The Arkansas Messinger Engine

A Messinger engine found in Arkansas returns home to Pennsylvania.

| June/July 2017

  • Paul Schmidt's circa-1906 Messinger engine.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The 6 hp Messinger as it was when first acquired by Paul Schmidt. The original, burnt cart timbers are just visible.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Stitching the crack in the cylinder required drilling and plugging it, followed by filing and peening the repair line smooth.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Stitching the crack in the cylinder required drilling and plugging it, followed by filing and peening the repair line smooth.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Stitching the crack in the cylinder required drilling and plugging it, followed by filing and peening the repair line smooth.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The engine, flipped over to repair the cylinder crack by metal stitching.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • For the cart, Paul had to make a new rear axle to replace the original, which was bent.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The bolsters were shaped to match the original axle straps, then the stitch-repaired block was mounted.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Paul made a new exhaust valve stem and retainer.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • New intake valve seat.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The original connecting rod had broken in several places and been brazed back together.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The timing gear was also damaged, so Paul made patterns of it and the connecting rod.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The old and new connecting rods.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Cutting the gear teeth on the new timing gear.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The wooden pattern for the governor.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The finished governor (at left) next to an original that was loaned to Paul for making the pattern.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The disassembled igniter.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The igniter after repair and mounted on the finished engine. Paul also had to cast and machine a new fuel strainer, visible to the right of the gate valve for the fuel line.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • One of the broken muffler plates as found.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • Muffler plate epoxied together and covered with body filler before sanding.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt
  • The Messinger with the portable boring bar attached and ready for boring the cylinder.
    Photo by Paul Schmidt

Circa-1906 6 hp Messinger

Manufacturer: Messinger Mfg. Co., Tatamy, PA
Year: Circa 1906
Serial Number: 272
Horsepower: 6 hp @ 300 rpm
Bore & stroke: 6in x 10in
Flywheel dia.: 40in x 3-1/2in
Weight: 1,900lb
Cooling: Hopper
Ignition: Igniter w/coil and battery
Governing: Hit-and-miss, horizontal flyball governor


Messinger engines were built by Messinger Mfg. Co. in the small town of Tatamy, Pennsylvania, from 1903 to approximately 1925. Engines were assigned a serial number as they were built regardless of the horsepower. This is the story of engine number 272, an “early style” 6 hp that made its way from Pennsylvania to Arkansas, and back home.

Engine history

Rumor has it that this engine was shipped to Sevier County in Arkansas to work on the Bellah mine by one of the prospectors, Tyler or Hippack, who reopened the mine after its closure by the North American Ore and Metal Co. in approximately 1906. It could also have been hauled to Arkansas by one of three men, Sober, Williford or Lynn, who leased the mine from about 1912 until its final closing around 1915. It is also possible it was brought to the area by an unknown prospector from Pennsylvania hoping to strike it rich mining for silver, as there were many rumors in the early 1900s of silver strikes in Arkansas, most of which turned out to be antimony, zinc and lead. The Bellah mine mainly produced zinc and lead, with traces of silver and gold. It was mined during the Civil War by the Confederacy for lead. Most men worked in the mines till they could purchase land to clear and then became farmers.



After years of service at the mine it was moved to the Mickle farm, 2 miles away, where its duty was to pump water. After it outlived its usefulness on the farm it was pushed on a pile headed for the scrap yard. Apparently, the horse-drawn portable wagon burnt, with the only wood remaining being two charred sub timbers.

In 2015 a local man, David, seeing some history and value in the engine, rescued it and took it to his farm. Doing what repairs he could, he looked for someone who knew anything about the Messinger Mfg. Co. In Arkansas, the company was unknown. He came in contact with Brian, who lives in the Easton, Pennsylvania, area near Tatamy. Brian and his brother Mark did a lot of research on Messinger through the years and collected Messinger engines.