| May/June 1968

Bismarck, Mo 63624

The Robinson Traction Engine, once numbered with the 'well knowns' seems to be now almost forgotten. A few words of history might be of interest, especially to the Old Timers.

The Robinson Company, which manufactured portable and traction engines as well as threshers, saw mills and hay bailers, was located at Richmond, Indiana. The firm was founded in 1843 by Francis W. Robinson. For many years only portable engines were manufactured but with the growing popularity of the traction engine, the company entered this field also.

The plant, located in Richmond, was only a short distance from the plant of the Gaar-Scott company, and we are advised that Mr. Robinson and Mr. Gaar were closely related, (some say they were Brothers-in-Law). There are many points of similarity to be noted in the two engines, indicating that plans and patterns might have been exchanged.

The Robinson Company made their boilers strictly by hand. The wet bottom principle was used; all engines were equipped with 2 inch flues. Crown Sheets were arched instead of flat. Water glass was placed so that when the water was barely over the crown sheet, it showed in the bottom of the glass. Engines were constructed with the cylinder toward the rear of the boiler with the fly-wheel well to the front. An extra long connecting rod was used. A crosshead pump, as well as an injector was standard equipment.

One unusual feature was the method of mounting the drive wheels. A solid axle was used that was curved to pass completely under the bottom of the boiler, and the boiler was mounted on springs. Another unusual feature of the Robinson was that the clutch consisted of a wood rim mounted inside the flywheel on the boiler side; pulling on the clutch lever forced steel shoes into the wood rim.