Identifying a K. C. Gasoline Traction Engine

T. H. Krueger shares information on identifying a K. C. Gasoline Traction Engine, including tractor parts and tractor history.

| January/February 1967

  • Caterpillar
    Photo courtesy of Mr. Lyman Knapp, Blackwell, Oklahoma.
  • 12 hp Oil Pull
    Photo courtesy of Herb Born, Kilkenny, Minnesota.
  • 20-35 Allis-Chalmers Tractor
    Photo courtesy of Seymour Hemke, Ada, Minnesota.
  • H K Huber tractor
    Photo courtesy of Mrs. Dorothy B. Smith, Ontario, New York.

  • Caterpillar
  • 12 hp Oil Pull
  • 20-35 Allis-Chalmers Tractor
  • H K Huber tractor

Identifying a K. C. Gasoline Traction Engine. 

On top of page 28 of the November-December 1966 issue of G.E.M. is that treasured 1914 picture of a tractor with a canopy, courtesy of Gerald Jacobson, Marshfield, Wisconsin. The tractor shown is a "K. C. Gasoline Traction Engine", built (about 1910) by the Kansas City Hay Press Company, Kansas City, Missouri. It is a single cylinder, 4-cycle engine of the OPPOSED-PISTON type, not opposed-cylinder type. Gerald Jacobson has properly described the engine.

The engine has one long cylinder-barrel, with two pistons working in this barrel, the piston-heads coming nearly together at the middle. The space left between the pistons forms the combustion space where the make and break igniter is, where the fuel-air mixture is taken in and the exhaust gases are let out. This opposed-piston engine can pull or idle, comparatively slow rpm wise. The principle is an efficient one because of low heat loss, since only a small area is exposed to the cooling water. This engine is quite vibration less, since combustion is between the two pistons which are parting in opposite directions on the power stroke. The K. C. Hay Press Company rates the tractor as 10 hp. That is the belt hp. The draw-bar hp. would be about 6 or 8 hp. I don't know what prompted Gerald to state the tractor is about 25 hp. The single cylinder with 7 in. bore and a combined stroke of 12 in. (each piston has 6 in stroke) and with a governed engine speed of 250 rpm., it could hardly develop more than 10 hp., so we could call it a 6-10 hp. tractor. I imagine this engine would develop a maximum of 15 hp., giving the tractor good reserve horse-power. I am wondering if this particular tractor was in Gerald's family and he remembers or has heard comments from his kin on the "K. C." tractor. It would be interesting to hear further from Gerald, through G.E.M., regarding this 10 hp "K.C.". Anyway, what an interesting exhibit it would be if this tractor was in "our" captivity, complete and in good running order! Further, it is quite interesting to note that the "K. C." people manufactured quite a line of machinery, which was called the "Lightning Line".

"Lightning" seemed to be their trademark. Their line consisted of: horsepower and belt power hay presses; gasoline traction engines 10, 22, 45 belt hp.; portable and stationary gasoline engines 3 to 40 hp.; sweep rakes and stackers; power feed grinders; stump pullers; wagon and pitless scales; centrifugal pumps; bale tie machines; bale ties and cattle chutes. Here is another identification. Turn to page 32 of the September-October 1966 issue of G.E.M., top of the page is the engine submitted by Ruben Michelson for identification. Well, I personally have never seen one, either "'in the flesh" or through catalog, so I had no way to give any helps. But I asked about the "Hummer" gas engines in the September 1966 issue of Engineers and Engines, page 8, and a few days later I got a letter from Otto A. Meyer, Winchester, Indiana. According to Otto, the engine in G.E.M., page 32, September-October 1966 issue, is a "Hummer". Here is a portion of his letter written to me:

"Dear Sir: Have just now received my copy of the E & E, September issue. If you are a subscriber to the 'Gas Engine Magazine', you will notice, on page 32, a 'What Is It' engine illustrated in the September-October 1966 issue. I have an engine, exactly the same as the one shown in the 'What Is It' column, right down to the throttle lever, the Wico magneto, and the hole in the flywheel. According to the name-plate, it is a 'Sattley' (Montgomery Ward) l hp., serial No. 64067. That picture was submitted by Ruben Michelson, Anamoose, North Dakota, 58710, and he could probably supply you with a picture. I wrote him, advising him as to the make of the engine. I hope this letter will be of some help to you regarding the 'Hummer'. Yours truly, O.A.M." 

This H. K. Huber tractor is owned by George Knab of Spencerport, New York, a Director of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association. It has a 51/8 by 6 Waukesha motor. This tractor was purchased new in 1936 by Fred Schafer of Spencerport and was used to run a 30 by 52 Huber Roto-Rack grain separator and a Bidwell Standard bean thresher with recleaner until 1962, when George purchased it. It was always well taken care of and housed. No restoration was necessary except a coat of paint. It is a fine piece of machinery.

A little more information that I might offer that has developed from the Ruben Michelson "Hummer" (Sattley, by Montgomery Ward) engine, and in answer to Stan Read's troubleshooting letter in the November-December 1966 issue of G.E.M., page 6, over halfway down the third column, where Stan inquires for information on the Sattley Company. Truthfully, I don't know where "Sattley", as used by Montgomery Ward, originated; but it has seemed to me that M-W used the name "Sattley" on their engines, whether built by Field-Brundage Company or Nelson Brothers, same as Sears-Roebuck uses "Economy" on the engines built by Hercules for Sears, etc. In the 1936 Buyer's Guide, put out by Farm Implement News, there is listed the Hummer Manufacturing Company, Springfield, Illinois, builders of farm implements, no mention of gas engines. The following is a portion of a letter I got from a Montgomery Ward man a few years ago. He wrote of M-W offering, in 1922, Sattley throttling governor kerosene engines, as well as the 3-speed hit and miss style. These engines, he wrote, were quoted as shipped from factory in Springfield, Illinois, which means that they were made in our Sattley factory, which later was changed to the Hummer Manufacturing Company. The engines just mentioned were built by Field-Brundage Company in Michigan, I believe. Then, he wrote, engines were built by Nelson Brothers, Saginaw, Michigan, and still called the "Sattley" by Montgomery Ward. This thing is interesting but confusing!


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