Hail! Minnesota

Built or badged, they still call The Land of 10,000 Lakes home

| February 2006

A lmost all Minnesota gas engines are rare, says Robert Geiken, longtime collector and aficionado of Minnesota engines from Hastings, Minn., who owns eight of them. "They're not well-known like your John Deere or McCormick-Deerings. Most Minnesota gas engines were manufactured by small builders." Minnesota engines in general can be divided into two groups: those badged in Minnesota but manufactured elsewhere and the rare, Minnesota-built engines.

Minnesota-Badged Engines

Crane-Ordway: Built in Waterloo, Iowa, by the Waterloo Gas Engine Co., the Crane-Ordway engine was rebadged for the Crane-Ordway Plumbing Co. of Minneapolis. Robert has a 3 HP version of it, which contains some original paint and part of the decal on the water hopper.

Hudson & Thurber: A Minneapolis hardware store of the same name sold its own line of Hudson & Thurber engines, which were actually rebadged Acme engines manufactured by Acme Engine Co. of Lansing, Mich. H&T sold agricultural supplies and in 1906 bought a Chicago City Brand sprayer plant. Little else is known about Hudson & Thurber and its engines.

Peerless: Sold in Winona, Minn., the unique Peerless engine was built by LaCrosse Tractor Co. of LaCrosse, Wis., and sold by Peerless Co. of Winona. What made this 3 HP vertical engine unique was not only its double pistons, but how they were used. The top, or power piston, sits atop the second guide piston that brings up oil through a poppet valve and mixes it with gas to lubricate the upper cylinder. "Though the carburetor is throttle-governed," Robert says, "it has to suck oil into the intake manifold and mix with the fuel to lubricate it." This Peerless engine contains the name of engine designer William A. Sorg on the nametag.

Raymer Equipment Co.: Northwestern Steel & Iron Works of Eau Claire, Wis., made Raymer engines for this St. Paul, Minn., company. Though it's unclear what size Raymers were badged, Northwestern made engines from circa 1905-1913 in 1-3/4 to 12 HP. Robert has a 4-1/2 HP Raymer, which was originally used on the banks of the Mississippi River in south St. Paul to winch logs out of the river.

Minnesota-Made Engines

Diamond Iron Works: This Minneapolis company manufactured at least two different gas engines: the American, starting in 1912, and the Sorg oil-gas engine in 1913, designed by the same William A. Sorg involved with the Minnesota Peerless engine. After its 1885 organization, DIW was heavily involved in tractor development by 1900, and manufactured the American engine originally for their Diamond Jr. tractor. They turned their attention to the stationary engine market devoted to electric plants, pumping stations, dredges and hoists. The 4-cylinder American had a 5-bearing crankshaft.