Letters & Miscellanies

Homemade Tractors, Cooper-Bessemer Engines and an Alma Engine Registry


| May/June 2004



Hercules-powered tractor

Reader Jerry Toews' Hercules-powered 'tractor.' It's believed that kits for making such tractors were once commercially available.

Jerry Toews

Homemade Tractors

I was interested to read the short article on homemade tractors that appeared on page 4 of the April 2004 issue. If the information I've heard is correct, there were companies that offered wheels, axles, differentials and a steering mechanism for making your own tractor. From there, you did the rest. The one I have uses timbers for the framework and a 7 HP Economy engine for power. It really is nicely done and a lot of fun to drive.

Jerry Toews, Goessel, Kan, jtoews@mtelco.net

Twin Cooper-Bessemer Engines

I have been an avid reader of GEM for many years, and for some time I even had a respectable collection of old engines of my own. Today, although I do not have the wherewithal to pursue the hobby as I would like to, I still stay on the lookout for any restorable engine or piece of equipment. Not long ago, I was doing some repair work on a lift at the PetroFac fabrication plant in Tyler, Texas, when I noticed a large engine hidden back in the far corner of the building. Closer inspection yielded a pair of Cooper-Bessemer engine/generator units of huge proportions. At the time, the engines were safely covered in the back corner of the building, so I made a note of them and went about my business.

The company has since sold out, the building has been torn down around the engines, and the new owners do not know what to do with the units. As far as I can tell, both assemblies are complete, although they are partially dismantled.

I was wondering if any individual or entity within the engine community could acquire and restore these machines? I would hate to see this pair go to the scrap yard.

The first unit is a Cooper-Bessemer Type JS-8-SG, serial no. 6921, 13-inch by 16-inch bore and stroke, 450 rpm, 1,420 HP, firing order 1-4-7-6-8-5-2-3. It's coupled to a Westinghouse Model E56F2W generator, serial no. 1S89P857, 1,250 KVA, 1,508 amp, 180/277-volt. The other unit is identical, bearing serial nos. 6922 and 2S-89P857, respectively. These engines are turbocharged (and possibly inter-cooled) natural gas units. I can put interested parties in touch with the owners.