The Edwards Gas Engine: UGLY BUT UNIQUE!

| December/January 1999

12300 Club Road, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404-9010

Editor's note: In our November issue, we ran a story about the Edwards Motor Company of Springfield, Ohio. We were unable to speak with Armand DeYoung before we went to press, but he has since sent us this story and pictures of his Edwards engine.

The Edwards gas engine is somewhat of a rare bird, a bit on the ugly side, but also unique. I purchased my Ed-wards engine several years ago while at one of our local shows. It was one of those days where I had scoured the buy/sell area several times when I walked up to a trailer load of engines and noticed this Edwards. I prefer open crankshaft engines, but for some reason I was intrigued by this engine with no obvious flywheels. The seller allowed another guy and me to remove the flywheel cover to have a look inside. I noticed that the engine had two cylinders, but the thing that really caught my eye was that this engine had igniters. I was not aware of any two cylinder engines that used igniters. Even with the magneto missing, I decided that this engine was something I should have, and a deal was made.

In his book, Encyclopedia of American Gas Engines, Charlie Wendel indicates that the Edwards engine produces 1.5 HP on one cylinder, 6.0 HP with both cylinders firing, and that the company was in business from 1924 to 1926. I know of no serial number listings for these engines, but two fellows have written to me stating they have name-plates on their sparkplug engines which have serial numbers 17993 and 20214.

I brought the engine home, and after a few days proceeded with the task of getting it started. I found a crank in the water hopper and noticed that the engine would have to be cranked backwards. In my opinion, cranking an engine is bad news, and cranking one backwards was even worse. I was successful in getting the engine to run using a battery in place of the mag. After a few minutes this knocking started. I shut the engine down and removed the flywheel cover to find that one of the rod bearings had disintegrated. This was the result of not spending enough time to make sure everything was being oiled. On the Edwards engine, there are two oilers, one for each cylinder, which lubricate the wrist pin and piston like most single cylinder engines. The oil also catches in a small indent near the wrist pin where it is pushed up a tube that runs along the side of the rod, apparently by centrifugal force, to lubricate the rod bearing. The tube on one cylinder was plugged and the bearing insert didn't like running dry. Both rod bearings were replaced with brass inserts made by Jim Patton, a friend (now deceased) and member of our local club.

The search for an original mag became another story. I placed an ad in GEM and had a call from a fellow in New Woodstock, New Hampshire. He had a collection of mags and was sure that he had one for an Edwards. I learned that he, Murray Clark, owned an amusement park which included a historical village. He also collected gas engines and had, among other things, several mags on display in his general store. He shipped the Edwards mag to me, and although half of the cone gear was missing, it was the right one. I am sure Murray knew I had a unique engine and he could have really taken advantage of my situation, but he refused to take a penny for the mag. He, like a lot of us, wasn't in this hobby to make money. This was really a first for me, but I sent him a video of the Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Old Threshers Show to show my appreciation.


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