The Story of an Elusive Palm Engine

A small Palm engine finds its way to Paul Harvey, but it's a mystery as to who made it and why.

October/November 2018
By Paul Harvey

Victor Hugo Palm was born in Karns City, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 25, 1879. His father was George Palm, who would soon be known for his work with convertible gas and/or steam engines. George’s invention was patented in 1900, and he formed the Palm Gas Engine Co. to build his machines. One surviving example is displayed at the Coolspring Power Museum and is shown in Photo 1. Although no other Palm engines are known, to my knowledge, it appears to have been a successful design.


Photo 1: The Coolspring Power Museum's 1898 15 hp Palm, the only known example of a Palm convertible gas engine. (Photo courtesy of Paul Harvey).

Victor is noted to have worked for his father as a machinist in 1903. On Dec. 5, 1906, George Palm suddenly passed away. There were two other partners in the Palm firm and they kept the company active. Victor is last mentioned as foreman at Palm in 1910. During this time he gained knowledge of the operation of a convertible gas and/or steam engine.

For the rest of his life, Victor seemed to skip from one job to another. Records found on reveal that he was a foreman for the T.W. Phillips Mfg. Co., Butler, Pennsylvania, in 1912. In 1915, Victor is listed as a machinist for Spang & Co., also of Butler. He is then noted to be foreman of machinery at Butler Engine and Foundry in 1917. He continued with that job until his death on Oct. 11, 1932. Tragically, he fell dead running his lathe at work that morning. He was 53 years old. He is buried at North Side Cemetery, in Butler.


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