The Van Duzen Story

By Staff
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R.D.4,Box 185 Boyertown, Pennsylvania 19512

According to American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, compiled by
C. H. Wendel, the Van Duzen engine pictured was manufactured by the
Van Duzen, Roys Company, Columbus, Ohio (not to be confused with
the Van Duzen Gasoline Engine Company located in Cincinnati, Ohio)
founded by Benjamin C. Van Duzen in the late 1800s.

The Van Duzen, Roys Company, organized in 1912 by Frank Van
Duzen, son of Benjamin C. Van Duzen, and Mr. Roys who was
associated with the Columbus Machine Company, was incorporated in
1914 and, from all indication, was out of business by 1919. The
engines available in l, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 horsepower sizes were
sold only through legitimate trade channels and were not available
on a mail order basis as were many engines of that period. It has
also been learned that the engines were sold with a five year
guarantee and were quite expensive.

The Van Duzen featured in this story is owned by Fred and Betty
Serfass, who reside in the Boyertown area of Berks County,
Pennsylvania. They purchased it from the second owner in 1993. It
has a 4 inch bore and a 9 inch stroke, and is believed to be 4 HP.
According to a brass plate affixed to the inside of the combination
driver seat/storage compartment door, the engine was manufactured
for George D. Lessig, Reading, Pennsylvania. Mr. Lessig and the
Lessig family operated a large wholesale and retail farm equipment
business in Reading for many years. The engine and truck was
subsequently sold to the Schaeffer, Merkel Company, a farm
equipment dealer located in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania who then sold
the engine to its first owner, a resident of Oley Valley, which is
adjacent to both Reading and Fleet-wood. The engine was utilized
for many years to operate a threshing machine and, occasionally, a
buck saw. The second owner, also a resident of the Oley Valley,
acquired the engine in excellent original condition during the
early 1960s. With the exception of new paint applied sometime in
the 1960s, the engine and truck are all original including the wood
parts, crank, low tension coil and muffler. The engine is mounted
on a New Holland truck with a 63 inch wheel base. It is uncertain
whether this mounting was accomplished by the Van Duzen, Roys
Company or by the George D. Lessig Company. The proximity of New
Holland to Reading, Pennsylvania, suggests the latter. The truck
was designed to be pulled by a single horse or by manpower. The
horse shafts can be easily removed and a handle attached.

The present owners have been frustrated in their attempts to
locate the whereabouts of other engines manufactured by the Van
Duzen, Roys Company and would like to hear from anyone owning a Van
Duzen or possessing information on these engines.

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