Letters & Miscellanies

Belts, Light Plants, Trojan Bucket Loaders and R&V Registry Update

| March/April 2004

  • Bull's Eye Gasoline Engine

    Calvin Cochran
  • 1958 Trojan bucket loader

    Clay Blair

  • Bull's Eye Gasoline Engine
  • 1958 Trojan bucket loader

Belts and Dressing

I read the article about belts in the January 2004 issue (Stationary Engine List, page 24). I will be 90 years old Feb. 9, and I have had a lot of experience with belts.

The article mentioned stick rosin. I used rosin bought in hunks. I would take a hammer and powder it up, put linseed oil in with it and put it on while the belt was running. I ran threshers, corn shredders and lot of other things with belts.

We had a New Year's party that had string music, and I asked the man playing fiddle where he got his rosin. He told me he got it at a music store - that's about the only place he can find it.

We have a Case LA four-plow and an IHC 22-36 and go to several shows. I love to belt up and run something with the belt. I sure like to sit on them and hear the sweet music from the exhaust as the governor kicks in and out.

A lot of people ask me why they use such long belts on threshing machines. I always tell them it's for three reasons: 1) When they used steam engines it was to keep the sparks away from straw stack. 2) The long belt is heavy, and it puts a lot of pressure on pulleys so they won't slip. 3) It gives the men driving teams and wagons more room to get lined up at the separator.

Calvin Cochran

I read Helen's article in the January 2004 GEM on flat belts and saw the request to pass along information on belt dressing. About a year and a half ago I posted a message on SmokStak  asking the same question: Where can I get stick dressing? I got a reply from a gentleman who mailed me a stick. I was elated! Here is what is on the stick (it looks like a tube of grease that would fit in a grease gun):

SHEPS Stick Belt Dressing for Leather, Canvas, Gandy and Rubber belting. A product of  SHEPS Manufacturing Co. Arthur, IL 61911

However, a search of the Internet fails to locate the company.

Norm Stobert, Grand Ledge, Mich. nstobert@earthlink.net

Delco Light Plants

The recent article in GEM (January 2004) nicely depicted the Delco story and brought back memories of my younger days in the appliance business in the 1930s.

We were not Delco dealers, but we sold a few Westinghouse light plants. We also sold Gould's light plant batteries. Getting rid of the spent batteries was a problem, as the glass jars containing the lead and acid had to be handled with extreme care. I remember taking a set to the local town dump and shooting the jars with a 22-caliber rifle. After the plates dried out the lead was gathered and sold to the junk man.

The success of Delco was attributed largely to the high-pressure sales training of General Motors. I know firsthand, because we sold Frigidaire products and were equally trained in a most aggressive fashion. We were required to attend a yearly training seminar in Philadelphia, and by the time you completed the session you knew your product - and your competitors' products. GMAC financing was a convenient tool for the dealership, as it also provided a floor plan for the dealer's inventory.

The transmission of 32 volts DC power required much larger wire than 110-volt AC. Many circuits required No. 10 wire, and the generator would often be located between the house and barn so the load would not be too far from the batteries. We sold Maytag washers with 32-volt motors, but few other 32-volt appliances.

All told, the home light plant was a great success - probably more than anyone can imagine when you consider the kerosene lantern that was kicked over by a cow that burned down Chicago. I only wish Dr. Delco's museum was closer.

Dick Holcombe , P.O. Box 247 Dushore, PA 18614 dicke@chilitech.net

I enjoyed your article on light plants, and 1 thought you might like some more information.

The farmer had to make a choice of buying a 32-volt battery plant with a generator to charge it (such as a Delco) or a 115-volt plant, such as a Kohler. The 32-volt plant was cheaper and simpler, and if the batteries were sized right the engine only needed to run once a week. The major drawbacks were voltage loss over long runs and the fact that 32 volts was 'non-standard.'

The 115-volt AC plant was fully automatic and ran whenever power was needed: Turn on a light anywhere in the house or barn, and the light plant started. The big advantage was that it produced  advantage was that it produced 115 volts AC. Cities and towns were wired for 115 volts AC, so corresponding appliances were produced in higher numbers at lower prices. The ability to run a refrigerator sold a lot of Kohler light plants.

The other thing we tend to forget is that once the light plant was purchased, the house had to be wired. I have a few books from 1919 and 1920 on buying and installing light plants, and most of each book is given to wiring the house.

It is interesting that all the layouts and many of the ads for light plants show a porch light. Why? So your neighbors would know you have electricity. I have a Web page devoted to light plants at: www.oldengine.org/members/ frank

Frank DeWitt, 2365 Cox Road Bloomfield, NY 14469 frank@lbpinc.com

The article in the January 2004 issue on Delco light plants  was just the inspiration I needed to finish my restoration. This winter I have been working on a 1,250-watt, 110-volt Delco unit I acquired about 30 years ago. Now that I'm retired, I thought it would make a good cold-weather project.

As I began the disassembly process, I was impressed with the design and construction of the unit. It features a counter-balanced crankshaft with ball and roller main bearings.

However, the intake valve and mixer seemed rather small and restricted according to modern practice. Then I realized that this design prevents the engine from high over-speed if the electrical load is disconnected. Breathing is adequate for its rated load when charging the battery bank. It has a fairly flat speed-control curve, without resorting to a governor.

The small, high-velocity mixer is extremely simple and delivers adequate fuel whether the tank is full or almost empty, and without a fuel pump or even a check valve in the fuel line.

The engine has an aluminum  piston, overhead valves and the flywheel incorporates an efficient blower to cool both the engine and the DC generator. Some models even had a mercury-cooled exhaust valve.

Crankcase vapors are re-circulated through the mixer, and a crankcase ventilation valve creates a vacuum that prevents oil leakage around the shaft. This is pretty sophisticated engineering for a unit designed in the 1915 to 1920 era.

The DC generator also doubles as a starter motor, drawing power from the battery bank. This eliminates the need for a separate starter and flywheel ring gear. Charles Kettering and his associates deserve our admiration for the Delco plant, and for their many other contributions.

My thanks to you and Wayne Sphar for the very interesting article.

Dave Borchert, 47804 State Highway 22 Kasota, MN 56050

Trojan Bucket Loader

Hello and greetings to the good folks at Gas Engine Magazine!

I thought I would drop you a picture of my daughter, Lisa, my new (first) grandson, Brandon, and myself aboard our restored 1958 Trojan bucket loader as four-day-old Brandon enjoyed his first ride around the farm. I call this picture 'Get them started young.' Here are a few FUN specifications.

Thanks for producing the best magazine on the planet!

Clay Blair, 387 Collins Road Ellwood City, PA 16117



Trojan Loadster











Future Farmer

Bucket Loader

Power Plant

All Male






All Fours






23 inches

14 feet


8 lbs. 5 oz.

12,000 lbs.

R&V Registry Update

I want to let Root & VanDervoort owners know that my e-mail address has changed. All information and inquiries for the Root & VanDervoort Engine Register should be directed to: plowe@ceinternet.com.au

If you're sending details by mail, include an International Reply Coupon, which is available at the post office. The registry can trade the coupon for an airmail stamp so you can get a response to your inquiry. With 670 members worldwide, the expense of running the register is increasing.

I am completely rebuilding the R&V Web site, which can be found at: www.oldengine.org/members /plowe/rv-engines/rvpage.htm

Peter Lowe, International R&V Registrar 9 Jamefield Drive Maclean, 2463 Australia

Send letters to: Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265; e-mail: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com


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