3 bottom 14 foot hand lift that was made
especially for the tractor.
I made every piece of this model with a pair of tin snips and a
gas torch, and all from flat galvanized iron except the flywheel.
It runs realistic, too, by tiny motor under the crankcase. I
don’t think I could do it again.
A few years later I purchased new, another similar engine, which
I used to operate a milking machine, also pump water, and drive a
six volt car generator all at the same time, and believe me that
engine was really loaded, developing considerably more than
it’s rated power and did so for about 22 years. It milked as
many as 21 cows, pumped all the water used on the farm, and the six
volt generator provided current for lights around the barn (through
automobile headlight bulbs) later supplemented by current from a
six volt home brew wind charger for use in the house and six volt
Knight radio. These headlight bulbs gave wonderful light, a similar
system is now on the market using step down transformer with low
voltage bulbs featured as high intensity light. It is a fact a low
voltage bulb with its shorter filament operating at its rated
voltage will give more candle power per watt than the higher
voltage bulbs. There seems to be an interference of light rays from
the longer filaments of the higher voltage bulbs. Two 25 watt bulbs
side by side will not give as much light as one 50 watt will for
the same reason.
If any one has any idea of using such a system they must take
into consideration that heavier wiring must be used from battery to
lamps, to avoid excessive voltage drop as well as possible
overheating and loss of power in the lines.
Here is a picture of my 2 hp Waterloo Boy engine, serial number
238338, type H. All original parts and runs good. Needs a little
adjusting and magneto repair.
My engine, generator and battery were in the milk house nearly
100 ft. from the barn where most of the lights were, I had two-one
inch pipes laid underground, one for milker vacuum and the other
for water from milk-house to barn, so hooked to both of these for
one side of the circuit, and used lightning rod cable for the other
side and so had very near full voltage at barn for the lights.
This old engine after all those years was still in very good
shape and was sold to a hobbyist in Ohio about 1957.
It was exposed frequently to sub zero temperatures in the milk
house and had done more than 20,000 hours running badly overloaded,
and never in all that time did I ever have to milk by hand. It
always would start quite readily. Nobody but myself ever laid a
wrench on it and repairs were a couple of new breaker points for
the Wico magneto, half a new connecting rod bearing and exhaust
valve. A pretty good record I think.
This is a 25 hp single cylinder Mogul tractor plowing in
Fuel used in it was mostly Michigan white (no leaded) gas,
except for a couple of years during the war, when I used Sunoco
tractor fuel (an excellent fuel). It would start and run just fine
on that. I kept several engines around the country running at that
time. A major cause of their troubles was burning of leaded
gasoline, Lead oxide would form on the exhaust valve stem and seat
making them set up and not seat well with loss of compression. Lead
oxide on spark plug porcelains fouled them as the dye in the gas
would form varnish and gum up carburetors. Some seemed to think the
more they paid for gas the better it would be, but not so in this
case. All they got for the extra money was the crud on plugs and
Some may wonder if I did not get detonation, using unleaded gas,
I did on the start but overcame that very effectively by rigging up
an extra needle valve to the mixer to feed some water along with
the fuel, which also kept the accumulation of carbon at minimum.
Back in the days when most tractors burned kerosene this system was
used widely. I have noted many engines have the cylinder oiler
directly over the cooling hopper close to the water and when it
gets hot the oil will practically run a stream instead of the 5 to
7 drops a minute. I think this is bad design, and could be easily
overcome with a little forethought. In fact I think some of these
designers missed their calling by quite a long ways. Also, I think
a lot of companies have gone to the wall, not because of poorly
designed products but due to poor management and other causes.
Myself on V. A. Case disking the field in May 1964.
I farmed for more than 30 years and well remember steam power
mostly when I was a kid and have seen a lot of change during that
time in farming methods.
First tractor I recollect was a single cylinder Rumely Oil Pull
15-20 hp. Was in country school at the time and about ten
o’clock started to hear a distant booming noise. At recess I
got outside to see it. It was about a mile away and plowing with a
5 bottom plow for a neighbor. When I got home that night my dad
took me over to see it. He knew the man who owned it and we rode
around the field on it. Soon after that a Bull tractor was bought a
few miles away. Next a neighbor bought an International Mogul 8-16,
single cylinder tractor with a self guiding affair consisting of a
couple of disks on a long arm extending ahead of it running in the
previously made furrow. This tractor was not too much of a success
at draw bar work through it did very well on the belt. They had a
lot of trouble with the left hand main bearing heating. A planetary
transmission was mounted on that end of the crankshaft, so the
bearing had to stand the speed of the motor as well as the pull of
the chain drive which was on that side of it. Most tractors in
those days did not run the right hand wheels in the furrow, thus
the self guiding mechanism. This tractor was used to operate a corn
shredder and one cold morning would not start right off, so they
got out the hay rope and wound it around the belt pulley and pulled
on it ‘tug of war’ fashion all of a sudden it started and
the rope caught, re-wound on the pulley and literally jerked them
all right out from under their hats. The same thing happened in
another instance only a horse was hitched to the rope and very
Photo of a trailer my son designed and I had it built and on it
are six engines mounted ready to go. They are as follows: 2 hp
Flinchbaugh-The York made in York, Pa., 1.5 hp International Model M, 1.5 hp New Holland, 1.5 hp Stattley by Montgomery Ward Co., 1.5 hp Economy by Sears Roebuck Co., 1.5 hp Maynard Charles Williams Co. These
last 3 are mail order engines. I have the original catalogs and
pictures of the engines.
I have been following these steam meets for about 3 years now
and here’s where the rub comes in and I can’t afford a
steam engine and I’m not inclined in building one so several
years ago I bought an old gasoline engine. I restored it and a fool
like I was, I sold it. I bought some more, these I kept and as of
now I have about 3 dozen. 10 of them restored like new and they run
the same way, in fact, I don’t use a crank. If they don’t
start by pulling the flywheels I wouldn’t have them. This, I am
told by old-timers, is unusual, but it’s true.
Our first tractor was a Samson, built about 1919 by General
Motors to compete with Fordson. We bought it used 1926, General
Motors bought out the Janesville Plow Co. and made tractors, plows,
and disc harrows there for a few years. This tractor and Janesville
Reliance Plow cost $900 new and we gave $300 for it. Fordsons were
quite common at that time. The Janesville plow was very big and
heavy. Several Fordson owners saw the outfit before we started
spring plowing, and most of them said we would have to get a
lighter plow, that the Samson never would be able to pull that.
However when we took it out in the spring it pulled those big
14′ long moldboard plows very easily. In fact the motor could
be throttled down to very low speed and still pull them, and the
furrows looked just like the pictures in the catalogs. It was a
pretty good tractor, seemed much more powerful than Fordson. The
motor ran at same speed, had good governor, pistons same size as
Fordson but stroke was .5 foot longer,
Fordson had worm gear final reduction in transmission and I think a
lot of their power was wasted there, I noted in old Fordson manual
the normal operating temperature of the transmission was said to be
190 to 250 degrees; certainly not very comfortable to ride right
next to on a hot day. The Samson used regular spur gear drive
except for the first reduction which was bevel gear. The belt speed
was rather low and we used a 9 foot pulley on the silo filler, then
it worked very well. It always started very easily in cold weather,
used a Simms magneto which had no impulse starter. The only
resistance you had to overcome when cranking it was the engine
compression, as clutch did not drag like Fordson. While it could
have been improved on I still think it was a lot better tractor
than Fordson and wished they might have continued producing them.
We ran it about six years and traded it for a McCormick-Deering
10-20, kept the plow a couple of years. We found then that the plow
really did pull hard. I started plowing one morning with the Samson
in very cool weather, 40 degrees or so and after a bit it
didn’t seem to be developing its usual power. I checked oil
level and pressure and everything seemed ok so I kept going and in
a few minutes it had barely enough power to idle; so I started
taking things apart and found the carburetor had nearly filled up
with ice. The air cleaner was of the water type and the
refrigeration from vaporizing the gas had gradually filled it up
with ice from the moist air from the air cleaner.
I wonder if any one has a Samson tractor, I don’t even have
any pictures of it now but hope to see some in this magazine some
20 hp Mogul ready to leave the “Bush” in Saskatchewan,
Canada, October, 1965. Pictured left to right, W.C. Abels, Clay
Center, Kansas; Bill Krumweidel, Voltaire, North Dakota; Harold
Ottaway, Wichita, Kansas; John Tysse, Crosby, North Dakota; “Red” Russel, Wichita, Kansas.
20-40 Case and several engines included were: 2-7 hp
Stickneys, Gould Shapley & Muir, 7 hp Eaton, 4 hp Field
& Brundage. Also 3 hp Schmidt chilled cylinder and
.75 hp Plunkett. These were bought in
Saskatchewan, Canada, October 1965. Left to right, John Tysse,
Cosby, North Dakota; W.C. Abels, Clay Center, Kansas; ‘Red’
Russel, Wichita, Kansas; Harold Ottaway, Wichita, Kansas.
A picture of Massey Harris four-wheel drive tractor. This
tractor is powered by a Waukesha motor, has standard size power
take-off, 3 speed forward and reverse. I don’t know what year
this tractor was built. It is still in running order. We use it for
odd jobs here on the farm.
Here is a picture of a model U. Allis Chalmers Tractor that was
made about 1929 with an EN6-S10A Continental Engine. Someone
converted it to rubber tires. The front wheels are U.M. wheels. It
had chains all way round this winter (all 4 wheels — a chore to
I have two sons who are members of the Association with a nine year old hoping to join too. My 12 year old at one time was the youngest
member. He looks like a 10 year old and really looks small when
driving our A. C. Tractor. My father is a Charter member of the New
York Steam Engine Association. He is Arthur Norton. The
Vice-President. Lester Norris of Marcellus has been a life long
friend of the family. So has Melvin Fellows of Syracuse. I
haven’t joined but have gone to as many of the get-togethers
with the Steam Engines that I could get to, (and I catch a ride
when ever possible).