Jewels of Stockton: Samson Juniors


| October/November 2002

  • Nameplate

  • Samson engine
    The busy side of the Samson, showing belt drive to the governor/mixer assembly, rocker arm for exhaust valve, and igniter and trip mechanism. These were volume-governed engines, the governor acting directly on the mixer.
  • Samson engine

  • Samson Junior engine
    Lester's 1- HP Samson Junior wears serial number N841 and likely dates from around 1904. The Samson Iron Works, Stockton, Calif., appears to have started operations around 1898. Production in Stockton continued until 1918, when General Motors bought the c
  • Two valves
    Two valves plumbed into the mixer/vaporizer allow Lester to run the Samson on propane. Check out the igniter assembly - hard to believe it's not original. A good view of the flyball governor/mixer/vaporizer assembly.
  • Flyball governor
    A good view of the flyball governor/mixer/vaporizer assembly.
  • Flyball governor
    The flyball governor viewed from behind. You can just barely see the mechanism on the igniter pushrod that advances and retards ignition timing.

  • Nameplate
  • Samson engine
  • Samson engine
  • Samson Junior engine
  • Two valves
  • Flyball governor
  • Flyball governor

Samson Junior engines were the smallest engines built by Samson Iron Works, Stockton, Calif. Rated at 1- HP, they were available in either a pump jack or a belt model. The belt model is represented here.

The Samson Junior is a first generation design and was developed by John M. Kroyer. Featuring a unique distillate vaporizer built integrally with the governing mechanism, it is a tank-cooled engine with low-tension igniter ignition.

I've admired these little Samson engines, with all their wonderful bells and whistles, for many years, and some years ago a friend of mine was very fortunate in acquiring the little Junior you see here.

This particular engine came out of a pump house in Columbia, Calif., which is in the heart of California's gold country. According to several people familiar with this particular engine, it was complete and original until someone in the area stripped the governor, igniter and pre-heater from it, leaving its 'bones' behind. From this point it went through several hands until I received it through a trade. Thank you Chris Tomasovitch, Columbia, Calif.



Chris had this little Junior for a number of years, all the while searching for its missing parts but not having much luck. It tugged at Chris' heart every time he passed the little Junior, stripped and naked as it was, so he went to work and manufactured the necessary fittings and adapters to fit an old Ford Model T carburetor to the Junior. He also fabricated an adapter plate for a spark plug and a set of wipe contacts to provide ignition. Chris was finally able to run the Samson, but found it would load up on oil having quite a bit of blow by, but would run slowly just idling along. He had made a runner out of it.

Chris knew I really wanted that little engine, and I finally came up with something he wanted more than the Junior - it was finally mine.



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