Gas Engine Magazine

Made A Gas Tractor Out of His Steam Traction Engine

By Staff

The following article is reprinted from Gas Power, November,
1908. We thank Ted Utess, P.O. Box 146, Three Mile Bay, New York
13693-0146, for sending us the issue. We wonder whether this
tractor is still in existence!

Under separate cover I send a photograph of a homemade gas
tractor. The engine is single cylinder 10 in. by 16 in., rated at
20 HP and runs 240 rpm. For gearing I used nearly all of a 10 HP
traction engine except boiler and engine. It is fitted with gravity
feed and wipe spark. Because of its size it is also fitted with
magneto and dry battery for starting, also has friction clutch on
both ends of crank shaft. It is used for hauling and threshing and
suits me much better than the steamer it replaced. It is water
cooled by spray circulating pump. If you think this will be of
interest to anyone who has an old steam traction and wants to save
something out of it, you are at liberty to publish it. I get many
valuable hints and helps out of Gas Power.

As experience in handling gas engines by new beginners is
wanted, here is mine. Some three years ago I, being discouraged in
running a steam thresher on bad water, concluded to try gasoline.
After corresponding with builders I decided on a 20 HP single
cylinder engine to take the place of the old 10 HP tractor
discarded. I built a channel iron frame and attached the gearing
and wheels the same as they were on the old machine. Have friction
clutches on both ends of crank shaft for convenience in starting
and was ready for business. Then trouble began. The engine would
not run up to speed when at work but lagged along and exhausted at
every opportunity like a steamer. We found by experiment that if
half of the intake was closed, it would run up to the governor but
could not pull much of a load. Complaint was made to the builders
and details given but the company did not seem to believe our
report and matters got worse instead of better. We are 300 miles
from the factory and did not like to have an expert at $4.00 per
day and all expenses just to show us that the engine was all right.
Well, the ‘Trouble Man’ came and found that the engine had
back pressure to such an extent that it could not run away and fire
every charge.

As for power, the engine is about equal to the 10 HP steamer but
much less trouble, as there are no leaky flues to replace each
season, as we had to do with the old outfit and there is less hired
help and expense. Now, should not the company have been able to
locate the trouble and to have saved us the expense and vexation of
trying to run a engine for more than a year? Let me say that I
know of another engine that would not run without the intake was
three-fourths closed. All this was before I saw a copy of Gas
Power; it would have been worth $100 to me that year. N.D. Smith,
Roscoe, Oklahoma.

Note: The trouble Mr. Smith describes in his letter and caused
by back pressure limiting the amount of charge taken into the
cylinder, is also frequently caused by a constricted or obstructed
passage for the fuel gasoline or oil. If an engine gets too much
air for the gasoline or oil admitted, it is sure to run lazily if
at all. By shutting off a part of the air and thus getting the
right mixture of air and fuel the charge will ‘explode’ or
burn instantly when ignited instead of an extended, burning as
before. The engine will therefore run up to full speed on light
load but as both the air and fuel are throttled the cylinder does
not get a full charge and, as in the case of back pressure, the
engine will not pull a full load.

  • Published on Jul 1, 1998
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