Those Wonderful 'Webspokes' built by John M. Kroyer


| December/January 1999



Samson Vertical

An excellent view of the side shaft drive and 'nasty starting handle.' Samson vertical #396.

2440 Thomas street ceres, California 95307

It is my opinion that these web spokes were built using the original pattern conceived by John Kroyer. I believe production began using the two-and-a-half horse vertical engine and the five horsepower horizontal 'N.' I believe all other Samson engines grew from these, the original idea and design.

My vertical Samson (serial #396) was machined using only a lathe and a shaper. Every part of it is stamped with a (4), which I believe is an assembly number, a number which identifies a mechanic to his work. In my opinion, each mechanic was issued a stamp, a sort of early day quality control. It also helped to avoid confusion on the assembly floor. Every engine has these marks. It is a stamp of a man who excelled at engine assembly. It also became a record of a workman, a company record. Sound right? We will probably never know for sure. Thirty years ago you could find these old boys who worked for Samson Iron Works. Now, their memories are lost forever, their experience just a dream. Be careful and record today that which might be lost tomorrow.

Now, let us review the handful of Samson vertical engines which survive.

Samson engines are an 'open' design which seems to have originated on the west coast. Four turned steel columns separate the base from the cylinder. The main bearing caps have oil reservoirs cast in to hold wicking. The big end of the connecting rod also has cast reservoirs to catch the oil that flows down the rod from the wrist pin area. The oil finds the cups through gravity, a very haphazard method, but it works quite well.

When I first saw a Samson vertical about twenty-five years ago, I fell in love with its side shaft actuating mechanism. It's actually a 'half side shaft using a face cam to activate the exhaust and ignition. The small driven gear on the side shaft is cast iron with cast teeth. It is not 'tooth' machined. A brass gear on the crankshaft drives the side shaft. You cannot count the number of clicks, snaps and pops these engines make in a cycle!