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Mason Steam engine sizes and specifications

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I am looking for information on the Mason steam engines, such as size and evolution of the different models.  What was the big brother to the Model "C" used for?  What is the bore and stroke of the different Mason Model's?  When did they cease production?  It appears that Mason steam engines are quite common but I am not able to scrounge up much information on the internet or on the various steam forums?

Thanks, Alan

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Hello Alan,

Mason was an early industrial steam machinery manufacturer in the Boston area.  When the Stanleys needed an engine for their car in the late 1890s they had Mason design one up.  However it weighed as much as they envisioned for the whole vehicle.  They then asked Penney in Mechanic Falls Maine to help them and he is credited with the design for the production steamers.  The photo I have seen of the Penney engine shows it to be very close in looks to a Mason but with no Stephenson link for reverse.   Old wives tales said that Penney made the first handful of engines but they were a small operation and Mason was right in their neighborhood.   

Not all Locomobile engines are Masons, not all Masons are Locomobile.  Maason made the Locomobile engines from 1899 to maybe midyear 1900.  My guess would be the first 1000-ish engines were Masons.  Masons have a brass lower frame.  In 1900, at roughly engine 1000-ish, Locomobile started making their engines and they have iron lower frames.   Mason wasn't bashful about selling engines.  If you were a steam manufacturer trying to copy Locomobile, Mason would be happy to sell you an engine.  While Locomobile in 1899/1900 was Mason's biggest engine buyer, when Locomobile left them, they concentrated on the 2nd place guys (Mobile?), the 3rd place guys and anybody else they could sell too. 

If a steam engine has an iron frame, it isn't Mason.  If the Mason engine has two holes on the front of the engine for pumps, it's not Locomobile.  Locomobiles only ever came with one pump bracket.  If the Mason engine has two double crosshead slides, it isn't Locomobile as it's a newer change.  I've never seen a duplicate to prove it but I suspect Mason numbered their engines for manufacturers and not for themselves.  I believe you might find say a no. 500 in a Locomobile engine, a Mobile engine, a "mom and pop" car company engine and ??.  I also think that there are Mason engines, newer built say with double crosshead that have low serial numbers and their owners will swear are Locomobile engines but I don't believe so.

The Model C Mason was a later upgrade to a beefier engine.  They were never used in Locomobiles but should drop right in as a replacement.  The bigger brother to the Model C is HEAVY and a hernia in the making.  There is a lot of brass in that lower frame.   I suspect that few of these engines were made as they were near the end of steam circa 1903/1904.  Not sure who actually used the larger engine but I suspect Grout used them in their larger models and they were one of the few manufacturers still trying to make a go of steam.

 

 http://www.virtualsteamcarmuseum.org/images/vscmimages/mason_regulator_company/websized/mason_regulator_company_1902_automobile_appliances.pdf

 

And last but not least, I must say that Penney, Mason and the Stanleys were Maine boys who had to move out of state to make a living.  Some things never change.

  

DSCN1740 - resized.JPG

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Posted (edited)

The guy did a very good thing putting all that together, but I would take some of the info on the virtual steam car museum with a grain of salt. Not his fault, that is how this research goes, lots of back and forth on it. They claimed that someone else designed the early Mason, that is not true, George Whitney designed that engine for Mason, he even has it in his 1896 patent application. In Whitneys handwritten letters he states that emphatically - "I designed that engine for them". Take note of the crosshead how it heels on one side only, that is a marine engine design feature, Whitney was a marine engine designer, Boston tech (MIT) grad mechanical engineer.

 

Lot's of bad info floating around the web. I was reading Wikipedia the other day, and it said the Locomobile steamer was unfavorable due to it's poor performance along with many other blatant inaccuracies. The Locomobiles and similar steamers were the fastest thing on four wheels. The early steamers were the first police and fire department vehicles. 

 

They also wrote in the wikipedia the Stanleys built a few hundred cars before selling to Locomobile, not according to my research, some of the old articles from the day said they built a few crude cars that were essentially copies of the Whitney Motorette, they were even sued over the same because the design belonged to Whitney. The Locomobile body style, the Stanley's had nothing to do with it. They sold their "automobile business", which was a few cars, parts for 200 and customer orders for 200 more.

 

Somewhere on that virtual steam website they have the Whitney Motorette labeled Whitney 1901. Way off.

 

Al, my understanding is they built the small Mason referred to as a model 70  2-1/2 X 3-1/2 Twin, a few years later in 1905, they came out with the Model C  2-3/4 X 3-1/2.  I say 1905 because the ads say write us for an owners manual, I have an original owners manual and it is dated 1905, not 1903 like that website claims. Again, not accurate. As I understand it, Mason built one larger vertical chain drive engine for delivery vehicles, a 3X4 twin. A buddy of mine has one and they are rare.

 

The 70 had only a water pump, The Mason C had a water and fuel pump.

 

look at the body design in the Whitney patent, then look at the early Stanley from 1898.

 

The above is how I understand it from the research I've done.

 

-Ron

1901 Locomobile-license2.jpg

lawsuit Stanley Whitney.jpg

Stanley-600x525.jpg

stanley_steam_car_1898_photo_1920_02_february_15_front.png

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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Hello Ron,

 

I was waiting for you.  I must compliment you, I always do learn something new.

 

My information on Penney comes from the The Stanley Steamer,  America's Legendary Steam Car, by Kit Foster.  Yes it is a Stanley Museum publication but it uses period literature, letters, trade journals and other information to back itself up.  And yes the museum does have a fair collection of original Stanley information.

 

I couple months ago I went to visit an early Locomobile in a private collection.   One of my compadres got a real kick out of an original Whitney letter they had from the early 1940s? written to the steamer's old owner where Whitney  describes finding the Stanleys underneath his car.   In the Stanley Steamer book it mentions that Whitney talks about having Duryea, Olds, Pope, Knox, and Ford over to visit him.  It also says that the Stanleys were frequent visitors in 1895 and 1896 and that Whitney gave them many pointers on the design and building of steam automobiles.  But then at the Charles River display in 1898, the Stanleys cranked up the steam pressure on their car and walked away from all the other vehicles there and I dare say, stole Whitney's thunder.   

 

  

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Enclosed are photos of an 1899 Locomobile engine that was made by Mason.  Locomobile is credited with building 350 cars in 1899 making them America's largest automobile producer.   Previous to this style of engine made for Locomobile, I doubt that Mason made more than a single experimental engine here or there, maybe even for Whitney   The serial number on this engine is 184 and it got away from me when I was trying to acquire it.  I have since seen several others and was told by a collector that the very first engines did not have serial numbers.  I can confirm that two I personally inspected did not have serial numbers that I could find and the same in another engine I inspected only through photographs.   This engine is easily identified by it's crankshaft main bearing caps.  They have a horizontal split when the engine is standing up.  This style of engine is used up til about engine number 200.  You will notice that the one pump bracket on the brass frame is broken off.  The early pump brackets were thinly made and susceptible to breaking.   There would be a lot of early automotive history to this engine if it could only talk.  I wouldn't hesitate to say that this engine is probably from one of the first 1000 cars built in America.  

SN184c resized.jpg

SN184f resized.jpg

SN184g resized.jpg

1899Stanley patent (2).jpg

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Posted (edited)

Hi Ben,

 

Thanks for the information. The Stanley patent application drawing is for features that they patented. They patented all of their changes and anything not covered in the Whitney patent.

 

The serial numbers on the early Mason engines are all low it seems. Have you seen any 4 digit numbers? I haven't. They must have started new numbers for each customer as you know, many early manufacturers used the engine numbers as vehicle identification numbers. As I understand it, the first Locomobiles had no serial number as well. Which makes sense, if Mason wasn't numbering engines, Locomobile had no number to use.

 

Yep, The Stanleys wire wound the boiler and cranked the pressure up to 250 psi from 150 psi of the Whitney and outperformed every one. The Kit Foster book was largely how the surviving Stanley remembered it (Correction, that was the Thomas Derr book of 1932, which Foster undoubtedly used as a resource). As they say, history is written by the victors. That book has many people believing things that aren't true. Stanley obviously had a bias against Whitney after unsuccessfully defending two patent suits brought by him and Locomobile. Many times when I'm out with my car at shows, people will remark "Oh that's a Stanley" I just nod or if I have time I explain it to them.

 

Anyways, it's an interesting puzzle to solve. I think it's important that Whitney is given the credit he deserves for his contributions to the early automobile, instead of it being buried and misrepresented in a few pages of a book written many years after the events took place. As I've written before, I feel the Whitney Motorette that survives in England is the most important historical vehicle there is for the US automotive industry. It is the car that really started the mass production of US automobiles.

 

The Stanley land speed car of 1906 and the land speed steamer of Louis Ross in 1903-1905.

 

 

image.png.e27560dbfa0b0f941bf57cd29a2eac0f.png

54.jpg

jan29.png

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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Hello Ben and Ron and other who are reading the above material.  Thanks for the posting and information posted in written form and also the pictures.  I studying the pictures I have a question on the first picture posted above.  It shows two engines, the smaller engine is a Locomobile per the description shared.  The larger engine must be a Model "C" Mason?  That is a nice comparison.  I had it in my mind that the two engines were were more the same size.  According to that picture, the Mason is more significantly larger.  How much more does the Mason "C" weigh than the Locomobile?

Al

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Posted (edited)

Second thoughts....

What is "more of the story" behind picture number 4?  Is that a picture of a Stanley?  And another question, How typical would it have been to see an early steam car with a Ofeldt design Water tube boiler in place of the more typical Fire tube design?  Yet another question, Does a water tube boiler require more extra hardware to run?

Al

Edited by alsfarms
addition for clarity (see edit history)
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Al, the Mason C is a much larger engine, I think the little 70 weighs around 50 pounds and the Mason C is close to a hundred pounds. The Mason C was a beefed up replacement engine. The little Mason had only 3/8" diameter brass piston rods. Very lightly built and limited to steam pressures below 150 psi.

 

The Ofeldt boiler didn't come out until around 1901. They built their own car under the same name and went on selling steam systems that were used to retrofit early steamers. The Ofeldts were brilliant steam engineers. After the steam car era was over, they marketed their system as a steam cleaner, needing a name for this new product, the advertising agent chose his daughter's name, "Jenny". And yes that is where the same Steam Jenny came from and that company is still in business as"Jenny Products".

 

Different control scheme between water tube and firetube? There is no difference other than the water tube needs automatic controls more due to the fact they require more frequent tending.

 

-Ron

 

 

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3 hours ago, alsfarms said:

What is "more of the story" behind picture number 4?

 

That is reportedly an early 1898 Stanley. These pictures have labels, but it is difficult to verify the accuracy of those labels. It looks about right though.

 

-Ron

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Does anyone have an idea what the size and weight of the Model "C" big brother (3 x 4) engine would be?  It was probably in league with the 20 hp Stanley.

Al

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A 3X4 twin is considered around 10 hp. Of course, horsepower ratings on steam engines are irrelevant other than suggested mechanical capability of operation, it depends how much steam is supplied and RPM it is ran at. My buddy has a small Strelinger coke bottle engine on a steam bike which is rated for 1/4 hp, he's pushing about 3-1/2 hp through it. 700 psi and 1400 RPM. Any steam engine not piped to a boiler is zero horsepower :)

 

A steam plant is all about the fire first, then the boiler, then the engine. A steam engine's only purpose is to turn the power of the boiler in to work. They are heat engines and it all starts with the fire.

 

-Ron

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Hello Ron,

That Strelinger engine must be a real race horse.  Thanks for the information of steam engine sizes.

Al

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The Virtual Steam Car Museum website says the Mason Model C was first advertised in October 1903.  That seems about right.  Most of the drawings I have are hard to read but some you can read the 1903 date.   Alan, you asked about the bigger Mason engine which I believe is the one shown in my first picture.  I would have to check it out again but when I got it I believed it was around a 10hp.  I got that engine close to the Grout factory with some smaller Grout parts.  I presumed that the engine might have been for a larger Grout as they made some with 10hp horizontally mounted engines.  Yes she's a beast to move around.  I believe Grout got their engine from Mason but they were also more customized for them then for other manufacturers.  The small Grout engine had their name cast into the steam chest cover and also into the bronze piston rods.

Mason C exhaust.jpg

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Posted (edited)

The owners manual is titled "The New Mason Model C" and it is dated Mar 15th 1905. The drawings would predate the actual release of the product. It really doesn't matter, I doubt there are very many people concerned about it :) Thanks for posting that, I've never seen any of the original drawings before.

 

Al, That Strelinger engine sounds like an old pressure cooker with the little rattling relief valve. That is exactly what it sounds like.

 

Ben, I'm reading in the back of this manual and it says Prescott used the Mason engine exclusively. These are testimonial letters in the 1905 manual, however they mention that they received the engines "last year" so that would have been 1904, it's definitely 1904, and that makes sense, they began advertising them in late 03 and shipped them in 04. Must be a second version of the manual.

 

Another Puzzle. Supposedly Stanley patented the fuel system with a fuel pump and a small reservoir in 1906 and the reason no one else was able to use it. But, in this 1905 manual they are talking about the Mason fuel system with a fuel pump, regulator and small accumulator, exactly what Stanley patented a year later. ?? So many questions :)

 

And unfortunately most of those questions will never be answered, so little info and the people that knew have passed on. It's fun to try to decipher it anyway.

 

-Ron

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Hello Ben or Ron,

I am now curious how the fuel system actually worked to provide fuel to the primer/burner.  Is the original design still the preferred method or has a better mouse trap been devised for fuel delivery and more commonly used today?

Al

Edited by alsfarms
addition for clarity (see edit history)

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You tube is certainly a good source for learning more about steam cars and the mechanics they use, but specific information is hard to show.

Al

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