Kewanee Engines

An excerpt from Glenn Karch’s new book: The Kewanee Engine Story

| August / September 2007

  • Catalog
    Front and back cover of a Kewanee catalog.
  • Map
    A map from a Kewanee catalog showing the company's location in Illinois.
  • Pumping Unit
    The no. 64 Kewanee pumping unit consists of a no. 54 deep well pump and a working head driven by a gas engine mounted on a subbase. The size of the engine varies according to tank pressure and the depth of the well.
  • A Kewanee logo
    A Kewanee logo.
  • Water Works
    An example of Kewanee's completeness and compactness: A water works system, including a 500-gallon tank, a 1-1/2 HP engine, a 300-gallon deep well pump, an air charging device and a clutch to disconnect the engine from the pump.
  • Catelog Images
    Top: Kewanee System no. 31 from a 1907 catalog. It had an Automatic Tank and a 2 HP gas engine belted to a deep well working head, which delivered 500 gallons per hour. Bottom: Kewanee System no. 57 included an Automatic Tank 2 HP combined gasoline engine and a pumping jack designed to connect to a regular deep well pump, which was standard so that the pump could be operated by hand, by gasoline or by windmill.
  • catalog no 7
    Top and side views of a Kewanee engine from catalog no. 7
  • 64 Pumping Unit
    Another no. 64 pumping unit with 16-inch stroke. An additional version of this unit used an Ohio gas engine and had a 24-inch stroke.
  • Kewanee System no 40
    Kewanee System no. 40 from a 1907 catalog consisted of a Kewanee Automatic Tank and a gasoline engine belted to a triplex power pump. This system could be furnished in any size from 2 to 50 HP.
  • 1907 catalog
    An image from a 1907 catalog for the Kewanee System of Water Supply for City and Country.
  • Kewanee System of Water Supply
    An image from a 1907 catalog for the Kewanee System of Water Supply for City and Country.
  • 1907 catalog cover
    The cover for the 1907 catalog.
  • Handbook Cover
    The cover of Kewanee handbook and catalog no. 7

  • Catalog
  • Map
  • Pumping Unit
  • A Kewanee logo
  • Water Works
  • Catelog Images
  • catalog no 7
  • 64 Pumping Unit
  • Kewanee System no 40
  • 1907 catalog
  • Kewanee System of Water Supply
  • 1907 catalog cover
  • Handbook Cover

Kewanee, Ill., was settled in 1854 according to a painted wall located in the center of town. The city is situated in the southeast corner of agricultural Henry County. The city’s population is now around 13,000, down from around 20,000 during the city’s industrial heyday. During that time, Kewanee Boiler Co. was toward the west side of town and once employed hundreds of workers making various kinds of boilers and tanks.

The company eventually known as Kewanee Water Supply Co. (later Kewanee Private Utilities Co.) began in 1897. A man by the name of Xenophon Caverno started a pump and water supply business selling and installing various units and equipment he obtained from other suppliers. He promoted water supply systems for farms and homes beyond the reach of city utilities.

The 1900 Kewanee City Directory lists a Kewanee Pneumatic Water Supply Co. located in downtown Kewanee at 118 N. Tremont St., with Caverno listed as president. Kewanee Light & Power Co. is also listed at the same address and, again, Caverno is president. He was also an inventor and was awarded several patents, mostly pertaining to pumps or water system regulators. He was awarded a design patent for the stand Kewanee Type 24 and 25 units rest on.

The 1905 directory lists the Pneumatic Water Supply Co. as manufacturers of pneumatic tanks, automatic regulators, pumps, engines and water works supplies. The business had a new location at the west edge of town facing Franklin Street just south of the CB&Q Railroad. Around 1900, a new two-story brick building about 30-by-70 feet had been erected to house a machine shop and testing room. A large line shaft about 50 feet long with a multitude of pulleys still hangs from the second floor ceiling. On one end of the shaft is a large pulley with a long clutch operating lever, but there is no evidence as to what powered the shaft. Interestingly, this building is just south and across the railroad tracks from Kewanee Boiler Co.



The company’s 1907 catalog used the name Kewanee Water Supply. The catalog has many photos of places using the Kewanee water systems and has mnumerous testimonials from satisfied users. It also shows various pumps, engines and pneumatic tank combinations. All engines and pumps shown are from other manufacturers. The various engines used include Rider-Ericsson, Monitor, National Pump, Cleveland Standard, Olds, Temple and two from an unidentified supplier.

The head of a Kewanee Indian warrior appears frequently in company literature as its trademark. In this catalog there are photos showing water tanks of all sizes scattered around in two large lots. There is no space in the Kewanee buildings where such equipment necessary to cut, roll, stamp or rivet the steel sheet to make these large tanks could have been located. There was also no apparent location suitable for a foundry within the buildings.



SUBSCRIBE TO GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE TODAY!

Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.




Facebook YouTube

Classifieds