Mining for Gold: A Rare Stover Model U Gets a Makeover

A 1913 8 hp Stover Model U used for crushing gold and silver in the mines of New Mexico is restored and running.

| August/September 2017

1913 8 hp Stover Type U

Manufacturer: Stover Manufacturing & Engine Co., Freeport, IL
Year: 1913
Serial Number: OE50391
Horsepower: 8 hp @ 300rpm
Bore & stroke: 6in x 12in
Engine Weight: 2,300lb
Flywheel dia: 42in x 3in
Flywheel Weight: 373lb
Ignition: Igniter w/coil and battery
Governing: Hit-and-miss flyweights
Cooling: Hopper, 15 gallons

Gold nuggets are attractive to most folk, as is silver ore. A lot of effort has been expended to find, grind and sell gold and silver. Precious metal mining in central New Mexico has a short but diverse history, stretching from the ghost town of Bland, New Mexico (including the better known Albemarle Mine), south to Los Cerrillos, on to Madrid (where coal was mined for heating nearby boilers for power) and farther south to San Pedro. The smaller San Pedro mountain chain south of Santa Fe was the site of many precious metal mining claims in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Many “one-lunger” engines, likely melted down for their steel once their work life was over, were employed in the day to power air compressors, mine hoists, rock crushers and electrical systems.

The Stover

This 1913 8 hp Model U Stover was purchased for the intent of crushing gold and silver ore from the San Pedro Mine in the then-bustling San Pedro, New Mexico, mining community one year prior to the start of World War I. It was manufactured in Freeport, Illinois, shipped through the John Deere Plow Co., Kansas City, Missouri, and then arrived in San Pedro.

It is suspected that the engine also powered water pumps for removing water from deeper shafts. Today, some of the shafts are full of water. Sometime around 1950, the engine was moved 5 miles to a Hyer, New Mexico, cattle ranch to pump well water. Then around 1985, the engine was moved to its current site at Camp Oro Quay, New Mexico. The camp retains some artifacts from the mining era for youth educational purposes. Staff and kids have really enjoyed seeing and studying this antique, now restored and running. Few schools today have an engine or shop class that would teach engine operating mechanics. The Stover has an open-crankcase, allowing camp staff to teach interested kids how an engine operates.

Engine inventory

Due to its age and multiple use locations – and who knows how many operators – the engine had been pillaged for brass parts and experienced several cold weather freezes. Given the Model U’s rarity, we’re fortunate to have it around and in working condition.