Gas Engine Memories

Reminiscing on a lifetime of gas engines.

| May/June 1966

I am 77 years old and I bought my first gasoline engine in 1906. It was an air-cooled engine, 11/2 hp. and was called the 'never freeze'. I don't recall what the name of the company was and I don't think anybody knows how many different makes were built, but there were hundreds of them and I think more than 75% were of the slow speed, heavy duty, hopper-cooled, make and break ignition type. They were built to last for farm use and were from 1 hp. to 3 hp., mostly on skids for pumping, churning and running the grindstone and other light work.

Portables for heavy work as sawing, shredding, grinding and other uses.

They were built from 5 hp. to 15 hp. mostly, but for industrial use, up to several hundred hp. From about 1895 to 1910 we lived right in the midst of a big oil boom and on a quiet morning you could hear them in all directions. One would go Boom, then another and another one until there was just one Bang-Boom after another - and I enjoyed it - just to stand still and count the explosions.

In 1910, I bought a 12 Hp. United Engine on skids made in Lansing, Michigan, for which I paid $125.00. I mounted it on a farm wagon and it did alot of hard work for me pulling a 6 roll U.S. corn shredder and buzzing wood galore as ours was a timbered country and everybody burned wood. When tractors became more popular, I traded it and I don't know if it is still in existence. If it was and would still be running, I would give more for it now than when I bought it 55 years ago.

I still have a 6 Hp. U N engine which runs just as pretty as it did the first day 55 years ago. This is the fourth time that I own this engine and love and money won't buy it now. Somewhere around the 1930's when electric was going out in the rural areas, I was doing some junking. Most every farmer had one or two gasoline engines and I gathered them up all around. All I would save were the glass oil cups. One time I had way over a hundred engines. Most of these would run almost as good as new. I would start them up just to see how they would run, then hit them with a sledge and break them up. O, how I wish I had some of them now, for all the different companies that made these engines - almost all are out of existence or make some other machinery now. I know of only one old engine company that still makes the good old type of heavy duty hopper cooled make and break ignition and have been building them since 1908. They build a beautiful engine. It's the Acadia Gas Engine of Ltd. Nova Scotia, Canada.