The Ostenberg Engine

By Staff
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An Ostenberg engine at work, circa 1913. Ostenberg engines were
designed and built by Swedish immigrant John A. Ostenberg in San
Jose, Calif. Before starting his company in San Jose, Ostenberg was
an engine designer and factory superintendent at the Abenaque
Machine Works in Westminster Station, Vt., and his name appears on
patents for the design of the first Abenaque engines. Ostenberg
supposedly built engines ranging in size from 10 to 40 HP. The
engine shown is thought to be a 15 or 20 HP unit.

This photo was given to me by my late pal, Henry Gerdts – he is
the young lad up on the load behind the muffler. According to the
details Henry gave me, this photo shows an ensilage cutting scene
about 1913 on the Chase Ranch in east San Jose, near the present
day Eastridge Shopping Center.

The engine is a twin-cylinder opposed Ostenberg gasoline engine
built about 1905. The engine is either a 15 or a 20 HP model. The
man pitching fodder into the cutter is George Young, and the lad
watching him is Henry’s brother, Herman. The man standing
behind the cutter, barely visible, is a hired hand, Mr. Corry. The
man in the foreground is Henry’s father, Nicholas Gerdts. The
photo was taken by Gretchen Gerdts, Henry’s mother.

About 1910 or so Ostenberg sold the manufacturing rights to his
engine to the Bean Spray Pump Co. located in San Jose. Bean renamed
the engine the Bean Opposed Engine. A pal and I were able to
purchase one of these Bean engines 10 days ago. More on our
purchase later on.

Contact engine enthusiast Dick Hamp at: 1772 Conrad Ave.,
San Jose, CA 95124, or e-mail: stoverh@jps.net.

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