1448 Franklin St., Columbus, Indiana 47201
In 1888 Marshall T. Reeves, Girnie L. Reeves and Milton O.
Reeves incorporated the ‘Reeves Pulley Company’, beginning
the manufacture of wood split pulleys. Later they earned a world
wide reputation for the manufacture of variable speed
transmissions, machinery and appliances. As early as 1903 they
began the manufacture of automobile engines. Later appreciating the
broader and more promising field for stationary engines they
diverted this development into farm engines, which the refinement
and accuracy of manufacture is not found in the ordinary gasoline
With the Reeves speed changing device the speed of the engine
may be reduced when only little power is required and high speed is
unnecessary, and the speed can be changed while the engine is
The Reeves gasoline engine was built in several sizes 1, 2, 3,
4, 6, 8, and 12 HP (at first they built an experimental 1? HP and
then at a later date they built a 16HP).
The Reeves 1 and 2 HP size is the same in general design and
construction as all other sizes differing in only four respects as
Cylinder and water hopper are cast with base. Cylinder head is
removable, but is not water jacketed, the air cooled fins keep it
cool. Connecting rod bushing at wrist pin are poured instead of die
cast babbitt. Flywheel hubs are cast solid and keyed to shaft.
Another important fact is about the flywheels. The flywheels on
the larger engines were sufficiently heavy to give the engine
momentum and make it run perfectly at all times.
The hubs are split and the wheels fastened to the shaft by means
of keys and compression bolts, this enabled them to bore the hole
the same size of the shaft then spring the hub open and put the
wheel in place.
The governor is of a hit and miss type gear driven from the
crankshaft with a third gear driving a set of ball governors so
when they open the pin is pushed outward against the detent arm
causing the cam push rod to lock and hold the exhaust valve
This causes the intake valve to remain open so no gas can enter
the cylinder. Until the engine slows down, the governor ball closes
down and relieves the pressure of the governor pin against the
detent, which releases the catch and allows the exhaust valve to
close and the intake valve to open by suction admiting a charge of
gas to enter the cylinder.
The governor also controls the operation of the igniter allowing
it to stand idle except when a charge of gas is drawn into the
cylinder to be ignited. This saves the batteries and is one of the
important economical features of the Reeves. The igniter is make
and break type used in connection with dry cells or magnetos.
All engines were equipped with a set of dry cells, switch, wire
and spark coil and a neat strong box for same. When it was desired
they furnished the magneto at extra cost
They used the famous Lukenheimer Mixer. All fuel enters the
cylinder through the mixer and is thoroughly atomized and mixed
with the exact amount of air to utilize every atom of gas and thus
produce the greatest power.
The Reeves gasoline engine was finished in a rich brilliant red,
nicely striped in gold with neat scolls at the corners and the name
of ‘The Reeves’ across the water hopper in gold. The side
and face of the flywheel are royal blue. There was also scroll work
on the oil shield. Notice the natural colors on enclosed picture,
also notice the centerfold picture with the Reeves features in
There were many other stories and features mentioned in the
booklet, such as ‘The American Farmer is the King Bee’,
‘The Farm Bay’-‘Give him a chance, the farm boy is
really the fellow who is doing about 95% of the big jobs in the
worlds work’. There is a chapter on how ‘The Farmers Wife
and Daughter’s Day is never done’. In short, just track the
little bunch of gristle you call your wife through her daily pace
of forty eight hours and see how she really spends her time. With
the Reeves conveniently placed, she pours the cream into a modern
churn, turns on the power, settles herself into a rocker and lets
the Reeves do the rest. When she is through with this she tumbles
the clothes into a revolving washer and again calls the Reeves to
her rescue. If she wants a good cold drink of water, Reeves hands
it out. Best of all, Reeves never gets tired!’
The most popular one and two HP seem to have been the most
unprofitable. At the end of 1914 the directors recommended that
this branch of the business be closed out ‘as rapidly as
possible’. In 1918 the gasoline business was offered for sale
to Cumming Machine Company of Munster, Ohio.
I own a 2HP Reeves engine that was used in the water system many
years in a greenhouse, here in Columbus, Indiana. I am presently
making a 1/3 scale model.
Reeves, now ‘Reliance Electric’ is holding a 100th
Anniversary celebration on June 12, at the Reeves plant.