Hettinger Engine Company of Bridget on, New Jersey


| December/January 1991



Original 1898 Hettinger engine.

7964 Oakwood Park Court, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663.

On the north (New Jersey) shore of Delaware Bay is the Cohansey River, and about ten miles up the river is the town of Bridgeton. Old timers remember the Hettinger Engine Company in Bridgeton, with schooners tied to the dock for work on their Hettinger marine engines.

Henry Hettinger, the founder of the company, was a remarkable man. Henry's father, John H. Hettinger, was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1840. John moved to Germany, where he met his future wife, Babetta Campf, while both were working at the Krupp Works. The couple immigrated to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania where Henry, the second of four sons, was born in 1875. When Henry was a year old, they moved to Bridgeton, New Jersey, and John went to work for a cigar factory. As a boy, Henry showed mechanical talent and took a great interest in the machine shops in Bridgeton. In 1891, at age 16, while he was employed by the Getsinger Glass Works, he built a model steam engine which still is in the possession of his descendants. Next, he became an apprentice at the machine shop operated by Charles Crickler, making molds for glass bottles. Later employers were Cox Brothers and Company and the Ferracute Machine Company. He must have recognized the future of the gasoline engine and decided to go into that business for himself, for in 1898 he opened the Hettinger Engine Company and built his first engine. That first engine still exists, and is a hopper-cooled horizontal stationary engine; see Figure 1. 1898 was a most important year for another reason-he married Mary El-well of nearby Haddonfield, N.J.

Hettinger's business prospered, and by 1910 he employed 70 to 100 workers. Figure 2 shows the factory building in 1910, and Figure 3 shows the interior. Figure 4 is the cover of his 1911 catalog. The catalog lists these models:

HP

CYL

BORE

STROKE

6

1

5?

6

9

2

4?

6

12

2

5?

6

18

2

6?

8

24

4

5?

6

30

2

8?

10

36

4

6?

8

60

4

8?

10

Lines were drawn through the specifications of the 30 and 36 HP models. Hettinger must have dropped them after the catalog was printed. Figure 5 shows the 6 HP model. All the engines had enclosed crankcases. All had cam-operated intake valves except the 9 and 18 HP models. The buyer had a choice of either make-and-break or jump-start ignition. There is a statement that they also built gasoline hoisting engines, dredge winding engines, and stationary engines. One of the hoisting engines is in the collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum; it is a horizontal hopper-cooled engine with 5? x 8 bore and stroke.

Henry Hettinger had another enthusiasm-flying. The Aero Club of Pennsylvania was formed in October 1909, as a result of a flight of a Curtis plane at Point Breeze in South Philadelphia. Hettinger was one of the club members. The objective of the members was to build their own planes, and he did just that. The 40 HP six cylinder engine was built by the Hettinger Engine Company. Mary sewed the fabric wing covering; she is with the plane in Figure 6. The details of the airplane and its flights are in the Spring 1989 issue of South Jersey Magazine, in an article by Bill Chestnut. Hettinger made many short flights, the later ones after he had converted his plane to a seaplane. A crash in 1911 ended Hettinger's interest in flying. For years, parts of the plane were suspended high in the factory.