Mysteries abound in the engine-selling history of Flint & Walling
When the name Flint & Walling is mentioned, you will probably hear a lot about windmills and pumps. After all, they are best known for inventing the “Star” windmill in the late 1870s. What you might not hear much about are their engine sales.
Looking at engines in Flint & Walling’s catalogs from 1901-1930 can be somewhat deceiving, leading one to think these engines were made by F&W. However, there has been a lot of speculation that F&W actually sold re-badged Alamos and Woodpeckers.
According to an article published in the Kendallville (Indiana) News-Sun, the company traces its beginnings back to a Canadian, Simeon Flint, and a New Yorker, David C. Walling, who moved to Kendallville, seeking work. The article states, “What they found would become one of the leading manufacturers in windmills, pumps and water systems in the world, the Flint & Walling Mfg. Co.”
The men bought a share in a small foundry, opened in 1854 by William Hildreth and Henry McComskey. In 1866, the company was reorganized as Hildreth, Flint & Walling Mfg. Co. and it was enlarged to handle an increasing production of agricultural implements. In 1871, Henry I. Park of A.B. Park & Bros. acquired Hildreth’s one-third interest in the company and it became Flint & Walling Mfg. Co.
The article also states that Flint concentrated on windmills, while Walling made improvements to single-acting, three-way and double-acting force pumps. The company sold its products under the names Star, Hoosier, Galvazink and Fast Mail. The company was incorporated in 1886 for $90,000. Flint died in 1894 and Walling followed in 1914.
In the early 1900s, the company began manufacturing a variety of items, such as light towers, storage tanks and washing machines. It even manufactured steam engines. Two thoughts could be taken from this fact: Either we believe that since the company made steam engines, it is not so far off to believe it made gas engines; or since there is mention of many other items made by F&W and no mention of gas engines, we believe it did not. Either way, we’re guessing and the mystery remains. Did F&W build its own engines?
Flint & Walling Inc. is still in business today, mostly making water pumps and accessories.
While the company has retained little information on their engine sales, Earle Franklin, technical support for F&W, has compiled information from old catalogs and may have the largest collection of F&W material around.
In regards to the company’s engine sales, he says, “Flint & Walling had a foundry and there are thoughts that F&W made castings for Woodpecker and in return, Woodpecker may have built engines for F&W or sent parts and F&W built them in return for providing castings.” However, Earle says he has found no evidence (only similarities in the appearance of the engines) to suggest Woodpecker or Alamo were ever suppliers for F&W. But, Earle says, “If you put a Woodpecker and F&W side by side, you couldn’t tell the difference.” (The same can be said for F&W and Alamo upright engines.) Coincidently, not much has been heard about Woodpecker engines after 1915, the same year Woodpecker-style engines appeared in Flint & Walling catalogs.
Aside from suppositions of a vague manufacturing history, this is what Earle does know: Flint & Walling first used Charter engines of Chicago, Ill. “The first mention of engines is in catalog 42, dated 1901,” Earle says. “Prior to that, in catalog 32, dated 1897, they used the Daisy engine and boiler (for steam engines).”
The name Hoosier, as stated previously, was purely a marketing name. There was even a Hoosier Jr.
C.H. Wendel wrote in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, “From all appearances, the Hoosier engine was a short-lived project, as no references to the engine can be found after 1908.”
According to Earle, the Hoosier catalog in this article, no. 73, is dated between 1901 and 1915. Although Wendel states there is no mention of Hoosier engines after 1908, the consistency of the previous catalogs (no. 32 in 1897 and no. 42 in 1901) suggests the date was probably toward the end of that time period, around 1913. And, the last mention of engines that Earle has seen in catalogs is in 1930.
Earle knows of one engine marked Hoosier/Flint & Walling, which is a 1-1/2 HP. He thinks the photos in his catalogs must have been altered, as he has yet to see pinstriping or the F&W logo on an engine. He says most have a decal, and he has yet to find one readable. Earle’s F&W engine has the outline of a decal and he knows of one man in Ohio who has a 3 HP, on which he can read “Kendallville, In. USA.”
So what is a Hoosier? Unfortunately, all we can do now is wonder. The similarities between Flint & Walling engines, and Woodpeckers and Alamos are intriguing and speak for something. Problem is, we may never know what.
Hoosier catalog courtesy of Mike Monnier.
Contact Earle Franklin at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Flint & Walling, contact Jerry Stienbarger at the Mid-America Windmill Museum, 732 S. Allen Chapel Road, Kendallville, IN 46755; (260) 347-2334; www.midamericawindmillmuseum.com
The museum will host an engine show Oct. 7, 2006.