2000 Featured Engine
This is a two horsepower headless. This engine now belongs to Dave Rotigel of Greenburg, PA. You can see some more of Dave's engines HERE
. The picture was submitted by Les Bergquist of Granite Falls, MN.
This is an eight horsepower headless that belongs to Tony Leonard in Rockwell, NC. You can see Tony's web site HERE
Most of the magneto fired headless Witte engines (like Tony's) that were produced between 1915 and 1919 came with the rare Webster high tension magneto. There are many engine collectors who don't know that Webster even made a high tension magneto. This design was very poor and most failed within the first year and were replaced by battery and coil ignition. The fact that Tony's engine has an original working magneto is somewhat incredible!
For the 2000 show, at Orange, the club displayed the Ray Chapdelaine collection of "headless" Witte engines. The collection was shown here many times before Ray passed away and it is still in the possession of his family.
The Ray Chapdelaine Collection
Ray Chapdelaine began to accumulate his collection of Headless Witte engines between 1975 and 1977.
With help from the mechanics at his family-owned GMC dealership, the collection, as you see it, was completed by 1979. Ray's favorite shows were the ones at Dublin, New Hampshire; Pepperell, Massachusetts; and of course, the CMSGMA at Orange, MA. The whole family would participate, especially in the parades, wearing t-shirts that said "GMC, Witte, John Deere"
In the past, the engines were displayed along with four 2-1/2 ton GMC trucks from the years 1939/1941, and some John Deere two-cylinder tractors. The matching wagons under the engines were homemade from old steel wheels that had been cut off and had new rims welded to them.
Unfortunately Ray passed away in 1988. The collection is still owned by the Chapdelaine family: Mark, Mike, Lisa, and their mother, Terry. It is through the efforts of Lisa's husband, Dan Grenier, that the collection has reappeared after twelve years in storage. Dan is a long-time member of the board of directors of CMSGMA; and, with the help of some of the other members who have trailers, the collection was taken out of storage in Lunenburg, cleaned up, and brought to Orange.
The Headless Witte Engine
For the first time since 1987, the Ray Chapdelaine collection of Headless Witte engines
has once again been on display!!
The HIGHLIGHT of this year's show was when Dan hooked all of the Headless Witte engines together in a long train and towed them around the grounds in our tractor parade on Sunday, June 25th. It was a nostalgic moment for all of those who knew Ray, and a real THRILL for those of us who had never seen the "train" or had only seen it in PICTURES!!
The 22 hp.
The 16 hp.
The 12 hp.
The 8 hp.
The 6 hp.
The 4 hp.
The 3 hp.
The 2 hp.
A little bit about the history of the
August Witte, organized Witte Iron Works at Kansas City in 1870. His son, Ed Witte served his apprenticeship in the foundry as a brass moulder, iron moulder, machinist, metallurgist, and finally as a steam engine designer. By the time August Witte retired in 1886, Ed Witte had already built a crude but workable gas engine using hot tube ignition. Company records indicate however, that actual production of the Witte standard and Star engines did not begin until August, 1894. Witte standard and Star engine styles were built until November, 1914. A 1900 catalog indicates that these impressive sideshaft engines were available in 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 horsepower sizes for stationary use. Portables could be supplied in any size up to and including 25 horsepower.
1911 Witte embarked on an entirely new engine line. The model of simplicity, these engines were the first Witte models to carry the walking beam valve mechanism that characterized the entire Witte line until November, 1923.
Witte's Junior engine series (now affectionately known as the "headless Witte") included the cylinder and base in a single casting. Likewise the cylinder head was integral, eliminating problems from leaky gaskets and lowering production costs. Both valves were located in a single casting that was easily removed from the cylinder for occasional repairs. Witte portables for 1916 were also available in 6, 8, 12, 16, and 22 horsepower sizes.
Witte's 1916 catalog attempted to allay the fears of prospective customers by noting that anyone could be his own mechanic, just by reading the Witte instruction manual. To illustrate the point, a catalog illustration depicts the method of checking ignition timing. By using any available straight edge, it was quite simple to line up the fly-wheel mark with the top of the water hopper. Precisely at this time, ignition was to occur, and by removing the spark plug and laying it on top of the engine, anyone could easily determine whether the ignition timing was properly adjusted. Similar explanations were included for valve and carburetor adjustments. As a mailorder merchant, Ed Witte had few equals. His catalogs rank among some of the most colorful and explicit in the entire engine industry. Sumptuous three-color illustrations of the engines certainly were a boost to sales, and the technical data was written in the language of the farmer.
This information is from: "American Gasoline Engines Since 1872", by C. H. Wendel, pp 557-560.