Identifying a K. C. Gasoline Traction Engine

By Staff
article image
LYMAN KNAPP
Photo courtesy of Mr. Lyman Knapp, Blackwell, Oklahoma.

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!

Here is a picture of a 12 HP Oil Pull.

Here is a picture of the Knapp family and the 60
Caterpillar.

Here is a picture of a 20-35 Allis-Chalmers Tractor.

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