In the early days of gas engine manufacturing, legions of
fledgling engineers got their start toiling away at drawing boards
tucked away in the poorly lit drawing rooms of established
companies like Fairbanks-Morse, IHC and Stover.
Albert Y. Edwards was one of those junior engineers, and he
spent at least a few of his early working years crafting engine
designs for Foos Engine Co., Springfield, Ohio.
The patent illustrated here, no. 1,257,469, shows Edwards’ 1917
design for a horizontal engine. Mechanically, there’s nothing
particularly novel about Edwards’ engine: It’s just a simple,
horizontal, single-cylinder unit.
What makes Edwards’ design interesting is the approach he took
for the water hopper and engine castings, as a close inspection
shows that Edwards’ engine is made from only two main castings; a
support base that doubles as a fuel tank and the main
In Edwards’ design, the crankcase and the water hopper are a
single casting, with cooling water surrounding not only the
cylinder (as on a standard hopper-cooled engine), but the
crankshaft area, as well. Edwards’ patent claimed that extending
the cooling reservoir rearward to at least partially encompass the
crankshaft would result in not only a cooler-running engine, but a
stronger and better balanced engine.
In his patent, Edwards claimed his design focused the engine’s
center of gravity closer to the engine’s physical center,
concentrating the engine’s weight on the engine base, thereby
allowing greater engine speeds with less vibration. Evidently not
immune to engine aesthetics, he also claimed the design would give
“more symmetrical lines” to the engine.
Edwards’ patent was awarded on Feb. 26, 1918, to Foos Engine
Co., and the design found its way into production in the form of
the Foos Type K, which was evidently produced in very small numbers
around this time. It’s likely it was a manufacturing nightmare, as
a casting flaw in, say, a crankshaft bearing saddle would require
pitching the entire casting – cylinder, water hopper and all – onto
the scrap metal pile. No examples are known to have survived.
Two years after he penned this unique design, Edwards launched
the Edwards Motor Co., first in Springfield and later Sandusky,
Ohio. Engines produced there featured a centrally located water
hopper and a unique, two-piston design yielding a dual rating of
1-1/2 HP and 6 HP, depending on whether it was run on one cylinder
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