Gilson Manufacturing Company


| February / March 2007



Excerpted from Denis Rouleau’s web page

John E. Gilson was the third generation in his family to be involved with the Gilson Mfg. Co. of Port Washington, Wis., his father, John Gilson, being president, and his grandfather, Theodore Gilson, co-founder of the company in 1850.

Several application letters for various gasoline engine designs and improvements can be found at the U.S. Patent Office from John E., who became involved in the making of an internal combustion engine around the turn of the last century. On these applications, he identifies himself as an inventor, the assignor to the Gilson Mfg. Co., and a citizen of the U.S., residing at Port Washington.

The first Gilson engine catalog has testimony of satisfied customers dating back to July 1904, so it would be fair to assume the first Gilson engines were marketed around that time. In the initial Gilson catalog is a 4 HP vertical Style A, a vertical Style B in 2-1/2 and 4 HP sizes, a 6 and 8 HP Style C sideshaft horizontal engine and finally a small 1 HP air-cooled engine, which was the predecessor of the Style E that was to come a few years later.

The Gilson Mfg. Co. Ltd., of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, was incorporated in 1906. At first, it was under the direct control of the Gilson family who had named an American, Edw. Barelman, as president and general manager of the newly built plant. In 1907, the first “made in Canada” Gilson engines appeared, which were identical to engines built in Port Washington.

By 1907, the Gilson catalog indicates both Port Washington and Guelph locations on the front cover. The Gilson Style B was short-lived, as it is not shown in the 1907 catalog. But the Style A, then rated at 4-1/2 HP, and the Style C were still offered. A new air-cooled Gilson was introduced as a Style E in 1, 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 HP sizes. Also, built on the same general lines as the Style E air-cooled engine, a hopper-cooled Style D was introduced. The Style D was available as either a 2 or 3 HP engine. To complete the Gilson line, the much larger Style K was offered in 12 and 15 HP sizes.

The main addition to the 1908 Gilson catalog is a 2-cylinder Style E, rated at 5-1/2 HP. Also in 1908, the 3 HP Style D was re-rated to 3-1/4 HP.