From Creators to Collectors

The Foos Manufacturing Co. Scientific -- A Rare Engine Comes to Light in an Unlikely Guise


| February/March 2002



Foos Scientific Engine

The Foos Scientific as found by the author, the engine powering a tractor designed by Arthur Walton sometime around 1916. The unit is original to its 1916 construction.

The Foos Scientific as found by the author, the engine powering a tractor designed by Arthur Walton sometime around 1916. The unit is original to its 1916 construction.

The plate on the engine reads: Foos Mfg. Co. Scientific, Springfield, Ohio. A single-cylinder vertical with five-spoke flywheels, an open crank, nice and greasy, bearings in good shape and the piston free - and mounted on the oddest-looking tractor. The first time I saw it I knew, even if I had to get the bank's help, I had to have it. You only find something like this once in a lifetime

Built in Springfield, Ohio, sometime between 1905 and 1908, this 4 HP Foos Scientific has, it would appear, stayed fairly close to home. I know that no later than Feb. 26, 1916, some 10 years after it was built, this engine made its way to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, hometown to the S.S. Morton Ohio Manufacturing Co. and International Harvester Corporation through the years. In 1916 IHC was still building tractors at Upper Sandusky, and this Foos Scientific, I was to discover, was in the hands of one Arthur Walton who, evidently wanting to build a tractor of his own design, used the Scientific as the basis for his creation. Was Arthur inspired by the products leaving the IHC factory? I don't know, but it seems plausible he would have been inspired by what he saw around him.

Fast-forward to May 2000, 84 years after this tractor was built and my first time to lay eyes on it. I had towed a car to a local mechanic, and this mechanic happened to have purchased the Foos Scientific at auction the previous week. He was selling it, and only a few area collectors (all hoping to purchase the Foos Scientific) knew it existed. That was on a Monday. By Thursday it was at my home.

A few weeks later at the Portland Swap Meet, a friend of mine, Wendy Wolf, told me that her swap meet neighbor, a Mr. Lengacher, had a Foos Mfg. Co. catalog showing the Scientific - what a surprise, and a perfect item to go with my engine. In late May I took the Scientific, although not yet running, to the Buckeye Farm Antiques Show.