RD#2, Box 134, Genesee, Pennsylvania 16923
Back in March of 1989, I wrote a letter to this magazine in which I described the governor system of Leader engines. As a result of my endeavor to find out more about this company and its activities, I received many replies to my letter. Several fellows sent priceless catalogs, others sent some very nice pictures and whatever information they had. All in all, I would like to thank everyone who responded to my letter.
Whenever anyone sets out to do an historical research project, many hours are spent mulling over documents, old newspapers, original catalogs and what-have-you. In this writing, I will attempt to relay what I have learned about the Field-Force Pump Company and the gas engines they built.
I am a collector of locally built 'tired iron' and the Leader, being built 60 miles form my residence, was a target engine.
When time permits, I work on the info received to try and piece together the complete history of this company. It is a very complicated task to undertake, and will probably take several years to complete. This article deals mainly with the Leader gasoline engines, and I hope someone benefits from my efforts. Any person who has info on Field-Force Pump Company is invited to share it with me, as every little bit helps. Needed in particular are the original production records, drawings, price sheets, dealer items, etc. Collectors are also urged to send the serial numbers and a description of their engines and other Field built equipment. These will be recorded and hopefully published at a later date, as a registry of sorts. And now, on with the story of the Field Force Pump Company.
Field-Force Pump Company moved to Elmira, New York following a fire in its Lockport, New York factory. With roots going back to the early 1880's, Field was a maker of fine hand, portable, horse-drawn spraying pumps and rigs. Existing literature states emphatically that, 'we are manufacturers-NOT assemblers.' Field Force spraying rigs were, at one time, famous the world over. High quality was a hallmark of their construction, with cast iron and brass used throughout. Tanks were made of stainless steel, cypress, oak, pine, cherry and maple. Most of these spray rigs were put to use in the orchards and crop bearing fields of America and Canada. An early correspondence (4/29/12) indicates that the president of the company was a man named Harrison S. Chapman; Vice President a man named Lewis T. Barnes; and Secretary a woman named Laura C. Gilbert. This document also states, 'Established 1882-Incorporated 1901.' Most sources indicate a buyout in 1939, with a change in name and abandonment of the Elmira, New York facilities. Field held many patents on their products, most of which were on pumps. In 1909, this company jumped into the gasoline engine business with a solid, well-built design. It was called the 'Leader.' A horizontal 4 cycle, it was built in two sizes, the 2 HP No. 2, and the 3 1/2 HP No. 3. Both were identical except for physical size.
As with other Field products, high quality abounded. Heavy cast iron construction, simplicity and fine engineering were the stock in trade for this engine; no cheap engines even held a candle to the 'state of the art' Field-Force Company product. However, they were a very expensive unit to produce. 1912 prices were: No. 2, $85.00, No. 3, $105.00. Add to that $16.00 for the 'electrical equipment' and prices zoomed to $101.00 and $121.00 respectively. Consider the fact that a 2 HP Associated Manufacturers engine sold for $25.00 FOB. In order to get within the market something had to be done and, as a result, Field had to 'cheapen' its engines. Oilers were relocated, water hoppers were redesigned, the built-up disc crank was dropped on the No. 3, the governor was redesigned. The electrical equipment now came furnished as standard equipment. 1913 prices: No.2 $70.00; No.3 $80.00. Quite a change from the previous year. This proved successful as sales jumped dramatically. These engines also came as integral equipment on spray rigs.
As with many other manufacturers, Field built different types to meet various applications. For example, the No. 2 could be purchased as a pump-jack equipped unit. This unit was composed of the engine mounted on a 'substantial' base, walking beam, lift rods and floor pivot casting. The price for 1913 was $85.00. The effective pump stroke could be varied from 6 to 14 inches, thus allowing the engine and pump to work at its best advantage. It could be hooked up to most any pitcher or windmill pump, and with a couple of turns of the crank, chugged merrily away at a once time-consuming task! This allowed the owner to tend to other chores around the house. Like its little brother, the No. 3 was also offered with integral pumps. One popular version being a positive displacement type pump designed for high pressure applications. Two sizes of cylinders were built, both being brass lined. Standard equipment cylinders were 2 1/2' dia., 3' dia. being available at slightly higher cost. Pressure gauges enabled the operator to carry any pressure desired from zero to 300 P.S.I. A blow-off valve prevented carrying pressure above the capacity of the pump and gear drive mechanism. No less that 5 taps were used for attachment of hoses or suitable piping. Also included: a large air chamber to absorb pump surges, poppet valves or bronze ball valves (special order), electrical equipment and pump instructions. Prices ranged from $155.00 to $198.00(1912).
During the production years of the Leader engine line, many changes were made. Some were improvements, some were disasters. One such problem was the flywheel hub. It was reduced in diameter in 1913. This resulted in quite a few split key-ways and fractures in the hub area. After a few years of use, the gib keys would lose their taper and fit from the constant power pulses and ruin the flywheel and, in most cases, the crankshaft, too.
The governor on these engines worked by centrifugal force on the early ' models; later models were governed by spring force combined with centrifugal action on the governor weight. If the detent lever spring failed in operation, the engine would run away with itself!!!
Volume governing was available for a time. An existing example is owned by an Elmira, New York collector. The No.3 was rerated to 4 HP at 400 R.P.M. When this was done is, at this time, unknown.
Sources indicate that a small vertical of unknown HP was built some time prior to 1911. Another interesting style built was a tank-cooled horizontal single cylinder model. In all probability, these were prototypical engines built for research purposes and never saw final production. Positive proof in the form of existing examples will quell the legends.
However, proof does exist of Field's capabilities in a twin cylinder, 10 HP model. These were used on Leader 'Royal Giant Ospraymo' spray rigs. From the sound of Field's advertising, these were aimed at large estates and parks. They were built on special order exclusively and to customer needs.
Production of these engines was pobably quite small, as none have surfaced at this time. Build years are not known either.
When Field's total engine production is compared to the industry giants such as IHC, Associated, Waterloo or Stover, the number built is at best, a drop in the bucket. A generous estimate would be in the neighborhood of 4,500 complete engines sold. At this point, a listing of serial numbers is not known to be in existence, nor are any factory production records.
Up to 1912, when you purchased a Leader engine, an optional package was available to you to make your Leader complete. This package contained all of the 'necessary evils' required for proper operation.
Enter the electrical package-In 1912, your $16.00 bought you 'the works': 5 Columbia dry cell batteries, 1 1/2 volts each; 1 spark coil; 1 switch and weatherproof wiring; 1 oak battery box; 1 Mosler 'Spitfire' sparkplug; 1 Essex Brass Co. generator valve (carburetor); 1 exhaust pipe & muffler; 2 'S' wrenches; 1 oil can; 1 oiler, Essex Brass Co.; 1 can of compression cup grease; 1 can of cylinder oil (to insure the use of proper lubricants); 1 complete book of operating instructions for Leader engines.
Other options included several different sizes of pulleys, sprockets and flat belting. After June 1, 1924, Wico EK magneto ignition was available, only on order for No.3 engines. Cost at this time is not known. Spark plugs, oilers, grease and oil continued to be available from the factory as a service to its customers.
The specifications for a No. 2 Leader engine are as follows: Horsepower, 2 @ 425 R.P.M.; cyl. bore dia., 4.00'; stroke, 4.50'; weight, 315 lbs.; type of cooling- water, with hopper type tank, jacketed head also; number of piston rings-3, with lapped joints; piston type-trunk pattern; wrist pin-machinery steel; crankshaft-drop forging with extra wide bearings; flywheels-16' diameter, balanced, 6 spokes; connecting rod-adjustable at crankshaft end, babbited with bronze bushing on piston end; main bearings-babbited, adjustable w/shims; cylinder oiler- Essex Brass Co., 4 fluid oz. capacity; main bearing lube-cup grease, 2 cups; type of grease cups-Essex Brass Co., 2 oz. capacity; connecting rod Lube-cup grease, 1 cup; type of grease cup-Essex Brass Co.; type of fuel-gasoline; fuel tank capacity-2 1/2 gallons, U.S. measure, cast into base; type of carburetion-suction feed, approved by insurance underwriters; type of governor-hit/miss cutout set at 425 R.P.M.; space requirements-20' width, 32' length; valve arrangement-in head, replacable guides; intake valve-automatic, vacuum operation; exhaust valve-mechanically operated, 'Hidural' steel; type of carburetor- Essex Brass Co. adj. fuel feed; starting system-hand, crank included; furnished w/9' diameter pulley w/4' face.
No. 3 Leader Engine specifications are: horsepower-3 1/2 @380 R.P.M.; cylinder bore diameter-5.00'; stroke-5.250'; weight-500 lbs.; type of cooling-water, hopper type tank, jacketed head also; number of piston rings-3, w/lapped joints; piston type- trunk pattern; wrist pin-machinery steel; crankshaft construction- counter-weighted, disc type on early models, drop-forging on remainder of production; flywheels-20' diameter, balanced, 6 spokes; connecting rod- adjustable at crank, babbited, w/bronze bushing on piston end, non adjustable early models; main bearings-babbited, adjustable w/shims; cylinder oiler- Essex Brass Company, 4 fluid oz. capacity drip type; main bearing lube- grease, 2 cups; type of grease cups- Essex Brass Company, 2 oz. capacity; connecting rod lube-grease, 1 cup; type, of cup-Essex Brass Company, 2 oz. capacity; type of fuel-gasoline; fuel tank capacity-4 gallons, U.S. measure; type of carburetion-suction feed, Insurance Underwriter's approved; type of carburetor-Essex Brass Company, adjustable fuel feed; type of governor-hit/miss, cutout set at 380 R.P.M.; space requirements-24' width, 36' length; valve arrangement- in head, replaceable guides; intake valve-automatic, vacuum operation; exhaust valve-mechanically operated, 'Hidural' steel; starting system-hand crank, included; comes furnished with 9' diameter pulley w/4' face.