First Things

By Staff
1 / 2
Bill Santos of 261 Buckboard Road, Newcastle, CA 95658 owns this rare Regan engine. See his story on page 31.
2 / 2

261 Buckboard Rd, Newcastle, California 95658

While I was participating at the Pugest Sound show in Lynden, WA
in 1987, a man stopped by and said he had a California engine up in
Canada and wondered if someone would be interested in it. I said I
would come take a look at it after the show as I collect California
engines. When looking at it I found that it had no main bearings,
rod bearings, gas valve body, carburetor, rocker arm or original
electrical parts, and someone had converted it to a hit & miss
linkage. I knew that wasn’t right either but made him an offer
which he accepted.

I brought it home to Newcastle, and after a week called Larry
Snow of Branch 13 as he has information on California engines. He
already knew that I had found a Regan engine! Word does get

I asked him to send me information on the engine, and he said he
would be by in a couple of weeks with it. When he came he brought a
4 HP Regan with a missing flywheel, which he had just acquired. He
and three other club members had spent two days with on site-built
raft getting it two miles up the river in the gold country.

Seeing his engine-and parts- gave me the opportunity to make
patterns for my missing parts so 1 could cast them later.

I spent most of the spring getting it ready for the 1988
National EDGE&TA show at Merced, California. Then off to
Lynden, Washington for their 1988 show. While showing it at Lynden
three people had long faces as they had turned down the opportunity
to buy it because it was ‘too far gone’ for them! It drew a
lot of attention at the show.


About the Regan: D. S. Regan patented the first electrical
internal ignition (make and break) in the U.S. in 1889, being a
bolt on the top of the piston that touched a flat insulated spring
in the cylinder head at top dead center building up a charge in a
coil that sparked on the way down creating ignition. (See patent

Regan also invented a type of carburetor for vaporizing
gasoline. He sold out to the Union Iron Works and they discontinued
the engine in 1896. My engine is 6′ bore and 8′ stroke. It
weighs 1000 lbs. and develops 3 HP at 150 rpm.

The University of California at Davis has one vertical and one
horizontal Regan. Dick Hamp and Larry Snow each have a horizontal,
as is mine, and Bill Prine has a vertical with marine gear. These
are all of different configuration and are the only six that we
know of.

But you never can tell when someone will find one under a lone
pine tree or in an old gold mine.

Igniters, Sparkers, Make and Break, Piston Operated 408,356.

San Francisco, California Gas-Engine. Filed April 5, 1888.
Patented Aug. 6, 1889. Serial No. 269,756. (No model.) Patented in
England Oct. 27, 1888, No. 15,448.

My invention relates to improvements in gas-engines; and it
consists in making the piston a part of the electric circuit and
fixing one of the electrodes to it, while the other electrode,
properly insulated, is so arranged within the cylinder as to be
touched by the piston-electrode at each stroke, so that the circuit
is closed and broken at each stroke of the piston.

The object of my invention is to provide an explosive gas-engine
with an ignitor the operation of which shall be dependent upon the
movements of the engine-piston, and to close and open the
electrical circuit by the stroke of the piston.

1.  In a gas-engine, an electrical circuit including the
engine-piston, an electrode fixed to the piston and reciprocating
with it, and a second electrode fixed within the explosive chamber
of the engine and insulated therefrom, whereby the electrical
circuit is closed and broken at each stroke of the piston, as

2.  In a gas-engine, an electrical circuit including the
engine-piston and electrode fixed to and reciprocating with the
piston, in combination with a second insulated flexible electrode
fixed within the engine-cylinder, so that contact is made and
broken between the two electrodes at each stroke of the piston, as
herein described.

3. In a gas-engine, the spring D, the insulated
spring-holder E, having the clamp-block F and the set-nut H,
connected with one pole of an electric battery, in combination with
a connecting-finger C, attached to the piston B, and the cylinder
A, connected with the battery by means of the electric wire J, for
the purpose of making the circuit by direct connection with the
piston at each stroke of the same, constructed and operated
substantially as and for the purposes set forth.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines