20TH CENTURY

Manufacturing Company Inc. BOYNTON, PENNSYLVANIA U.S.A.


| May/June 1999



20th Century 16 HP

Jack C. Norbeck

Norbeck Research 117 N. Ruch Street, #8 Coplay, Pennsylvania 18037

The 20th Century engine shown on this month's cover, a 16 HP, is owned by Michael J. Miller of Rock-wood, Pennsylvania. I took the photograph during the Farmers' and Threshermen's Jubilee in New Centerville, Pennsylvania. The following article will tell you a little more about the 20th Century, both in general and about this engine specifically.

First, information about the company, taken from my book, Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines:

The 20th Century steam traction engines were designed and built by a Mennonite minister, the Rev. Miller of Boynton, Pennsylvania. The company was first called the Improved Traction Engine Company, formerly of Elk Lick, Pennsylvania. The name was later changed to the 20th Century Manufacturing Company. Rev. Miller's engines were known as the 20th Century. The company built one of the strongest, most economical, most durable, best designed and constructed double-cylinder engines on the market, so they said. The double-cylinder steam traction engine had all the advantages over a single-cylinder traction engine that a double-cylinder railroad locomotive had over a single-cylinder railroad locomotive. The double-cylinder engine had no dead center, and would start when the throttle was opened. Not so with the single-cylinder engine. The company said that its engines were simple and did not require any more care than a single-cylinder engine.

All of the steam traction engines and rollers were built with steel gearing throughout. Steel gearing, it was claimed, would wear five times as long as cast iron. The engines used the Miller patented boilers. The frame on which the engine and all machinery was mounted was of steel 'I' beams.

20th Century 16 HP built in 1911. Owned by Michael J. Miller of Rockwood, Pennsylvania, and seen here at the Farmers' and Threshermen's Jubilee, New Centerville, Pa. Photo by Jack C. Norbeck, Norbeck Research, Co-play, PA 18037-1712.