Picture Perfect: Moore Engine

An Iowa engine collector falls for a Moore engine at first sight.

| September 2016

  • Travis Benner with his rare 4 hp Moore engine. The line also included 2-1/2 hp and 7 hp engines.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The original flywheel for the 4 hp Moore had a wood-faced pulley, so Travis made this one to round out the engine’s original appearance.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The original flywheel for the 4 hp Moore had a wood-faced pulley, so Travis made this one to round out the engine’s original appearance.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The early-style cast iron water pump, driven by an eccentric from the crankshaft, is shown here. Subsequent use of a brass pump helped Travis date his engine’s manufacture prior to 1909.
    Photo by Travis Benner
  • The most unique feature on this 4 hp Moore engine is a wire mesh cooling tower on top of the hopper. Most gas engines have either a screen for cooling or a hopper; the Moore has both.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A bell-shaped muffler is another unusual feature of this engine. The 4 hp Moore has 4- by 8-inch bore and stroke, spark plug ignition and hit-and-miss governing.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • A rear view of Travis’ 4 hp Moore engine.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Moore after the cooling tower was finished, but before it had been mounted on a cart.
    Photo courtesy Travis Benner

Just one look, and Travis Benner was hooked. After seeing an illustration of a Moore engine – the Sure Cool – in C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, the Blue Grass, Iowa, engine enthusiast knew he wanted one for his collection.

“I saw this odd engine that was hopper-cooled with a screen cooling tower on top of it, with an eccentric-driven pump that pumps the water up to the screen cooler. That intrigued me,” he recalls. “I wanted to look into that."

Manufactured by Moore Plow & Implement Co., Greenville, Michigan, the Sure Cool may have been Moore’s way of differentiating the engine in the marketplace. “The manufacturer probably hoped it would be unique enough to help them grab their share of the engine market,” Travis says. “When buyers saw it, they probably thought any potential heating problem was automatically solved. The engine would stay cool and wouldn’t overheat when run hard. That new cooling feature could be enough to catch the eye of a comparison shopper, who might think it represented a real leap in technology."

Unusual cooling system

The most unusual feature of the Sure Cool Moore engine is its cooling tower, which sits on top of the hopper. A pump on the side of the hopper pushes water up a pipe to the top of the cooling tower, where it dribbles down the screen and falls back into the water hopper. Water circulated over the vertical screen helps increase heat exchange. “



Moving water that cascades down is cooled faster than if it’s just in a tank,” Travis says. “Root & VanDervoort, Famous and O.S. Kelly also used a screen cooling system with some of their engines, but none of them had a screen cooling system sitting on top of a water hopper.”

Travis hasn’t seen any Moore engines at shows, but he has run across a few photos and illustrations. “I thought they were all hopper-cooled with the screen tower at first,” he says, “but then I saw a few that were tank-cooled.”