My Research

| July/August 1973

1211 N. Jefferson, Indianola, Iowa 50125

I would like to add my two cents worth to the gasoline engine controversy started in the November-December 1972 GEM. I read with great interest about the Antique Mechanics Club of University of California, Davis and their Regan Gas Vapor Engine and their Standish Gasoline Engine, both dated from around 1884 to 1889. In my interest of who built the first gasoline engine in the United States, I began my research.

My investigation led me to find much the same information that I found Charles Wendel told about in the Jan.-Feb. GEM. My major reference, 'The American Car Since 1775', by the editors of Automobile Quarterly established that George B. Brayton built his first internal combustion engine in 1864, improving it until he patented it in 1872. By the way, this was the engine that George B. Selden based his patents on for his 1879 horseless carriage that was to cause such a commotion in the early 1900s. Many other patents were granted for internal combustion engines during the 1850s including Dr. Alfred Drake's patent No. 12,715 for his explosive gas engine dated April 17, 1855. How many of these engines were built full size, or are still around may never be known.

At the same time that Dr. Drake was developing his engine, a New Yorker by the name of Stuart Perry built and patented a turpentine fueled internal combustion engine in 1844 and 1846. This was a two cycle vertical engine resembling a steam engine using a pump to force the air vapor mixture into the cylinder. He patented both air and water-cooled engines. The water-cooled engine also lubricated the piston and cylinder.

I recently became interested in gas engines. I found one near my home and bought it. This engine sat outside for 25 years and everything was completely stuck, but now I have all parts movable again.

The guy I purchased it from thought it was a 7-1/2 HP Bullseye Engine made by Montgomery Ward. His dad bought it around 1915. It has a 6' bore, and 32' flywheels with a 2-1/2' rim and an 8' stroke. There is one tag missing. The tag that is remaining says 'Portable Gasoline Engine, 5-15 HP, No. 2752, install and maintain this engine in accordance with underwriters rules. Do not test for leaks with match. Keep engine clean.'