Farm Collector

Freeze-Proof Unit Engine

The engine in this month’s Vintage Iron is owned by Dale Wetzel, Offerle, Kan. I photographed his engine at a local show he attended with this engine as part of his display.

The engine has been in his family since it was new. His granddad ordered it in August or September 1922 to use on a pump jack to pump water for their cattle operation. The order was made from an ad in their local newspaper; a 30-day free trial period was offered as part of the deal. But the shipping – rail freight — cost almost as much as the engine.

He wanted an engine that was freeze-proof, and settled on this air-cooled model. It was used for just two years, and then sat in a shed until Dale restored it in 1981. It is a Unit Motor, built by the Unit Motor Co., Kansas City, Mo. The one-cylinder model (series B, 2 hp, motor no. 112) was patented in the U.S. on July 18, 1922 and in Canada on Dec. 19, 1922.

It has a Bosch direct drive magneto, Kingston updraft carburetor, flywheel driven cooling fan, and dual stack mufflers. The engine is a two-cycle, and runs very well. A copy of the company’s newspaper ad reads:

New Engine: Free to Try for 30 Days. Let this amazing new air-cooled 2 hp UNIT farm motor do your work. Saves time, labor and money. Weighs 40 percent less than others. Easy to carry from place to place under your arm.
Can’t freeze. Bums gasoline or kerosene. Nothing to get out of order. Comes ready to run. Backed by strongest guarantee ever made. Every farmer should have one. Write today: Big catalog of UNIT motors, 2 hp to 30 hp – Free Trial Offer – Easy pay-as-you-please, low-direct-to-you factory prices. UNIT MOTOR CO. 130 Unit Bldg. Kansas City, Mo.

That is the only advertising Dale has found for the Unit. The ad makes mention of a catalog, but neither of us have found anyone who has one. It is only listed under the index of manufacturers in C.H. Wendel’s book, American Gasoline Engines. Dale doesn’t know of any other Unit motors, and hasn’t had much luck finding information about the company. If any of you have any information on Unit engines and/or literature, and would like to share it, contact Dale Wetzel, RR 1, Box 33, Offerle, Kan., 67563.

The last word: In September’s “Vintage Iron”, we were looking for information on an old tractor rear end found on a farm in southeast Kansas. Gary Oechsner, Fond du Lac, Wis., called to identify the parts as coming from a National-GO tractor. He said that photographs of the parts matched illustrations in a company catalog he has. Thanks for the help, Gary! FC

  • Published on Nov 1, 1998
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