TAYLOR VACUUM ENGINES

By Staff
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Cross section of a Taylor Vacuum Engine, Model A.
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Taylor 2 HP-hit and miss type-speed 440 R.P.M.-crank shaft 1' ground, extended so pulley can be used (pulley not standing equipment)-engine cylinder honed-piston ground.

 Route 1, State Hwy. 103, Oakfield, Wisconsin 53065

Author’s Note: Before I begin, I would like to thank the
following people for the information they gave me: Mr. H. D.
Stephan of the Universal Milking Machine Company; Harold W. Schulze
from West Chicago, Illinois who talked to Mr. Taylor before his
death in 1977; Ken D. Dawson from Moorhead, Minnesota, who helped
in compiling this data for this article; and the many other people
who sent in this information to Ken Dawson and myself.

I would also like to point out that due to somewhat less than
complete information, some dates and information may be wrong and I
will be glad to hear from anyone who can correct me.

Mr. Jack E. Taylor, who founded the company, was born in Adair
County, Iowa, on February 15, 1888. At that time, his father was
sheriff.

Before 1920, the year the engine was being developed, Mr. Taylor
was a salesman for the Universal Milking Machine Company, working
in the Elgin, Illinois area.

During that time, Mr. Taylor began to think of a self-contained
unit, such as an engine and vacuum pump, as one unit, which would
be more compact and convenient with the elimination of the belting
of an engine to a vacuum pump. He thought of using a two diameter
piston, (which is the principle of the engine). He spoke to an
engineer on how to go about this.

Mr. Taylor built his first engine and showed and demonstrated it
at the Wisconsin State Fair, (possibly in 1921). Many milking
machine companies were interested in the engine for its
convenience.

Taylor Supply Company started in 1920, during its years
(1920-1937), produced some 14,000 engines. (More about this
later.)

Mr. Taylor produced four styles of engines. The first had no
designation for these were experimental. Serial numbers 0-5000 were
used for these experimental engines. It is doubtful that 5,000
experimental engines were built. So 5,000 was a start for
production of sellable engines. To my knowledge, as of this date,
none of the experimental engines have been found.

Mr. Taylor had some parts, besides the block made by other
companies and assembled them in his Elgin plant. This accounts for
the similarity of some parts to other engines, such as the
carburetor and flywheels on some Alamo, Economy and Stover
engines.

In the beginning he had some parts made by the Challenge Company
of Batavia, Illinois, which had the 6-spoke flywheels on the type A
style, after which Fairbanks Morse made disc type flywheels and
other parts for the later engines.

For most of the years, he had some parts made by the Alamo
Company of Hillsdale, Michigan. In about 1935, the Alamo people
went out of business and Mr. Taylor then had the parts made by the
Stover Company of Freeport, Illinois, until the time he stopped
building the engines.

Style A was the first sellable Taylor to come out. These engines
had the following traits: serial numbers went from 5000-6999
(APP.). All ‘A’ types were 2 HP and were spark plug fired
through the side of the block. The serial number was stamped on the
face of the flywheel, (engine exhaust side) and name tag.

The A style engine came with low spoke flywheels. They could be
gotten with two styles of ignition. These were a high tension
Webster rotary magneto or battery with coil and timer. These
engines had no governor and speed was controlled by gas supply and
vacuum. They had a minimum speed of 275 RPM with a maximum speed of
400 RPM. They came with water cooled heads and cast iron gas tanks.
The first A’s had one oiler in the water hopper, later the
A’s came with two oilers, (one in hopper, one on vacuum
cylinder).

The Taylor engine had a piston with two different diameters. The
gas engine part of the piston is 3? O.D. and the vacuum end is
53/8‘ O.D. (APP.). On the style A, the
ring configuration is 4 rings on the engine piston and 2 on the
vacuum.

The vacuum is accomplished by two valves connected to the vacuum
chamber, one on either side on the block. One is for the purpose of
intake from the vacuum line and the other is the exhaust for the
vacuum cylinder.

The style A engines were recalled by the company because of
faulty lubrication, ignition and cooling problems. There are still
a few style A engines around, so recall wasn’t perfect.

Many owners wondered how the engine piston was lubricated. It
was found that the oiler in the hopper on the style A sometimes
caused the vacuum valves to leak due to excessive amounts of
oil.

It was later suggested a small amount of Maytag oil be mixed
with the gas before putting it in the tank. This helped some in the
lubrication of the piston. But if the valves and cylinder above the
piston were not cleaned every so often, cylinder wear would result,
thus ending the engine’s life.

Now these engines were replaced with the type B engine, serial
numbers went from 7000 to 10,500 (App.), 1? HP, max. 480 RPM. The
very first B’s had a Webster magneto for ignition, but soon
dropped it; replacing it with the Wico EK magneto, they also
offered the Wico set up as a replacement to other previous engine
buyers for $8.00 in 1925, also the battery and coil systems with
timer could be obtained. All were of the hit and miss flyball
governed type with air cooled head and sheet metal gas tanks. The
‘B’ engine came with dish, solid, and 6 spoke
flywheels.

The engines Taylor built had an open base or leg-type base,
which was called a broken base engine. He had this engine put under
a stress test by a company in Chicago. The engine proved to be too
light in weight and slightly weak, so he then changed to a fully
enclosed base.

The next and final style was type C. The engine is a 2 HP engine
only with a closed base. Serial numbers went from 10,500 to 18,000
(App.) and then jumped to 50,000. It is hard to say if any engines
were made in between as base casting dates for 18,000 and 50,000
engines were only a year or so apart. The date of manufacture is on
the bottom right hand side of block. Besides the name tag, the
serial number is also stamped on the block (governor side). Many of
the features of the type B engine were kept on the C type. All
C’s came with air cooled heads and sheet metal gas tanks, and
one oiler on vacuum cylinder. This engine came with Wico EK magneto
and hit and miss governor only. They came with six-spoke, solid
with round holes and teardrop shaped holes in flywheels.

Both B’s and C’s have one ring on vacuum; three on
engine piston.

During the entire production of Taylor engines all engines were
spark plug ignition.

For the first four years of production he sold all of his
engines through other companies. Mr. Taylor produced his engines
for his former employer and co-backer Universal Milking Company,
Albert Lea, Minnesota, and later through other companies like the
Pine Tree Milking Machine Company, which is now Surge. They were
repainted and distributed by the Empire Milking Machine Company;
The Panhandle Milking Machine and Supply Company in Texas; The
Gascotgne Milking Machine Company of Reading, Berkshire, England;
Clarke and Faucet of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and Agar
Cross and Company, Ltd., Buenos Airs, Argentina-to mention a
few.

It might be noted that Universal Company sold some 8,000 engines
before sales stopped in 1931 due to the depression.

Mr. Taylor stopped building engines in 1937 when, he said,
electricity put him out of business, with the electric motor
gaining popularity.

Mr. Taylor, a very enterprising man, then went on to develop a
way to bottle carbon dioxide gas.

He had designed several steer feeder barns for confined feeding
on his farms. This farming operation was very successful.

Mr. Taylor also owned the Elgin Syringe Company, which made
throwaway plastic medical syringes to be used in hospitals,
etc.

Mr. Jack E. Taylor died in February, 1977.

If readers find mistakes or can add information, I would
appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.

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