Through a chance encounter at a show in nearby Richton, Miss., the Pine Belt Antique Engine and Tractor Club of Hattiesburg, Miss., recently acquired a 1911 Chicago Pneumatic built by the Chicago Pneumatic Company of Chicago, Ill. A single-cylinder, two-cycle horizontal oil engine, it has a bore and stroke of 15- x 18 inches and is rated at 70 HP at 150 rpm.
We found out about the old Chicago Pneumatic when a former employee of International Paper visited with one of our members, David Lyon, at the Richton Pican Festival last September. In 1911 this engine was purchased by the International Paper Company and installed on a site on a freshwater creek approximately six miles northeast of Moss Point, Miss., on the Gulf of Mexico. It was belted to a pair of three-cylinder Worthington pumps to supply fresh water to the International Paper Company mill located in Moss Point. The engine worked continuously in this capacity until some point during the 1940s, when electric motors were installed and the engine was retired.
The mill, it turned out, had been closed and was being torn down. The following week, David visited with the plant manager, Jay Schmidt, telling him how our club members restore old engines and run them at shows to educate the public about engines of the past. He also told him how we hate hearing about engines being taken to the scrap yard. Inevitably the question arose, 'Can we acquire the engine?' 'You have made my day,' Schmidt replied, 'we do not want to see the engine go to the scrap yard. We will donate it to your club with one request: put a plaque on it saying, 'Donated by International Paper Co., Moss Point, Mississippi.'' We gladly agreed to this, of course.
As the building was scheduled to be torn down the engine needed to be moved quickly, and club members made two trips to get the engine. The first visit involved freeing it from an 18-inch tall pedestal, in the process removing the intake and exhaust equipment, and placing timber skids under each side. Club members David Lyon, Warren Croft, Jim Parker, Jim Callender, Homer Ferrill, John Edwards, Hayward Anderson and Joe Spell were part of this phase of the project. A week later we made our second trip, bringing along chains saws, hammers and other equipment so we could remove enough of a wall in the building to pass the 10-foot-wide engine through. Harold Clark, an International Paper Co. employee, assured us it would be all right to tear out the wall, as the entire building would soon be demolished.
The next few days were filled with some serious thinking: How do we get the engine, located five feet inside the building, out through a hole in the wall and over a foot-high concrete footing supporting the wall? We had already estimated (guessed) that the engine weighed five or six tons, but we didn't have a hoist with that kind of capacity. However, Lovitt Equipment Co., our local John Deere dealer, has a big GMC tilt-bed truck with a large hydraulic winch, so we discussed the problem with owner Phil Lovitt. Phil went back and visited with his shop foreman, and in short order he was back, saying, 'We want to help you. Be here at 7:30 in the morning and ride with our driver, Arnold Walters, and if it can be done, Arnold will do it.'
We arrived at the engine site at 10 a.m. By 2 p.m. the engine was loaded and the job site cleaned up. Arriving back at Hattiesburg, the loaded truck was weighed before unloading the engine in David Lyon's shop on his farm near town, a thankfully uneventful event. Once unloaded, we weighed the truck again. Total weight: 18,120 pounds, or just over nine tons.
David spent a couple of nights cleaning mud dauber nests out of the old engine before disassembling the brass injector pump so he could free it up. He also removed the force-feed oiler and all the oil lines, blowing them out with compressed air before hooking them back up. Once hooked up he hand pumped the oiler until he was sure oil was getting to the cylinder. After going through everything on the engine it was finally started. That was on Dec. 1, 2001, almost 60 years after it had last been run and, amazingly, its 90th birthday. Its date of manufacture was Dec. 1, 1911.
The Chicago Pneumatic sees the light of day for the first time in 60 years.
We are going to mount the engine on a heavy duty trailer, and we are looking forward to getting the engine running, sporting a new brass plaque stating, 'Donated by International Paper Co., Moss Point, Mississippi.'
Special thanks to Jay Schmidt and Harold Clark with International Paper Co. and to Phil Lovitt and Arnold Walters with Lovitt Equipment Co.
Chicago Pneumatic Specifications
Date of Manufacture
Dec. 1, 1911
Bore and Stroke
15-1/2 x 18-inch
64-inch, 5-inch face
Fuel and Ignition
Two-cycle oil, direct injection hotbulb ignition
70 HP @ 150 rpm
Force feed, three feed lines
Open sump, crankshaft acting as splash oiler
Contact engine enthusiast Joe Spell at: 1905 Ridgeway Lane, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, (601) 582-5664.