Looking for Clues on Unidentified Sideshaft

Unidentified sideshaft engine may be a Belifuss used as a replacement engine in 1901 Oldsmobiles

| May 2000

The subject of this month's vintage iron comes from a collector who purchased an unidentified engine at the Verl Eddy auction in western Kansas last fall. The engine is a tank-cooled sideshaft single cylinder. It is spark plug fired with an automatic intake and a mechanical exhaust valve system. The engine also has a brass connecting rod. 

After looking through the Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, I found a Beilfuss motor built in Lansing, Mich., that is a close match to the unidentified engine. The Beilfuss was built primarily for automotive applications, and was rated at 8 hp.

The frame and clutch that are attached to the engine have been identified as that of a 1901 Oldsmobile. We are wondering if this is a replacement motor for that car. The Beilfuss was patented in 1902 and 1903. The single cylinder was built from 1904 to 1907, when a larger two-cylinder engine became available. The engine has a very heavy flywheel, and the clutch is set up to drive a chain sprocket. The engine has a 5-1/4-inch bore. No name or serial number has been found on the engine.

Anyone with any information can contact me at (785) 889-4667. Sideshaft engines of any make are neat additions to a gas engine collection. When I first started out, a collector was judged by how many sideshafts he had. Larger collectors always had a number of sideshaft engines, the result of years and years of collecting. Lots of collectors have vast collections, but never find – or get the chance to own – a sideshaft. The spring swap meets are starting as I finish this column. Time to hit the road and look for more sideshafts. FC 

Wayne Walker has been a collector of vintage iron for 26 years. 


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