The Hagan Gas Engine

Best Known Today for its Unique Carburetor, Hagan Gas Engine and Manufacturing Co. Followed its Own Path on the Road to Engine Manufacturing


| November/December 2002



Campbell Nameplate

Nameplate from a Campbell/Hagan.

A definitive history for the Hagan Gas Engine and Manufacturing Co. is very difficult to construct. Unlike larger engine builders such as International Harvester Corporation, Otto and Fairbanks-Morse, whose companies and records survived many years beyond their engine construction efforts, Hagan was a small, mostly regional player in the engine construction and sales field.

The Hagan Carburetor

Louis T. and Charles Hagan began their machine shop business in Winchester, Ky. sometime in the late 1800s. While it is not believed they were engaged in the actual construction of engines at their outset, they were already in the engine-rebuilding field by 1891 as evidenced by a surviving shop work list dated Nov. 6, 1891.

The brothers apparently had a 'better idea' as to how engines, and in particular engine carburetion, should be constructed. Their engine construction efforts began sometime in the late 1890s, with evidence that 1898 was their first year of actual engine manufacture. The initial Hagan engines, while similar to Hagan engines seen from time to time at engine shows, contained a carburetor that is unlike the chain drive fuel pump model for which Hagan is best known. The carburetor depicted in their earliest known promotional brochure (see catalog cut on facing page) shows a strange, cylindrical carburetor and a plunger-type fuel pump. Only one carburetor and pump of this style is known to exist. It is owned by Tommy Turner, Magnolia, Ky., and was acquired with the remnants of the Hagan Gas Engine and Manufacturing Co., which were purchased by Turner in 1982.

The chain drive fuel pump/carburetor was patented on June 23, 1903. The carburetor is unique in that it contains a well in which gasoline is allowed to accumulate. A belt driving the carburetor pulls a brass chain; the chain dips into the fuel and pulls fuel along its links, thereby acting as a fuel pump by bringing fuel to the top of the carburetor; and the fuel is then dumped over the end of a slide valve that is used for speed and fuel regulation.

Valve Layout

Hagan, unique in its design, used a 'rockshaft' for valve actuation. A double-lobe cam located at the rear of the engine (and driven off the crankshaft) drives rollers located on the end of a shaft, which in turn runs forward to the valves. The valve end of the shaft has actuating arms operating directly on the valve stems. The valves are located at the 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock position (looking directly at the end of the cylinder). As the cam lobes contact one roller of the rockshaft and then the other, the shaft simply 'rocks' back and forth between the valves, controlling both intake and exhaust. At a time when most stationary gas engines utilized atmospheric intake valves, a mechanically operated intake was quite progressive in design.

Hagan was awarded first prize as the most efficient and outstanding engine at the Atlanta Exposition at the turn of the century. Outside of its regional sales in Kentucky Hagan's main distribution was in Florida. The J.P. Campbell Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., sold many Hagan engines in that area. In fact, Campbell actually tagged Hagan engines with its own company tag stating 'J.P. Campbell, Jacksonville, Fla.' One such engine is known to exist, a 2 HP owned by Turner.