An Engine for Every Engineer

From 1878 through 1914, Gaar-Scott Offered an Impressive Array of Engines

| Fall 2005

  • Catalog
    The 1896 yearly catalog featured this beautiful colored illustration of a Class F engine on the cover. 
    Photo from the Reynolds Museum collection
  • Threshing
    A later Class E coal- and wood-burning engine threshing. 
  • Straw Burning
    A Class E straw-burning engine threshing – this was Gaar-Scott's first class of straw-burning engines, introduced sometime in the 1880s. 
  • Garr-Scott
    From Gaar-Scott's 1905 yearly catalog, the caption on this photo reads, “One of the first traction engines from our works, and still in good operating condition.” Gaar-Scott prided themselves on the longevity of their engines and made various references in their catalogs to engines that had been running for 20 to 30 years. This engine was horse-guided and used wooden wheels on the front and back. 
  • A Class G engine threshing
    A Class G engine threshing. 
  • Parts Catalog
    A Class H engine illustration from a 1912 parts catalog – notice the cylinder mounted towards the front of the boiler and water tank on the operator's platform – both departures from Gaar-Scott's standard features. 
  • A Class P, firebox-style return-flue engine at work on the belt.
    A Class P, firebox-style return-flue engine at work on the belt. 
  • Robert T. Rhode collection
    By the early 1880s, Gaar-Scott engines had this appearance with steel wheels, hand-steering and large balloon smokestack. Though Gaar-Scott engines were hand steered by this time, they still furnished as late as 1885 a tongue for horse steering if the operator desired. 
    Photo from the Robert T. Rhode collection
  • Boilers Table
    Boilers Table
  • A section view of Gaar-Scott's firebox-style return-flue boiler
    A section view of Gaar-Scott's firebox-style return-flue boiler. (Photo from the Robert Holp collection.) 
  • A section view of Gaar-Scott's Cornish return- flue engine used in Class E, K and L straw-burning engines
    A section view of Gaar-Scott's Cornish return- flue engine used in Class E, K and L straw-burning engines. (Photo from the Reynolds Museum collection.) 
  • Single Cylinder Coal and Wood Burning Engines
    Single Cylinder Coal and Wood Burning Engines
  • A Class S single-cylinder engine with standard gearing and threshing outfit ready to move to the next set
    A Class S single-cylinder engine with standard gearing and threshing outfit ready to move to the next set. 
  • An example of Gaar-Scott's Big 40 HP
    An example of Gaar-Scott's Big 40 HP (rated 33 HP in Canada) engine threshing in Alberta, Canada, in the teens. 
  • Genuine Straw Burning
    A genuine straw-burning engine. From the straw rack it is apparent what the engine's source of fuel was.
  •  colored postcard sent from Gaar-Scott advertising their new 25 HP double rear-mount engine
    A colored postcard sent from Gaar-Scott advertising their new 25 HP double rear-mount engine. They called this particular size and style a “Montana Special."
  • This beautiful color illustration of the Class DY engine with plowing gear features was on the inside back cover of the 1911 catalog.
    This beautiful color illustration of the Class DY engine with plowing gear features was on the inside back cover of the 1911 catalog. 
  • 1912 catalog cut of Class SR single-cylinder rear-mount 20 HP engine
    1912 catalog cut of Class SR single-cylinder rear-mount 20 HP engine. This is the last style of traction engine introduced by Gaar-Scott. 
  • 1911 Catalog cut of a Class S side gear engine with plowing attachments
    1911 Catalog cut of a Class S side gear engine with plowing attachments. 

  • Catalog
  • Threshing
  • Straw Burning
  • Garr-Scott
  • A Class G engine threshing
  • Parts Catalog
  • A Class P, firebox-style return-flue engine at work on the belt.
  • Robert T. Rhode collection
  • Boilers Table
  • A section view of Gaar-Scott's firebox-style return-flue boiler
  • A section view of Gaar-Scott's Cornish return- flue engine used in Class E, K and L straw-burning engines
  • Single Cylinder Coal and Wood Burning Engines
  • A Class S single-cylinder engine with standard gearing and threshing outfit ready to move to the next set
  • An example of Gaar-Scott's Big 40 HP
  • Genuine Straw Burning
  •  colored postcard sent from Gaar-Scott advertising their new 25 HP double rear-mount engine
  • This beautiful color illustration of the Class DY engine with plowing gear features was on the inside back cover of the 1911 catalog.
  • 1912 catalog cut of Class SR single-cylinder rear-mount 20 HP engine
  • 1911 Catalog cut of a Class S side gear engine with plowing attachments

During the early winter of 2005, my fiancée, Revonda, and I paid a visit to Joe Graziana's shop in Wood River, Ill. We came to drop off the governor from my 22 HP Gaar-Scott engine for Joe to repair and in the course of visiting with Joe, I asked if he had a Gaar-Scott parts book. I had been hankering for one for a while, as I figured it could help me in the search for parts for my engines. Joe actually had two of them and was kind enough to sell me one.

Upon opening the parts book and examining the vast number of different styles and sizes of engines offered by Gaar-Scott from 1887, I was absolutely amazed. I have a few of the company's yearly catalogs from the early 1900s, and I knew they built quite a few different engines. As the company stated in its 1912 yearly catalog, “You can not look at the many and varied types of engines shown in this catalog without being impressed by our success in supplying power for the widest range of service and to meet the special conditions of different agricultural regions.” The variety was even wider than I had previously known, and I felt compelled to research and write a summary of the different engines produced by Gaar-Scott from 1887 to the end of the company in 1914.

I began researching earlier engines built by Gaar-Scott by contacting other enthusiasts and museums, and came up with at least some information on Gaar-Scott's earlier traction engines. I later found and bought an older parts book, which listed parts for traction engines dating to 1878. I would like to encourage anyone with additional information on the older engines built by Gaar-Scott to provide this information for readers of Steam Traction.

Early Days

Sometime around 1878, Gaar-Scott began building traction engines, in addition to the company's portable engine and threshing machine production. By studying the patents issued to Gaar-Scott's design team of Horatio Land and Howard Campbell in the early to mid-1880s, one can see the evolution of the traction engines that followed.



On July 6, 1880, patent no. 229,715 was assigned to a spiral steering roll, which helped take slack out of the steering chains. On Feb. 28, 1882, patent no. 254,223 was granted for a continuous rear axle, which wrapped around the underside of the firebox. On May 2, 1882, patent no. 257,444 was assigned for Land and Campbell's design of a water tank with braces that mounted to the sides of the smokebox and that attached to the top of the steam dome. On May 12, 1885, patent no. 317,722 was issued for a spring-mounted platform, which helped take the jarring and shaking out of the operator's platform. In addition to the patents issued to Land and Campbell, in 1881, Gaar-Scott obtained re-issue no. 9,819 of an earlier patent (no. 144,467, issued in 1873), assigned to one Nathan M. Mendenhall, for a strange steering system that employed a system of locking differentials and a tiller-type steering wheel. Unless Gaar-Scott intended to use part of the details of the differential, it is unclear which features of this patent they felt were pertinent to the firm's engine design.

By 1885, Gaar-Scott was building engines in sizes including 8, 10, 12 and 15 HP. Gaar-Scott's 1885 catalog referred to “The Great Atlanta Test Trial of Engines” of December 1881, where apparently the company's traction engine made quite a showing by towing an 11-ton load through several different tests. Within a few years, Gaar-Scott added a friction clutch, which landed Gaar-Scott and several other engine builders in a long, drawn-out court battle. (For more information on the lawsuit, see Robert T. Rhode's “The Mystery of the Lehmer Model,” Iron-Men Album, November/December 2002, “Lehmer Update,” Steam Traction, March/April 2003 and “Update on Isaac Lehmer,” Steam Traction, May/June 2003.) Though a few details, such as the axles under the firebox, were later dropped, in place were most features that for many years characterized Gaar-Scott's first style of engines.



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