This month we continue reprinting a series that first appeared
in GEM in the March-April 1969 issue. We are now at installment
number 6 (of 7), which appeared in the January /February 1970 GEM,
and was written by Carleton M. Mull.
During the last ten years before the turn of the century, the
excitement over the demand for the new type of engine came into
practical utilization. The applications for power in 1900 were many
time the uses found back at the event of the steam era around
As we contemplate this event of the coming of gasoline engine
power from our present vantage point, the initiation of this new
source of power can be compared to the diesel engine and atomic
power era of our present times. It was a major turning point in the
history of all nations. Its perfection led to an entirely new
concept in the mode of transportation the manufacture of the
automobile. It also gave great impetus to all types of mobile
machinery in agriculture, construction and marine markets.
This new source of power encouraged small manufacturers of every
kind of merchandise. It meant that in many fields of manufacturing
a business could be started with a reasonable investment for the
power required. As the business grew and it was necessary to expand
to supply the demand of the product, all that was necessary to
increase the power capacity, was to buy a second engine, or a
larger one, to furnish power for a plant of twice the original
output. All this, without the cost of additional boilers, building
and overhead. Businessmen soon learned they could save considerably
on labor in the cost of power, because the gasoline engines could
in many cases, be operated by a regular member of their
So the demand for dependable and economical gasoline engines
came to the attention of many well established machinery
manufacturers desiring to build engines. One of these manufacturers
was Fairbanks, Morse & Company of Chicago, Illinois.
Charles Hosmer Morse, one of America’s pioneers in business,
started as a young man selling scales for his uncle, Thadius
Fairbanks, who invented the platform scale in 1833.
As an apprentice at $50.00 a year, he spent three years in his
home state of Vermont learning the scale business. Mr. Morse was
then sent out in the adjacent states selling scales.
From a typical New England family, Charles was raised among
God-fearing people who taught him the fundamentals of good conduct
and honesty which he practiced all of his life. He possessed a
vision, remarkable energy and was an organizer who advanced from a
scale salesman to that of a partner and founder of Fairbanks, Morse
Under his management, the company took the lead in developing
what was a new untried device, the gasoline engine. Mr. Morse was
always interested in new patents and was a good judge of what would
make a profitable product for his new and growing company.
In 1893, after the great depression and panic, Mr. Morse
purchased the Williams Engine Works at Beloit, Wisconsin. This
company had been represented by Fairbanks Morse as a sales outlet
for steam engines and power transmission machinery.
Events had been taking place in and around Chicago which brought
to the attention of Mr. Morse the success of the Caldwell-Charter
gasoline engines. Mr. Charter has been mentioned in a previous
During this same year, the Eclipse Wind Engine Company of Beloit
was purchased by Fairbanks Morse and together with the Williams
Engine Company, the ‘Beloit Works’ came into existence.
Now with the new manufacturing facilities, Mr. Morse made
arrangements with Mr. John Charter to be associated with Fairbanks
Morse as a designing engineer. He was to bring with him all of his
plans and patterns from the Caldwell-Charter Engine Company and to
start building the Fairbanks-Charter line of engines from 2 HP to
There was very little difference in the first Fairbanks-Charter
horizontal engines as built at the Beloit Works, from those shown
in the price list on Caldwell-Charter engines in the previous
installment. However, constant development was conducted by Mr. G.
Hobert and John Charter with their staff of engineers.
There were many early gasoline engine manufacturers in the
middle west, in the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and
Michigan. Two young engineering students at the University of
Wisconsin went into the building of gasoline engines before they
finished their college careers. Mr. Charles W. Hart and Mr. Charles
Parr, became acquainted in 1892 while both were students of
mechanical engineering and built several gasoline engines in the
University shop for use on the campus. One of these upright engines
is now on display there in the museum. After graduation, they built
this upright single cylinder engine at Madison, Wisconsin until
1900. Their engines were well accepted and they required a larger
plant and additional capital. They moved to Mr. Hart’s home
town of Charles City, Iowa where they put up a new factory and
started in production in 1901. Here, the upright engine, similar to
the original model, was built in the following sizes: (see chart on
These engines were also built in styles 1,2, and 3 which offered
the basic engine with choice of cast iron sub-base, with a
provision for a water cooling tank, mounted on the sub-base.
Hart-Parr Gasoline Engines
Price FOB Factory
10′ x 8′
22′ x 4′
Note:These engines equipped with hot tube ignition. Add $20.00
if electric ignition is required.
Then, another style offered an oil cooling system, instead of
water, that would operate in the cold climates without freezing. A
cast iron heating type of radiator was used for the oil cooler.
Another unique feature of the Hart-Parr engine was the
arrangement of adjusting the piston pin and connecting rod bearings
with a single screw. The bearing caps were hinged at the horizontal
center line of each bearing, so the caps could be adjusted by a
turn-buckle and rod connecting the inside part of each bearing cap.
This feature was used for years in Hart-Parr engines. Later, they
marketed a conventional vertical Style 41 HP oil cooled engine for
$ 180.00 complete with sub-base and oil cooling radiator.
Early in 1902, this company built and marketed one of the first
gasoline engine tractors in the United States. The machine was
powered with a two cylinder engine developing 22-45 HP. This
tractor (and the word tractor was coined by Hart-Parr Company) sold
to an Iowa farmer, operated for seventeen years, which reflected
the fundamental dependability of Hart-Parr design.
In 1903, the company built fifteen tractors which started the
organization into a successful career. Today, through the
consolidation of Hart-Parr, Nichols and Shepard Threshers, Oliver
Plow Company and American Seeding Machine Company, the organization
is known a the Oliver Corporation, a subsidiary of the White Motor
At Froelich, Iowa, a man by the name (as the town was named for
his father) John Froelich, had worked around steam traction engines
and had learned the shortcomings of the heavy, hard to handle smoke
belchers. He was mechanically inclined and figured there surely was
a way to overcome some of the fire hazards and bulkiness of the
steam outfits. In 1894, he went to work on building a tractor using
a Van Duzen gasoline engine and a Robinson running gear. It
consisted of steel rear wheels of the traction type with lugs and a
single cylinder vertical engine. With his helper, William Mann,
they designed and built the gears and transmission that would
propel this outfit forward and backward.
When it was ready to run, they took it to a testing ground where
there was plenty of grain to be threshed and where it took the
place of a steam traction engine. It did a good job! This original
outfit, traveling on its own power worked all the way from Iowa to
South Dakota that year and threshed over 70,000 bushels of
From this beginning, John Froelich organized a gasoline engine
manufacturing company known as the Waterloo Gasoline Traction
Engine Company at Waterloo, Iowa. In 1895 this company was
incorporated and built the Waterloo engines. Mr. Froelich’s
interests were in the tractor, so he left the company and moved
later to St. Paul. There was a big demand for Waterloo engines and
a larger factory was built to meet the demand. At the same time,
the company continued to experiment in tractor design and in 1914,
the first Waterloo Boy Tractor, Model ‘R’ was introduced.
This was a two cylinder, kerosene burning horizontal engine with
cylinder heads back toward the steering wheel and driver. This
machine was built up until 1923 and was the forerunner of the John
Deere Model ‘D’ tractor, which put this company in the
field of the ‘New Generation of Power’after the Model
‘D’ came the Row-crop tractor Model ‘A’ in 1939 and
then in 1952 Model ’60’ and in 1958 Model ‘730’and
at the present decade the Model ‘4010’.
In the middle West during this same period, the Fuller &
Johnson Company of Wisconsin was in the manufacture of farm type
gasoline engines, and a worthy competitor of the other engine
companies of that time. The story of this company has well been
described by Vera Kindschi for the readers of GEM, so I will not
comment further on this manufacturer.