THE GAS ENGINES AT THE WESTERN DEVELOPMENT MUSEUM AT SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA


| March/April 1972



Lauson Power Products

Howard W. Wagenblast

It would take a brave man to try to tell readers of the Gas Engine Magazine anything about the gasoline tractor.

This is a field in which even the angels fear to tread and of which the full story has yet to be told.

In all modesty we can say that the Western Development Museum has one of the largest and most varied collection of gas tractors on the North American continent. Where else can you find a tractor whose main and only frame is a 6 x 10 length of lumber. The front wheel assembly bolted on to the front of the log and the rear wheel to the back. It was built in Medicine Hat Alberta. Competent visitors from all over the world express surprise and delight at our gas tractor displays. There are about 250 all told and most of them are restored to operating order.

In a companion letter, now going out to the Iron Men's Album the Museum tells the story of the Museum transition from a disused air force hangar of World War Two to a new building on Exhibition Park in Saskatoon. The writer of this article was an immigrant coming from England to Saskatchewan in 1908. Enough said! This will indicate that he was a witness to the birth pains of the coming of the. gas tractor to the wheat fields of Saskatchewan in the early years of the present century.

The term gas tractor covers a very broad field since such tractors would burn anything from gunpowder, turpentine, water, whiskey, powdered coal, distillate, coal oil and of course gasoline. I personally knew an early gas tractor man who claimed he had operated a Rumely Oil Pull on a quart of whiskey. This may have been a sinful waste of good 'likker' but it at least proved a point. John Froelich built a gas tractor in the United States in 1892. It was the forerunner of the Waterloo Boy. Two of the most prominent names in gas engine history are Charlie Hart and Charlie Paar. Their number one engine was produced in 1901. It weighed ten tons and was rated at 45 horse power on the belt and 22 on the draw bar. The Hart Paar was one of the first tractors to use fuel other than gasoline.

What can the gas enthusiast expect to see at the Western Development Museums in Saskatchewan in the way of internal combustion engines--to give them their proper name. We are not like the placid girl of whom it was said that her emotions ran all the way from A to B. The Museum gas tractors start with the Allis Chalmers and go all the way down to the Wallis. Along about the 1910 period it was open season for the makers of gas engines. Anyone with wild ideas that he could build a gas tractor went ahead and did it, even if he went broke at the job, as many did.