Gaar, Scott and Co.

A short history of Gaar, Scott and Co., the venerated manufacturer of the 'Tiger Line' of steam traction engines and threshers.

| March 2005

  • Gaar Scott, 13hp traction engine facing right
    The other side of John R. Gresh’s 1909 13 HP Gaar-Scott.
    Jack C. Norbeck
  • Gaar Scott, 13hp traction engine facing left
    John R. Gresh’s 1909 13 HP Gaar-Scott, serial no. 14368. A popular unit in the Gaar-Scott line, the 13 HP was equipped with a single-cylinder simple engine. John acquired this engine in 2004, after its restoration in the hands of Tom Woodard. The engine is at John’s farm near Girard, Pa., just a few miles from Lake Erie.
    Photo: Jack C. Norbeck
  • Gaar Scott 1909 advertisement
    his advertisement touting the superiority of the Gaar-Scott line of threshers and engines appeared in the August 1909 issue of The American Thresherman. Gaar-Scott had already established a solid reputation for its threshing machines prior to the introduction of a line of steam traction engines about 1884.
    Dusty Erickson
  • 1913 Gaar Scott 25-75 traction engine
    Gil Roberts and his 1913 25-75 HP Gaar-Scott, serial no. 15899. Gil, who lives in Somerset, Va., runs this engine every year at the Somerset Steam and Gas Engine Assn.’s Annual Steam and Gas Pasture Party.
    Jack C. Norbeck
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine - flywheel side
    Flywheel side of Bill Roberts’ 10 HP Gaar-Scott. A single-cylinder simple, this little side crank engine is big in working power.
    Jack C. Norbeck
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine - head on
    Head on view of Bill Roberts’ 10 HP Gaar-Scott.
    Jack C. Norbeck
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine
    Bill Roberts, Somerset, Va., and his 10 HP 1884 Gaar-Scott. Bill, who calls this his “working engine,” displays the Gaar-Scott every year at the Somerset Steam and Gas Engine Assn.’s Annual Steam and Gas Pasture Party.
    Jack C. Norbeck

  • Gaar Scott, 13hp traction engine facing right
  • Gaar Scott, 13hp traction engine facing left
  • Gaar Scott 1909 advertisement
  • 1913 Gaar Scott 25-75 traction engine
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine - flywheel side
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine - head on
  • 1884 Gaar Scott 10hp traction engine

Abram Gaar was born on his family's farm in Wayne County near Richmond, Ind., on Nov. 14, 1819. In his early years, he worked as a pattern maker, a cabinet maker, and a millwright, but in the late 1830s and early 1840s he attached himself to academic pursuits.

During this same period, Abram's father, Jonas, helped establish Wayne County's first steam-powered venture, a foundry and machine shop. About 1842, Abram returned to his mechanical inclination when he gained employment at the machine works known as the Spring Foundry owned by Jesse M. and John H. Hutton.

In 1849, Abram, along with his father, his brother, John Milton Gaar, and his brother-in-law, William G. Scott, purchased the Spring Foundry, which was then reorganized under the name of A. Gaar & Co. John Milton Gaar was born in Richmond in 1823, and worked in the Spring Foundry as early as 1842, when that concern was engaged in building the old "chaff pilers" or "ground-hog" threshers.

A. Gaar & Co. moved into the manufacture of various agricultural implements, threshers, and portable steam engines, and in 1870, A. Gaar & Co. incorporated as Gaar, Scott & Co. Abram, who was active in the company until his death in 1894, was succeeded by his brother, John Milton Gaar, who had grown up with the threshing machine business and had developed the plant as the industry developed. William C. Scott was a Virginian whose parents had moved to Richmond in 1827. Scott was the businessman of the firm, and John M. Gaar devoted his time to the mechanical end.



Gaar, Scott & Co. Engines

Gaar, Scott & Co. began manufacturing portable steam engines in the mid-1850s, with steam traction engines joining the line about 1884. Gaar-Scott made steam engines with simple and compound cylinders.

The compound engine's two cylinders were directly and strongly attached to each other by a projection on the small cylinder and a counter bore on the large cylinder, with no open space between them. This ensured the cylinders were in perfect alignment, and in this position they were bolted rigidly together. If for any reason access was desired to the inside of the cylinders, the small cylinder could be easily removed and then replaced in its original position, and it would again be in perfect alignment with the large cylinder, with the connection as firm as if both cylinders were cast together.