Design Evolution Of The FRIEND Engine


| November/December 1994



Air-cooled Friend engine

6190 Keller Ave., Newfane, New York 14108-9508

Head and crank views of the early air-cooled Friend engine. Note that the 1908 line drawing at left shows a pump base separate from but bolted to the engine base. The circa 1910 photograph at right gives a view of the head, carb, and new pump brackets cast as part of the engine base. Note the belt coming off the flywheel to the cooling fan.

Friend Manufacturing Company of Gasport, New York, will celebrate its one hundredth anniversary in 1995. Maker of the Friend gas engine, this company continues to design and produce advanced spray systems for agricultural pesticides application. The engines and sprayers today are a far cry from the early models that began to appear around the turn of the twentieth century. Claiming to be the first commercial venture in the application of gasoline powered engines to high pressure spray pumps, Friend designed and successfully marketed some interesting machinery.

Friend's first commercial engine for power spraying is a bit of a mystery. The air-cooled engine, according to the preface of a company sales catalog of 1910, was first developed in 1900 and put into production in 1901 with the making of one engine powered spray rig. Two units were made in 1902, six in 1903, and 14 in 1904. The 1910 Friend sales catalog carries photographs of the air cooled engine but the photos are not sufficiently detailed to give an understanding of the complete design, especially with regard to the ignition system. The piston travel was horizontal. The gas tank was mounted directly over the cylinder. A flat belt driven by the single flywheel powered a fan mounted on the side of the cylinder head, roughly similar to Ideal or New Way cooling fan mounts. A piece of Friend stationery dating to 1908 carries a print showing the rear of the air cooled engine and companion pump. The engine base is similar to later water-cooled engine bases, but without the cast-in pump brackets. The pump is clearly seen as a distinct and separate unit with its own base bolted down to the same floor as the engine base. The general design of the pump is the basic design that will continue to serve Friend for over thirty years.

By 1910, the separate independent pump base had been eliminated with special brackets cast into the engine base to support the complete weight of the pump. Friend catalogs rated the air-cooled engine at 2.5 horsepower. The era of the Friend air-cooled engine lasted from 1901 to sometime prior to 1915. Despite its longevity and apparent success, I think that demands for increased pump pressure left the 2.5 horsepower engine under strength. Cooling problems may have exacerbated the utility of Friend's first commercial sprayer engine. Also, by as early as 1907, it may have faced stiff competition from its younger sister. By 1907 and probably before, Friend was making a water cooled, open crank engine with a very tall, slab-sided water hopper. Younger, stronger, more powerful than the 2.5 horsepower rating modestly assigned to them, the Friend water cooled had arrived to dominate the next thirty years of Friend engine technology.

Friend open hopper water cooled engines showed three major periods of design transition, although the design changes were not radical. The modifications can be summed up by this word formula: open crankcase; hinged crank cover; closed crankcase. The first 'auto marine' water cooled Friend engines had a fully exposed crank and connecting rod.