Frick Catalog Cuts

Portable Steam Engines and Sawmills Continued as Mainstays of the Frick Co. in the Late 1930s

| November/December 2003

  • Portable steam engine

  • Portable steam engine

  • Equipped with Three Head-blocks

  • Portable steam engine
  • Portable steam engine
  • Equipped with Three Head-blocks

When George Frick established the Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa., in 1853, it's hard to believe he could have predicted the company's longevity. To wit: this year witnesses the 150th anniversary of Frick, which continues today as a major manufacturer of refrigeration equipment.

Starting with the manufacture of horsepowers, grain cleaners and related farm equipment, Frick moved into the production of sawmills, steam engines and refrigeration equipment. Frick circular sawmills were introduced around 1875, the first Frick traction engine was built in 1877 and Frick refrigeration equipment was introduced in 1882.

Some 4,500 steam traction engines were built before production ended in 1936, and an estimated 13,000 portable steam engines rolled out of the Frick factory before production ended in 1938. Figures on Frick sawmill production are unknown, but it's safe to assume many thousands of the company's numerous models were built between the 1870s and the end of sawmill production in the early 1970s.


It's a safe bet that the portable steam engines shown here represent the final offerings of Frick Co., coming as they do from a circa 1938 Frick Co. catalog. There's no date on the catalog, but the last page provides a clue by way of a small picture of a 'Frick M-M Vision Lined Tractor.' The pictured tractor is clearly a Minneapolis-Moline UTS, a model introduced in 1938. Frick started distributing Minneapolis-Moline tractors in 1929.

The real gem is on the following pages; a separate, special two-page insert for Frick's No. 0 sawmill, complete with full specifications. Original material like this is increasingly rare and increasingly important if we're to accurately chronicle the life and offerings of the old manufacturers. Enjoy.

Frick return-flue portable steam engine, circa 1938. Center-crank engines of 50 HP and 65 HP were offered, with boilers featuring 150 psi working pressure. These were especially intended for sawmill work.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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