HISTORICAL NOTES ON THE DOMESTIC ENGINES OF SHIPPENSBURG

By Staff
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The Domestic Engine and Pump Company was formed in Shippensburg,
Pennsylvania in the summer of 1904,  and began producing
single-cylinder gasoline engines early in 1905. The Domestic Engine
Company of Hagerstown, Maryland, incorporated in 1903, was absorbed
by the new firm when the latter was organized. The ‘and
Pump’ originally denoted the Etter ‘Easy-Running’ hand
pump, to which the organizers of the new company had also acquired
manufacturing rights. The company’s products-pump, engine, and
jack-were often sold together to overcome the drudgery of manual
pumping and the vagaries of Pennsylvania winds. From 1905 until
1952, more than 30,000 engines were built in the Shippensburg
factory.

Production began with the Type A make and break ignition series;
about 10,000 of these were built in the company’s first fifteen
years, in sizes ranging from 1 to 12 horsepower. The Type F line of
medium weight, spark ignition engines accounted for most of the
remaining production. This series was introduced in 1913 and during
its first six years included sizes from 1? to 15 horsepower.

One of the many reasons that Domestic engines are of such great
interest to me, and I suspect to other collectors, is the wide
variety of designs and design features the company produced,
particularly in its early years. For such a comparatively small
firm, a remarkable number of designs-all of very serviceable
engines-were introduced in the period from 1905 to 1916.

The first Type A was almost certainly a 4′ bore, 6′
stroke, horizontal, sideshaft, hit and miss water cooled engine.
Whether it was tank or hopper cooled is still to be determined;
research on Domestic in this period is continuing. An educated
guess would favor tank cooling, for the predecessor company used
this approach, as did Quincy, Geiser, and Metcalfe, all nearby
contemporaries. And five years later, the Domestic catalog showed
more and larger Type A engines available in the tank or tray cooled
‘Regular’ style than in the hopper cooled
configuration.

A typical ‘Regular’ portable outfit is shown in Figure
1. A self-draining centrifugal pump circulated cooling water from a
15 gallon tank mounted between the skids. Providing adequate
cooling was a major priority with Domestic designers, so even the
early 3 horsepower and larger hopper cooled engines were offered
with this feature as an option.

The first (4×6) hopper engine differed from the corresponding
tank cooled engine only in the design of the cylinder jacket; the
engines were otherwise identical. The Smithsonian Institution has a
good, fairly early example of this hopper cooled engine, probably
dating from 1907, on display in the National Museum of American
History. The earliest Domestics bore no horsepower designation, but
by the time the Smithsonian engine was produced, a 1? horsepower
rating had been added to the nameplate.

Although water cooled engines predominated in this period, three
successive air cooled designs were also offered between 1908 and
1916; they never gained wide acceptance, but it is probable that a
few hundred were built. The first air cooled was basically
identical to the earliest water cooled engines, except for its
finned cylinder. Both later designs had more fins as well as a
shrouded cooling fan, belt-driven from one flywheel. In addition,
the third air cooled (which had .sawed fins, resembling an aircraft
engine cylinder) had an auxiliary port to release exhaust gas at
the end of the power stroke, to improve cylinder and valve cooling.
The early 4 horsepower and larger hopper cooled Type A engines also
incorporated this additional cooling feature.

The popularity of the hopper engines gained steadily and
Domestic was sensitive to the demands of the marketplace. A new 4×4
one horsepower hopper cooled was introduced in 1908, the 4×6 was
upgraded to 2 horsepower, and a new ‘three horse’ was
added, probably the following year. The Type A line ultimately
included sizes to 12 horsepower; these were first offered as
‘Regular’ tank cooled engines, but corresponding hopper
cooled versions were added in each size. Figure 2 shows a 4
horsepower Type A hopper cooled, mounted on a factory saw rig. The
practicality of these simpler engines soon became apparent both to
the manufacturer and the public, and by 1914 the ‘Regular’
engines were no longer offered.

The Domestic Jr., introduced in 1911, had several interesting
features. This comparatively low cost ($60; later $55) and
lightweight (250 pounds) 1 horsepower engine was designed for use
on portable sprayers and for light pumping and utility service.
Although its unique sheet metal hopper was its most immediately
obvious feature, this was also the first (and only) Domestic having
pushrod exhaust valve actuation. More important was the use of
‘jump spark’ ignition. This gave Domestic valuable field
experience which led to the broad scale use of high tension
ignition in the Type F series. Also important here was the first
use by Domestic of horizontal valves in the cylinder head. (The
valving arrangement of the Type A’s more closely resembled what
was then called the ‘T’ head design.)

So this first of the ‘tin hopper’ or ‘stove
pipe’ Domestics was also in several ways the father of the more
advanced Type F series. An early factory photo (Figure 3) shows
Charles B. Segner, one of Domestic’s founders, installing the
sheet metal hopper on the 1 horsepower ‘Junior.’

The new Type F line of spark ignition engines produced higher
output for a given displacement than the rather conservatively
rated Type A’s. The new 2 horsepower (4×4) ‘F’ engine
used the same block, piston, crank and flywheels as the 1?
horsepower ‘A’; however, a new water cooled head, with long
valve guides, spark plug and reduced combustion chamber volume was
provided. A new combined timer, speed control and spark advance
worked in conjunction with a redesigned exhaust cam and rocker
arm.

The new heads, valve gear and timers were similar on all the
Type F engines, and the horsepower upgrade for each displacement
was common, too, in the transition from Type A to F. The 2
horsepower ‘A’ was the basis for the 2? ‘F’; the 3
horsepower ‘A’ prefigured the 3? horsepower ‘F’,
and the 4 horsepower ‘A’ was the twin of the 5 horsepower
‘F’-and so on, up the line. The 15 horsepower ‘F’,
with 10′ bore and stroke, was the only wholly new engine in the
‘F’ family, and it still preserved all the lines of its
smaller brothers. The commonality of parts or dimensions between
pairs of ‘A’ and ‘F’ engines provided valuable
production and inventory economies during the period when both
lines were built, and later when spares for each were produced and
stocked.

The Type A igniter engines continued in production until 1919,
so the buyer had a choice between low and high tension ignition
systems over most of the horsepower range for several years. For
both igniter and spark plug engines a wide variety of magnetos was
available from the factory. And in the larger Type F engines, dual
ignition systems were offered for several years. A battery-powered
Ruhmkorff (buzz) coil was connected to one spark plug, while any
one of a variety of high-tension rotary magnetos was coupled to a
second spark plug, on the opposite side of the cylinder. Starting
ignition was provided by the battery system; when the engine got up
to speed the magneto was switched in . Although the battery
ignition remained an option Domestic later largely standarized the
Wico magneto in the early were 1920s and most of the later engines
were equipped with Wico PR, AX, EK magnetos.

 Domestic’s market gradually shifted from general
agricultural power and residential water systems in the first ten
years, to commercial and industrial uses in the period after 1915.
Large hoisting and pumping rigs were frequently built; many of
these were used by heavy construction contractors or in marine
applications. Figure 4 shows a 5 horsepower ‘F’ on a barge
in New York harbor. This factory rig included both a hoisting winch
and a pressure pump.

The sideshaft in time became almost a trademark of the
Domestic-built engines. While a number of early contemporaries of
the Domestic also used the side (or lay) shaft, virtually every
other American manufacturer of portable engines had switched to the
less-costly cam-driven push rod prior to the first World War.

In the later 1920s the line of single-cylinder engines gradually
diminished to three: 1?, 2 and 4 horsepower. Most of these engines
were intended for pumping service in construction, quarrying, or
farming, and were equipped by the factory with either direct
coupled high-pressure force pumps or diaphragm, mud or
‘trash’, pumps.

Engine manufacturing on any regular basis probably ceased before
or soon after World War II. During that period, Domestic built
centrifugal pump sets for the Marine Corps. These were powered by
purchased gasoline engines-probably manufactured by Waukesha or
LeRoi-as many pumping units from the late 20s and 1930s had
been.

As late as the 1950s, however, service and parts for these
durable engines continued to provide business for the various
successor companies. The last recorded single cylinder engine
shipped was a 1? horsepower Type F pumper, serial no. 30,420, on
October 31, 1952.

Readers familiar with the Domestic line will realize that this
brief summary has described only the most general classes of the
company’s engine output. For example, at least fourteen visibly
different hopper cooled engine designs in the 1 to 2 horsepower
range alone were produced between 1905 and 1930. Many
Domestic-built engines left the Shippensburg plant bearing the
nameplates of other sellers. Bond, Leader, Schramm, and
Rider-Ericsson were major marketing organizations for whom Domestic
Engine and Pump built and ‘branded’ significant numbers of
engines. ‘Shippensburg’ and ‘Fisherman’ were other
Domestic lines, less known than the parent name. Siamese twins,
two-cylinder vertical side shafts, and a three-cylinder ‘L’
shaped compressor are some of the other rarities which round out
the Domestic line.

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