THE KUHNER ENGINE COMPANY


| December/January 1992



Kuhner factory

Fig. 1: The Kuhner factory in Oxford.

7964 Oakwood Park Ct, St. Michaels, Md 21663

The formal opening of the Kuhner Engine Company in Oxford, Maryland was held on December 1, 1911. The celebration was described in the Easton Star-Democrat the following day. Over a hundred guests attended. They were treated to an oyster roast, then shown around the new factory. The factory was a new concrete building, 50 by 160 feet, designed by architect Wilbur H. Johnson. The factory contained twenty machine tools, including lathes, planers, milling machines, and drill presses. Figure 1 shows the building and Figure 2 the interior. These pictures appeared in the January, 1912 issue of the Oysterman and Fisherman.

According to the Star-Democrat article, the new company was capitalized at $50,000. The officers were H. E. Kuhner, president; George M. Wingard, secretary; William B. Shannahan, treasurer; Francis W. Wrightson, William Mason Shehan, M. Tilghman Johnston, F. L. Cochran, and W. M. Bergman, directors. Kuhner was the president and Wingard was sales manager. These two men were given credit for organizing the new company. The directors (investors) were all well-known Talbot County businessmen.

The Certificate of Incorporation had been signed on May 14, 1911. The names of directors agreed with the new article. However, the Certificate stated that the company was capitalized at $40,000 rather than $50,000. That capital was obtained by selling 800 shares at $50 per share. The Certificate shows that George Wingard lived in Oxford.

Who was H. E. Kuhner, Figure 3, and where did he come from? We do not know his birthplace, but we do know from the Star Democrat article that he was a mechanical engineer and that his first employer was the Robert Faries Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Illinois, where he went to work in 1886. Kuhner received his engineering training through an apprentice program, not by university study. Such an education was common at that time. A few years later he went to work at the Rock Island Arsenal, building guns for the US Government. In 1899, he started his own company on the other side of the Mississippi in East Davenport, Iowa, and he named it the East Davenport Machine and Novelty Company.

The company manufactured engines designed by Kuhner. For marine use, they built one and two cylinder four-cycle engines and a single cylinder two-cycle engine. Other Kuhner engines were four-cycle vertical stationary engines in five sizes, 1? to 12 HP. Figures 4 and 5 are examples of the engines. Note that the stationary and marine engines are quite different in design. The stationary engine has an open crankcase and exposed timing gears and cam. In the marine engine the crankcase, gears, and cams were enclosed. They also built portable tank-cooled engines and a portable saw rig for cutting fire wood. The customer had a choice of piston-break or hot-tube ignition.