Coolspring Spotlight

The rare and the beautiful from the Coolspring Power Museum

| October 2008

The Otto Diesel

This engine was built in Philadelphia, during the last days of the early and famous Otto Gas Engine Works. The nameplate already notes the merger with Superior Engines of Springfield, Ohio.

The engine closely follows the German design, and employs the complete Diesel principle, having no additional heat except compression to start ignition. It injects only enough fuel to keep its speed constant as controlled by the governor. For starting, it is rolled by compressed air.

Installed in The Ice House of Lewisburg, in Lewisburg, Pa., the engine spent its time driving an ammonia compressor for refrigeration and an alternator for electricity, through belts as seen here. It provided freezing for a brine tank that made block ice. The local Amish demand kept it in service until the late 1950s, when it was placed in standby.

The Otto was donated to Coolspring Power Museum by Ice House owner Fred Coburn. Museum engineers ran it for him on site in Lewisburg and he was delighted. It now appears much as it did at its original installation.

Contact the Coolspring Power Museum at P.O. Box 19, Coolspring, PA 15730 • (814) 849-6883 • •