California Rarity: 3hp Frisco Standard Stationary Engine

Uncommon even on the West Coast, a Frisco Standard makes a surprising appearance at the Old Threshers Reunion.

| February/March 2019

Earl Wacker’s circa-1901-1905 3hp Frisco Standard at the 2018 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. (Photo by Richard Backus).

Manufacturer: Standard Gas Engine Co., San Francisco, CA
Year: Circa 1901-1905
Serial No.: 452
Horsepower: 3hp @ 400rpm
Bore & stroke:
4-3/4in x 5-1/2in
Flywheel: 26in x 4-1/4in
Ignition: Igniter w/battery and buzz coil
Governing: Throttle via belt-driven horizontal flyball governor
Cooling: Tank
Weight: 900lb (approx.)

Frisco Standard stationary gas engines are a rare sight. Manufactured by the Standard Gas Engine Co., San Francisco, California, Standard engines – particularly their marine engines – were popular on the West Coast, but it seems that very few made it over the Sierra Nevada mountains to the central or eastern parts of the U.S.

A 1902 Standard Gas Engine Co. catalog illustration of a single-cylinder stationary engine.

The company was established around 1900 as the Standard Machine Works, and in 1901 built its first engine, a single-cylinder marine engine similar to the engine featured here.

Rapid growth led to reorganization and a reincorporation as Standard Gas Engine Co., in 1902. Initial offerings were single-cylinder marine engines available in 3hp to 9hp sizes. Designed by former Union Gas Engine Co. machinist Peter Morhdieck, the vertical sideshaft engines featured mechanically actuated intake and exhaust valves, and incorporated Morhdieck’s unique throttle governor design. Morhdieck’s engine and governor designs were not patented until 1906, although the applications for patent were made in 1903.


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