Mystery Inverted Engine

Thiem & Co. inverted engine offers many questions and no answers

The mystery engine

The mystery engine

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This month's Vintage Iron photographs come from Roger Moe, Springfield, Minn. I met Roger at the Central Hawkeye Swap Meet last May at Waukee, Iowa. I had a block of an inverted Webster engine on my trailer. Roger stopped by and said he had an inverted engine that he hadn't been able to get much information on. 

The name cast on the base of his engine is Thiem & Co., St. Paul, Minn. It has a 4-1/2-inch bore and a 7-inch stroke. The crankshaft is 1-5/8 inches in diameter, and the cam shaft is 1-1/4 inches. The exhaust valve has a 5/8-inch stem and a 1-3/4-inch head. The flywheels are 28 inches in diameter, but are not the originals. He is missing the intake valve cage, valve and carburetor, which bolted on four studs opposite the engine. It looks to have been a hit-and-miss governed engine, although most of the governor parts are missing except for the latch catch on the exhaust valve cam follower. The number "2" is cast on the block. It is drilled for some kind of crankshaft shield, which is also missing. Roger did a search at libraries in St. Paul, and came up with the following listings:

1890: Edward Thiem, boilermaker for Kenny Bros.

1892: Edward Thiem, machinist for St. Paul Roofing & Cornice Works

1897: Edward A. Thiem, proprietor of Northwestern Machine & Cycle Works

1897: Thiem & Co. (bicycle specialties)

1902: Thiem & Co.

1905: Thiem Mfg. Co. (bicycle specialties)

1910-13: Edward Thiem, secretary/treasurer of Joeons – Thiem Motor Co. (retired in 1917)

1916: Edward A. Thiem (manufacturer of metal specialties)

1920-28: Metal Products Manufacturing Company (121 5th Ave. So. Mpls.)

1928-30: Thiem Manufacturing Company (129 5th Ave. So Mpls.)

We were unable to locate any information on this company in our files. We checked in the book American Gas Engines Since 1872 and Thiem is listed only in the index of manufacturers.

Roger's engine has some castings very similar in style to those on Gene DeCamp's inverted engine (featured as the Restoration of the Month in this issue). The base, block and valve cages are very similar, and both engines may be the work of the same designer, pattern maker or foundry. If anyone has any information on this engine or related collectibles, please contact Roger (Roger Moe, 36911 200th St., Springfield, MN 56087-4000), or me at Farm Collector.

Inverted engines of any make are quite rare and are a treasured part of an engine collector's collection. Most were built around the turn of the century, when gas engines were in the beginning stages of development. A collector can hunt a whole lifetime and not get a chance to own one. Good hunting: the spring swap meet season is just around the corner. FC 

A collector for 26 years, Wayne Walker Jr. is the marketing director and a columnist for Farm Collector.