Western Engine Company
Model 1900 and 1905 Engines

Western Model 1900 Ratchet Type Stationary Engine.

(Photograph courtesy of Greg Johnson.)

Western Model 1900 Ratchet Style Stationary Engine. The model 1900 was the first type of stationary engine manufactured by the Western Iron Works Company, later to become the Western Engine Company. The engine was offered in various horsepower sizes, and it was an odd 4-cycle distillate, naphtha, or gasoline fueled engine that could run in either direction, depending upon how the engine was started. There was a single eccentric cam on the crankshaft, with a cam-follower attached connecting rod that interacted with the ratchet mechanism, which in turn operated and controlled the timing of the exhaust valve and the mechanical ignitor. The engine had an automatic intake valve that needed no mechanical linkages for operation. This is the type of Western engine once located on the Hathaway Ranch. The Model 1900 was obsolete by 1904, when it was superseded by an intermediate geared engine design that was itself quickly evolved into the more ruggedly dependable geared Model 1905. No ratchet type Western engines are known to have survived.

Western Model 1905 Geared Stationary Engine.

(Western Engine Company Catalogue Illustration.)

Western Model 1905 Geared Style Stationary Engine. It was a 4-cycle hit-and-miss engine with a timing gear that, in turn, operated the exhaust valve, and that disengaged the mechanical inlet valve when the engine reached its set maximum speed, This model proved itself so durable and trouble free that it became the foundational design basis for all hit-and-miss type Western engines (from 5 to 100 HP) built from 1905 up through the company's final days. It is this design that my grandfather, Jesse E. Hathaway, helped to bring about. Many early Western engines based upon this geared design survive to this day, mainly in the hands of enthusiastic antique engine collectors.

Western Iron Works/Western Engine Company factory circa 1905.

(Western Engine Company Catalogue Illustration.)

The Western Iron Works Company factory, circa 1905. The office was located at 908 North Main Street, with the "works" sprawled over several nearby locations: 910 to 932 North Main Street; 910 to 916 Alhambra Avenue, and 91w1 to 925 Chevez Street, Los Angeles, California. This old industrial area was located to the east of the current downtown center of Los Angeles. Main Street is in the foreground, and Alhambra Avenue is to the rear of the factory complex, with Alhambra Avenue terminating into Main street not far from and to the right of the factory buildings.