2010 Featured Engine - WISCONSIN

Wisconsin was advertised as the "world's largest builders of heavy duty air cooled engines"

Early History Of The Wisconsin Motor Company

This news article was supplied by David Swanson of the ASECC (Antique Small Engine Collectors Club.)

     The WISCONSIN MOTOR MFG. CO. was organized to build automobile, truck and marine engines on March 1, 1909. Charles H. John was elected President and Treasurer, Edward Schwartzburg, Vice-President and A.F. Milbrath, Secretary and Chief  Engineer.

     The company started in a small shop in North Milwaukee where it operated until the end of 1910 when the first section of the new plant built by the company in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, was ready for occupancy.  The company moved into this new plant during the last week of December, 1910.

     The first model of engine built was the Type "A", a 4-3/4" bore by 5-1/2" stroke, four cylinder "L" head engine.  This engine was used in the Stutz automobiles, the Clintonville Four Wheel Drive trucks and many other installations which gained considerable popularity and fame, due to their exceptional performance.

     Other models of engines were brought out by the company, both four cylinder and six cylinder, until the final line included many sizes from a 20 H.P. four cylinder, to a 200 H.P. six cylinder.  All of these engines were 4 cycle, WATER-COOLED.

     WISCONSIN engines were also prominent in racing before World War 1, and in 1915 two Stutz cars, powered by WISCONSIN engines, came in 1st and 2nd at the Sheepshead Bay, Long Island Speedway against a field of several dozen of the worlds' most famous race cars.

During the 1st War the company built only their original Model "A" engine for the Four Wheel Drive trucks which had been adopted as the standard vehicle of the Ordnance Department.

     During the 1920's, a full line of water-cooled engines was built for many varieties of installations.  In 1929 the attention of the company was turned to AIR-COOLED engines and a number of single cylinder models were brought out.  In 1935 a four cylinder F-type AIR-COOLED engine was added.  These engines were used in every conceivable type of equipment very successfully and the demand for these engines increased so rapidly that by 1939 the air-cooled engines had entirely displaced the water-cooled line so that now only AIR-COOLED engines are being built.

     The plant has been considerably increased in size and it is completely equipped with the most modern machinery and the company is now turning out 20,000 to 22,000 engines per month.

     A number of changes have been made in the management of the company since the beginning.  Mr. H.A. Todd has been President of the company since 1937. A. V. Milbrath, who is now Vice-President, has been in charge of engineering throughout.

Antique Engine History and A Little Technical Stuff

by Larry Harding - Apple County Antique Engine & Tractor Association.

The Gasoline Engine

As you walk around show grounds and see flywheels turning, hear the popping and see smoke, you may wonder what these things are and what purpose they could have served.  You may find it hard to believe, but these are gasoline engines and the forerunners of the high speed, fuel injected, electronic ignition engines used in today's cars, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes and garden equipment.  I hope to give you a little history lesson and some insight on this hobby.  I dare say that no other invention of our times has touched more lives and changed the course  of the world more than the internal combustion engine.  There are still people in remote parts of the world that have never seen a cell phone or a computer, but you can bet they have seen an airplane, automobile or something using an engine.

It is hard to picture a time with no cell phones, walkmans, or even electricity, but that is the way it was 200 years ago.  All work was done by hand, with the help of animals, water or wind power.  In the late 1700's, James Watt had developed a practical steam engine that was able to save a lot of physical work and even led the way to power steamboats and locomotives.  The steam engine had its drawbacks though.  They were big, cumbersome things and required constant tending to keep them operating, hence the term engineer.  You had to build and maintain a fire in the boiler and there was always the chance of a boiler explosion.  By the mid 1800's, Otto in Germany, as well as several others had developed crude internal combustion engines.  These early engines used city gas, illuminating gas, or producer gas.  Gasoline and kerosene fuels came in a little later.  Even as crude as these early engines were, they were a lot easier to use than steam engines.  By the turn of the century, nearly every city big enough to have a iron foundry and machining facilities had someone building engines.  Hundred, if not thousands, of engine manufacturers sprang up all over the civilized world.  These engines were a boon to farmers and industrialists alike.  The farmer with the purchase of just one small engine could now run his cream separator, wood saw, butter churn, corn sheller, feed grinder, gristmill and pump water.  Everything from small shops to factories could be run on engines now.  In the Sough, large heavy oil (semi-diesel) engines were often used to power cotton gins.  These engines could usually be started in just a few minutes time, without waiting for a head of steam to build up before operating machinery.  The heyday of these heavy single cylinder engines was not to last forever, though.  In 1935, the Rural Electrification Administration was created to bring electricity to the countryside lessening the need for engines.  Industry was turning to more efficient multicylinder engines as well as electric power.  Companies such as Briggs & Stratton and Wisconsin were producing lightweight high speed air cooled engines for portable machinery.  Some of the old engines continued to give service for many years to come running wood saws, water pumps and so on.  Except for some of the big engines still in use in the oil fields, most have become collectors items.  Nothing today sounds quite like a hot & miss popping along at a show.  Let's hope these relics of the past will be here for future generations to enjoy.

A Little Technical Stuff. . . . . . . . . .

There are two basic categories that antique engines fall into, Throttle Governed or Hit & Miss.  All engines have to have some way to maintain a preset operating speed (RPM's - revolutions per minute) under different load conditions.  Usually a set of weights that spin outward as speed increases is used, although several other designs may be encountered.  With the Throttle engines these flyballs, as they are called, operate a valve called a butterfly in the mixer, or carburetor.  As the engine speed increases, the flyballs spin out, closing the butterfly.  If the engine slows down due to increased load, the butterfly is opened to compensate and maintain speed.  Most "Kerosene" engines use this type of governor, they just have an extra metering screw in the mixer.  The engine is started on gasoline, then switched over to kerosene after it is warmed up.  Throttle engines run warmer than hit & miss, this helps to vaporize the kerosene.  This method is used on engines of today such as lawnmowers, tractors and so on.  When running, throttle engines have a steady putt putt putt sound.  The Hit & Miss uses flyballs too, but instead of closing a butterfly, the engine stops firing until it slows down to a certain speed, then begins to fire again.  This is done in a number of different ways, the most common being a detente lever that moves into place and keeps the exhaust valve from closing.  Some oilfield engines do just the opposite, not opening the exhaust valve when the engine is up to speed.  Other methods include stopping the fuel or cutting off the ignition to stop the engine from firing.  Collectors enjoy tinkering with their engines to see just how long they can get them to go between firing impulses.  When running the Hit & Mill will have a putt Putt Putt sound.  As you walk around show grounds, listen to the engines run and ask the exhibitors a few questions, most will be glad to oblige you and show you what makes things work the way they do.  Before long, you will know a throttle engine from a hit & miss just like the experts.

Models TE=TF  (Side Mount Tank) VIEW OF ENGINE

Models TE=TF Power unit, fan end view of engine

Model VE4 (Side Mount Tank) view of engine


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When the season's work is completed, the following instructions should be carried out very carefully to protect the engine over winter.

The outside of the engine, including the cooling fins on the cylinders and heads, should be thoroughly cleaned of all dirt and other deposits.

The air cleaner at the carburetor intake should be thoroughly cleaned of all oil and accumulated dust and sediment removed form the oil cup at the bottom of the cleaner.

To protect the cylinders, pistons, rings and valves and keep them from rusting and sticking, a half and half mixture of kerosene and good gas engine oil, (the same kind of oil as used in the crankcase of the engine), should be injected into the pet cock on the intake manifold while the engine is warm and running at moderate speed.  About a quarter of a pint is necessary on a flour cylinder engine, or enough so that a heavy bluish smoke will appear at the exhaust.  The ignition switch should then be shut off and the engine stopped.  This operation will give a coating of oil on the above mentioned parts, protecting them from the atmosphere.

On engines where there is no pet cock on the intake manifold, the kerosene and oil mixture may be injected into the air intake on the carburetor while the engine is running, so the mixture will be drawn into the engine.  The air cleaner connection will of course have to be disconnected from the carburetor to do this.

All old used oil should be drained from the crankcase while the engine is warm, as the oil will then flow much more freely than when cold.

Drain fuel system, including gasoline lines, carburetor, fuel pump and tank of all gasoline to prevent lead and gum sediment interfering with future operation.

All exposed unpainted metal parts should be coated with grease or heavy oil


Before starting the engine again the next season, the crankcase drain plug should again be removed, so that any condensation, which may have collected during the winter, may be drained before new crankcase oil is added.

A good plan, and one that is recommended, is to remove the crankcase bottom cover or oil base in the spring before starting the engine for the new season, and scrubbing off all sediment which may have collected there.

When replacing the bottom cover, a new gasket should be used.


It is also recommended to use new spark plugs at the beginning of the next season, especially if the engine has given considerable service.

Refuel engine and follow starting instructions in your manual.