HISTORICAL NOTES ON THE DOMESTIC ENGINES OF SHIPPENSBURG


| March/April 1982



Regular Engines

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 (4x6) 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.