What Was It Used For?

| March/April 1994

483 Marilyn Dr. Utica, New York 13502

I am an avid collector of one cylinder old time gas engines, and I usually display something or other every year at the Flywheels and Pulleys annual Engine and Tractor Show in Con-stable Ville, New York. One of the most frequently asked questions at the show is 'What was it used for?' This question is second (this year, anyway) to 'How much is it worth?' I don't know the current value of most of the engines in my collection, but I do have a small collection of sale literature that serves to illustrate what these old relics were used for. I know the typical reader of this magazine is probably well aware of the past uses, but I thought these illustrations would be of some interest.

The first two pictures are from the Ransome Concrete Machinery Handbook of 1908. The company was based in Dunellen, New Jersey. Most of the machinery illustrated is either steam or electric powered, but this cement mixer was gas powered (1). It appears to be powered by an International Harvester engine. I could be wrong; the catalog doesn't say. Picture (2) shows the inside of the Ransom factory. Visible to the right of the photo is one of the gas engine powered cement mixers.

The next batch of photos are from the Wonder Equipment Catalog, from the Construction Machinery Company, (formerly the Waterloo Cement Machinery Corporation), of Waterloo, Iowa, dated May 1, 1924. Picture (3) shows a gas hoist and a mud pump. The units are powered by smaller Fuller and Johnson engines. Picture (4) shows a 'Double Drum Hoist' with a 9 HP engine. I can't positively identify the engine, but I suspect it was made locally in Waterloo, perhaps even by the company itself. Picture (5) shows a 'Double Quick Back filler' with a similar engine. I don't know what a back filler is, but the unit looks like a hoist on a pivot. I suspect some components are not shown. Other illustrations in the catalog show cement mixers with cowled engines similar to Jaeger equipment.

The next five illustrations are from a Meyers Pump Catalog, dealing in orchard sprayer equipment. The date is unknown, but it is sometime after 1924, since many of the illustrated engines have Wico magnetos. Picture (6) shows a small wheeled spray rig, sold without the engine. The engine mounted to this example is a smaller Novo, with Wico ignition. Picture (7) shows an International Harvester 'M' mounted on a slightly larger outfit. Meyers also sold units complete with engine. Picture (8) shows a unit equipped with '...a 2 HP Hercules with Wico Magneto, not affected by water, gives ample power and is dependable.' Picture (9) shows a large outfit complete with '...Le Roi, double cylinder with magneto, high speed 6-8 horse power...' engine. Picture (10) shows a unit with a Novo or similar engine mounted to it.

The next three illustrations are from a catalog entitled, V & K Pumps for Domestic Water Supply issued by the Vaile-Kimes Co. of Dayton, Ohio. The catalog is undated, but an included Dealer Discount Sheet has an effective date of July 18, 1919. The advertisements cover mostly electrically operated systems, some set up for hard and soft water operation. The soft water was from a cistern, and the hard water was from a well or other source. One series of arrangements used the water pressure from the hard water supply to run a water powered pump, similar to a Worthington steam pump, for the soft water supply. Several gas engine powered outfits are also illustrated. Picture (11) shows a deep well pump outfit. Picture (12) shows a shallow well outfit, and picture (13) shows a shallow well system. The ranges of horsepower of the included engines run from 1 HP to 3 HP. The engines appear to be made by Stover.