Undermounted Engines


| September/October 1969



810 So. 14th St.,Burlington, Iowa 52601

As I have been trying to find out who came out first with the undermounted engine, Star or Avery, I sent for a copy of the book 'Cornelius Aultman' by Lorin E. Bixler. But unfortunately, it does not throw any light on the subject. Perhaps the Stebritz's of Algonia, Iowa can.

Mr. Bixler says the last Star engines were built in 1905. L. C. Mazilly of Starks, Louisiana claims that Avery bought the patent rights from the Aultman Company to build undermounted engines.

Now, as I was at the State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa the fall of 1906; there was a 16 H.P. undermounted Star engine there along with a top mounted Star and the American Separator. The double cylinder Huber was with one cylinder vertical, the other horizontal. I saw my first Hart-Parr tractor there along with a Hart-Parr portable. The Hart-Parr smoked at times more than the steam engines, but the agent (well, it could have been Hart himself or Parr, I don't know) said the operator didn't have it adjusted right. The steam engineers were quite show-offs. They would take off the governor belts and see how fast they could go. I have seen this at some of the shows today, of course I don't like it, for safety's sake. These were new engines at the fair. Somehow the return flue Avery would throw the most cinders; we would all take cover when he raced around. I will say that the 13 H.P. Reeves and the undermounted Star were the smoothest running engines there with their governor belts off.

I also saw my first airplane there. History says it appeared in 1910, but I saw it in 1906 and it could fly; it looked like a big cigar in the air. I was told by some old engineers that when Case set up their incline they invited other engines to climb it. The undermounted Star, the Reeves, and the double cylinder climbed it with ease. Now don't think the Huber would turn over backwards as the rear axle is far back on the boiler like a rear mounted engine. With the front tank full of water they will climb steep creek banks that a lot of other engines can't. I had two of them and I know what they will do. Well, it does take longer to fire up a Huber with cold water.

Back to the undermounted again. We do know that J. B. of Avery stopped Stevens from building undermounted engines. I don't think this did him any good to have the only undermounted engine since competition could have sold more engines for him. All good things are copied which would have given him better advertising. My favorite engines are the double cylinder Reeves and the Avery undermounted. I will say that the engineer does make a difference in the amount of coal burned by any engine. Once I replaced a Huber with a Reeves in the middle of my run and there was no complaining about the coal burned. I don't believe any farmer ever noticed the difference and the Huber is a very economical engine. I had a run once beside a Twenty-Two undermounted Star pulling a 32 x 54 Avery and the farmers sure complained about the coal they burned, but they never hired an engineer; just got some cheap John to run the engine.