The Atlas Engine News

By Staff
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2 / 4
King Bee #30191.
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Atlas #27981
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Atlas 'King Bee' horizontal #29771

20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

The Hercules Engine News has been interrupted to bring you a
story about another Indiana gas engine company. The Atlas Engine
Works of Indianapolis, USA began manufacturing industrial and
commercial steam engines and boilers back in the 1870s. Toward the
end of the century they, like many others, entered into the gas
engine business. Design work was being done on gas engines in 1897
and by early 1898 patterns were being made with gas engine
production beginning later that year.

History regarding Atlas gas engine production is scarce. There
is some information in the Indiana Historical Library, but is
related to steam only. A full-page ad in the June 1906
McClure’s Magazine shows an Atlas horizontal gas engine. The ad
states that 2 to 5 HP vertical engines were available, along with 6
to 24 HP in the horizontal style. The ad further states,
‘Simplest, Cheapest, Safest of All.’ The engines are also
said to be, ‘Most Economical, Simplest of Its Kind, Ready to
Run, Needs No Attention, Starts Without ‘Cranking,’
Absolute Safety, Reliable and Durable and Completely
Guaranteed.’

An eight page sales brochure dated May 1, 1907, illustrates the
same horizontal engine and goes on to illustrate and describe the
various features. An interesting feature is the long sweeping
exhaust elbow, which is said to reduce back pressure, reduce fuel
use and increase the power output. This brochure, however, only
lists 2 and 3 HP verticals and 4 to 24 HP horizontals. Another item
of interest on the horizontal style is the split hub double keyed
flywheels. An oddity is the igniter trip, which pulls on the
igniter finger on the back stroke of the side rod. Shown here is a
4 HP horizontal Atlas ‘King Bee.’ It is engine number
29771.

Also shown here is a pair of 2 HP vertical Atlas engines and
their respective nameplates. The one on the left is the newer of
the two, having been produced in 1907 or later. Its tag reads:
‘King Bee Gasoline Engine, 2 HP at 450 REV, serial number
30191, Atlas Engine Works, Indianapolis, USA.’ The one on the
right was likely produced about 1900. Its tag reads: ‘Atlas
Gasoline Engine, 2 HP at 450 REV, serial number 27981, Atlas Engine
Works, Indianapolis, USA.’ Evidence indicates that Atlas
numbered their engines in sequence regardless of whether steam or
gasoline. The engines shown here are the only two verticals made at
Indianapolis that are currently known. They both have had flywheel
hub repairs, which indicated what may have been a severe weakness.
These engines have a January 8, 1898 pattern date on the back side
of the crankcase cover casting.

What is the significance of the King Bee? The last line in the
last paragraph of the brochure states, ‘Where a self contained
engine is wanted, we can furnish the ‘King Bee’ which is
identical in every respect with engines illustrated and described
in this bulletin with exception of having the gasoline tank in the
base of engine.’

Sometime in 1907, the company went into receivership. By 1912
the parts and patterns had been moved to San Antonio, Texas, and
production of Kruger-Atlas engines had begun. Except for the name
change, the engines initially remained the same. Later there were
some modifications, and eventually a hopper cooled Atlas Junior
line was produced. There are more of the San Antonio Kruger-Atlas
brand currently known than there are of the Atlas brand.

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