Dake square piston engine

Content Tools

Rte 2, Sumner, Iowa 50674

Seeing Mr. Fred Fox's paragraph 'Regarding My Roller,' in his R & T show report in the January/February issue prompted me to write a short article about the Dake square piston engine.

My first acquaintance with the square piston engine was through the Smolik brothers and their 40 HP Reeves compound engine. The big Reeves uses a Dake engine as the power steering device. As engineer of the engine I took it upon myself last fall to remove the Dake and restore it back to operating condition. (Prior to that time the Reeves was guided by hand.) The engine was pictured on the cover of the September/October 1979 IMA.

Basically, all that was required was a good cleaning to remove the surface rust that had accumulated on the internal parts and to resurface the controlling valve. Upon assembly and after hooking to live steam it ran smoothly and noiselessly with no dead centers, and reversing instantly upon changing the position of the control lever.

The engine steeers the Reeves well at any pressure over 100 p.s.i. which says a lot for the power of it, as the Reeves weighs 27 tons. I would guess the little Dake to be 11/2 or 2 HP, with a 1/2 inch steam inlet and 3/4 inch exhaust. It weighs approximately 100 pounds.

The Dake engine pictured is a 31/2 HP size which I purchased last summer at the Owls Head consignment auction at Owls Head, Maine. The first picture shows the 'square piston' in place, and the internal surface of the cover with parts exposed. (Proper clearance at this point is critical as this determines the end clearance of the piston itself. Therefore attention must be paid to the thickness of the gasket used.

The center photograph shows the opposite side of the engine with crank shaft and cover. And the bottom snap shot shows the engine assembled.

We would enjoy hearing from anyone who has had experience with one of these engines as we believe they are quite rare. By the way, they were manufactured by the Dake Engine Company of Grand Haven, Michigan.