Why 'Auto-Marine'

On Ferro Marine Engine Nameplates?


| October/November 2001



The following is one of several articles written by the late Max Homfeld but never published. These were recently found by his widow while going through some of his files, and the article appearing here was sent to us by subscriber Dick Day, who thought the information would be of interest to marine engine collectors.

I helped restore two Ferro marine engines for the I Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The first one was a 2-cylinder 2-cycle engine. The nameplate was inscribed 'Ferro Machine & Foundry Co., Cleveland, Ohio, Type G, 11 HP, serial no. 26885.' The second Ferro was a single cylinder 2-cycle engine with this added statement on the nameplate: 'Ferro Auto-Marine.' On this name plate, the model, HP, and serial number spaces were blank. The 'Auto-Marine' statement was intriguing, and I wanted to learn what it meant.

William Granson Rose's book, Cleveland: The Making of a City, tells that Ferro had its beginning as the Hoffman Hinge Company, making hinges and railroad car couplers. The name was changed to Ferro Machine and Foundry Company in 1905. The location was always at 3155 East 66th Street, Cleveland, Ohio. The company prospered by building high-quality marine engines, with Crispin Oglebay as president and treasurer. In 1910, he claimed that Ferro was the largest maker of marine engines in the world. The marine engine line consisted of ten models, 3 to 25 HP, using three different cylinder sizes, and built as one, two, and three-cylinder engines. All were 2-port, 2-cycle engines. The lubrication system was most unusual, as there was an oil tank (cast into the base on most models) which was pressurized by crankcase pressure through a check valve. Oil under pressure went to a row of drip oilers for main bearings, the pistons, and carburetor air. Coolant passages were drilled rather than being exposed pipes as on most marine engines of that time. Ferro built their own brass carburetors and timers. The 3 HP model was the Ferro Special, a lower-cost single-cylinder engine. It had a drip oiler for the piston and rod and grease cups for the main bearings, normal practice in those days. Ferro also built outboard motors during the years 1906-1917.

There was an article in a 1911 issue of Motor Boat Magazine saying that Ferro was going into the stationary engine business 'in a big way.' The stationary engines were simply the marine engines mounted on an iron base with a pair of large flywheels and a governor.

Ferro V8 Engines - Model Designation and Specifications

Model