Way back in 2006 — volume 41, number 8, August/September issue of Gas Engine Magazine –I posted an article on Flint & Walling Engines that didn’t answer a lot of questions and may have accidentally added some confusion. Fourteen years later, I hope to rectify that issue.
Flint & Walling is best known for its windmills and water pumps. They also offered steam and gas engines at a time before electricity was available in most areas. Engines started back in 1892 in catalog No. 27 when they first offered the Daisy Steam Engine. In catalog No. 42, dated 1901, they introduced the Charter gas engine of Sterling, Illinois. Flint & Walling specifically named the manufacturers of these engines. It seems that when they used the manufacturer’s name in their description they were not allowed to re-tag. I know of no Charter engines tagged Flint & Walling.
Alamo and Woodpecker engines
Moving forward to catalog No. 54 and pamphlet No. 66, dated 1908, Flint & Walling introduces the Alamo vertical engine in 2, 3 and 6hp, also the 9, 12 and 15hp horizontal. Alamo manufactured engines for many “approved agents” where we find the name “Hoosier” as an agent. Hoosier was a trade name used by Flint & Walling. Alamo allowed agents to re-tag their engines as long as it had the horsepower and serial number that matched the number on the engine. You did not need to list the Alamo name, however, some agents did. Therefore, we find these engines tagged “Hoosier/Flint & Walling.” About 1910, Alamo apparently starts to produce smaller horizontal engines in 1-½, 2 and 3hp, and Hoosier/Flint & Walling adopts these into their line.
The 1-½ hp was known as the “Hoosier Jr., Always ready, fast and steady,” and it runs counter-clockwise. These engines were listed until around the end of 1913. Catalog No. 77, dated 1912, offers the 3 and 6hp verticals and 5, 7, 9, 12 and 15hp horizontals. We do know at some point they offered a 2 and 3hp horizontal because we have a 2hp in our collection that I know was sold in 1911, serial No. 11618, and I have pictures of a 3hp tagged “Hoosier/Flint & Walling.” Also, in catalog No. 87, undated, they offer a 2-½, 4-½, and 6-½ hp horizontal.
Pamphlet No. 98, undated, and catalog No. 100, dated 1915, Flint & Walling introduces the Woodpecker style engine. Once again, Woodpecker manufactured engines for approved agents and they could re-tag them with their name. I found no requirements for the tag, but most have the serial number and the speed. I have seen early tags on the 1½hp that also had “Type KBB” on them, which is a model designation for Woodpecker. On our 3hp, it also has the horsepower stamped on the tag. These engines were offered in 1-½, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 25hp. The early engines were dark green, then they changed to a lighter hunter green. Green was the common color of Woodpecker; however, it has been noted by John “Woodpecker” Smith and Lawrence Fuller that Woodpecker would paint them to a requested color for agents.
The Brownwall line
I recently found a 1915, in-house, loose-leaf catalog, with an insert dated “5 January 1920” that listed the Brownwall line of engines. The pages in the catalog that pictured the Woodpecker line were marked “Void.” Flint & Walling offered this line as follows; gas engine, battery equipment, hit-and-miss governor, 1-½, 3, 6hp. An oscillating Webster magneto offered in 1½, 3, and 6hp. Kerosene engines offered throttle-governed, with a Webster oscillating magneto in 1-½, 3, 5, 7 and 10hp. I have found no catalog or pamphlet that describes the Brownwall like they did other engines. Catalog No. 110, dated 1920, shows pictures of these engines connected to several different models of water pumps. Near as I can tell these were used until 1929. I have not seen or heard of a Brownwall tagged Flint & Walling. I have heard of a fellow who had a Brownwall that he took off of a Hoosier water system.
Briggs & Stratton added
In 1930, Flint & Walling introduced the Briggs & Stratton engine in ½, ¾, and 1-½ hp. Flint & Walling described this engine using the Briggs & Stratton name, therefore you will not find one tagged by Flint & Walling. These were used into the early 1940s.
With the aforementioned information, I think we can safely say that Flint & Walling never manufactured any engines. Alamo and Woodpecker allowed approved agents to re-tag their engines, i.e. Alamo = Hoosier/Flint & Walling and Woodpecker = Flint & Walling. Daisy, Charter, Brownwall and Briggs & Stratton did not allow re-tagging. Also, from Woodpecker catalogs in my collection I have never seen a 1-½ hp listed, 2hp was the smallest. I have never seen a Woodpecker tag that said 1-½ hp. I think Flint &Walling said theirs was a 1-½ hp as possibly a sales gimmick where they tested these engines and they produced 2hp, so you were getting a 2hp for the price of a 1-½ hp. They touted the Alamo this way by brake-horsepower testing and found the Alamo would produce 2.2hp.
Also, concerning Middletown Machine Company, the switch by Flint & Walling in 1920 to the Brownwall line of engines coincides with what history indicates about Woodpecker’s declining sales around or shortly after World War I, and their demise around 1924. I also feel that we can dispel any thought that Flint & Walling made parts for Woodpecker. After comparing and restoring, the “K” marking on the 1-½ hp just indicates the model as in “KBB” for Woodpecker. Some of these engines will also display an “M” on the base, some do not. I think the “M” just stands for Middletown Machine. On the Flint & Walling I restored, on some parts you will find – very faintly – “MMCO” indicating Middletown Machine Co. The 3hp Flint & Walling in the collection has “R” markings and a similar pattern of casting numbers, i.e.; the 1½hp, the flywheel, “K 17,” on the 3hp it is “R 17.” The 2hp KBB Woodpecker in our collection has the same casting numbers as the 1-½ hp Flint & Walling. As with other engines, the serial number can sometimes be found on the end of the crankshaft, governor side.
Flint & Walling engine registry
I also started a registry years ago for Flint & Walling tagged engines. If you have one, include the serial number and horsepower and any other information you may have. If possible, include a photo of the engine and identification tag.
Thanks to my partner in rusty iron, Jerry Stienbarger of Kendallville, who got me started, and my friends at Flint & Walling who have allowed me access to their collection of catalogs and other material, much of which is not available to the public. As with all things dealing with rusty iron, new information may pop-up at any time. If you have anything to add to this research, feel free to contact me.
Found in vintage print
Interesting notes about the Alamo Engine Company from publications of the past.
“The Alamo Engine Company are moving their plant to Hillsdale, Mich., where they will add machinery to enable them to push their business.” Angola Indiana Herald, May 1, 1901.
“The Hillsdale Democrat, in speaking of the Alamo Gas Engine Company recently located there from Angola, says the capital stock is $25,000, and the following officers have been elected: A.D. Stock, president; W.H. Sawyer, vice-president; C.H. Rittenhouse, secretary; G.M. Beard, superintendent; and E.T. Prieaux, treasurer. They expect an output of 10 engines per week and will employ 12 to 15 hands.” Steuben Republican, May 8, 1901.
“Stephens Service Company adds to activities here, takes over finished and unfinished stock of Alamo Engine Co. – Stover officals aid project. The acquisition of the Alamo stock was made possible through the cooperation of R.H. Bennethaum and Lee Madden, officials of the Stover Mfg. & Engine Co.” Freeport Illinois Journal-Standard, July 3, 1929.
“Alamo Company Dissolved. The company made gasoline engines, the first design having been developed by Geo. M. Beard in Angola.” Angola Herald, August 19, 1932.
From this research, within a year, plus or minus:
- Daisy Steam Engine 1892 to 1907
- Sterling, Illinois, Charter Engine Co. 1901 to 1907
- Alamo Engine Co. 1908 to 1914
- Middletown Machine Co. Woodpecker 1915 to 1919
- Brownwall Engine Co. 1920 to 1929
- Briggs & Stratton 1930 to the early 1940s
Earle Franklin is a graduate of Bailey Technical Institution in St. Louis and drilled water wells before retiring from Flint & Walling in 2011. He now works as a building inspector for the City of Ligonier, Indiana. Earle can be contacted at 260-894-1525 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.