Good Intentions

| February/March 1994

3325 N. 65th St. Wausau, Wisconsin 54403

There seems to be some controversy or difference of opinion on quality of finish of antique gas engines. This writing is not intended to end the controversy, but to expose some fact mixed with the writer's opinion.

It is my opinion that the quality of finish varied greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and from time period to time period. For example, in the 'Teens, engines had a high quality finish, compared to the 1920s' poorer quality finish. The reason for this is the price competitiveness of the '20s and greatly increased labor costs. The manufacturer could not justify the expense of labor and material, and the consumer would not pay for it.

If one were to read some of the literature of the various manufacturers, it would show great care was put into the finish of some engines and some were just the opposite. The following are excerpts from manufacturers' sales literature.

Sandwich Excess Power Engine Catalogue, page 4: 'The finish of the Sandwich Engines is remarkable for its beauty and durability. On a smooth and well cleaned surface we place five coats of iron filler, paint and varnish.'

Witte Catalogue, 'How to Judge Engines,' dated 1917, page 24: 'Every Witte engine carries a fine finish. All parts are carefully cleaned, dressed, and smoothed down, after which the highest-grade metal filler is put on by our expert finishers. The filler is allowed to dry thoroughly, when it becomes as hard as iron, it is then smoothed and rubbed down by sandpaper and emery cloth to a glass smoothness, when the various paints, enamels and varnishes are applied, each to its own place, and for its special purpose of insuring a lasting high standard finish.'