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

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.