When I saw an advertisement for a gas engine with a detachable water jacket, it really spiked my interest since I had never seen or heard of one like it. The gas engine I am talking about is the Homer gas engine, manufactured by the Homer Gas Engine Co. of Homer, MI, introduced toward the end of 1909 and produced through early 1910 when the company was sold. In the very short time this company built and sold engines it is unknown how many were built or if any managed to survive to this day.
The Homer Gas Engine Co. only built one size and style of engine in its short time of existence. It was of the vertical type and rated at 2-1/2 brake horsepower, but the manufacturers of the gas engine stated that it had an actual brake horsepower of 3-1/2 HP but was sold as 2-1/2 HP because they believed that having excess power was best for the consumer.
The detachable water jacket
This engine has many unique features including, most notably, a detachable water jacket, which was constructed from seamless brass tubing and held onto its seat by the cylinder head bolts. According to the manufacturers, with this set up the water in the jacket could freeze and there would be no damage to the rest of the engine. If the engine was left outside with water in freezing temperatures, the fix would be a cheap and easy replacement with no welding needed.
Another interesting feature of this engine is its carburetion system. The gravity-feed brass mixer is located on the base of the engine with the outlet from the gas tank (inside the base) to the mixer above the valve line in the mixer so the gasoline is unable to flow except on the intake stroke.
The cylinder head is also uniquely designed with very large water spaces; even the valves were practically surrounded by water. The valves and spark plugs are located in the head; the intake valve was 1-1/4 inches in diameter, and the exhaust valve was 1-1/2 inches. The valves were also held in alignment through “unusually long guides” and fitted with specially made springs.
The ignition system was of the “jump spark” type and used a battery and buzz coil. The timer was connected to the camshaft and was out of circuit at all times other than just prior to the explosion. To reduce wear the contact point was made from hardened steel.
More interesting features
The crankshaft was drop forged and machined and used babbitt bearings of 1-3/8-by-3 inches long. The connecting rod was also drop forged and had adjustments on both ends, using a wrist pin of 1-1/2-by-2 inches and a wrist pin bushing made of bronze to help reduce wear. The manufacturers of this engine stated that the piston was of “unusual length” with the connecting rod connected to the piston at the center. The piston was fitted with three rings, two of which were located above the wrist pin and one below. The flywheels were 20 inches in diameter and the base was cast in one piece with a portion of it just below the crankshaft, and was also equipped with an oil-collecting ring around the bottom.
The Homer engine is of the hit-and-miss type using a very interesting design for a flyweight governing system. Attached to the governor was an eccentric head pin that ran on the inside of the governor ring. The ring was severed, or split, directly over the pin so when the engine was up to speed the eccentricity of the pin would open the ring, making it larger and thus pushing on the detent catch roller allowing the engine to lock open the exhaust valve and coast. The wearing parts of this governor set up were made from cast hardened tool steel and were designed to be easily replaced by the use of only a screwdriver.
When sold new, this engine came with a sight feed drip oiler for use on the piston and cylinder, and the crankshaft bearings were equipped with automatic greasers. The muffler included on the engine was of the “cone type” and all bright parts of the engine were polished.
If anyone has more information on the Homer gas engine, or knows of a surviving example, please contact Chris Jerue.
Contact Chris Jerue at P.O. Box 307, Cheney, WA 99004 • firstname.lastname@example.org.