This full-size Root & Vandervoort 2 HP hit n’ miss engine was restored by Bill Fowler, and donated to the museum by Les Cade. The engine can run at 450 rpm, and the serial number is BL1337. Built in about 1906, this engine is typical of the farm workhorse engines used in the early part of the 20th century. It is a full-size engine, not a model. The tag notes it was manufactured for the W.M. Gregory company in Los Angeles by Root & Vandervoort Engineering Co. of East Moline, Illinois. Electrical power for the ignition comes from a battery in a separate wooden box, and a wheeled stand was made for it to make it easy to move around.

Hit n’ miss engines are so named because they do not necessarily fire on every stroke. A regulator usually uses centrifugal force to determine speed of the flywheel. Once it is spinning at greater than a given speed, the spark is cut off, causing the flywheel to slow down. Once it slows enough, the spark is restored, causing another ignition. When a load is put on the engine, it fires more often until, with enough load, it is firing on every stroke.

These engines would typically use a belt drive to turn a pump. At only 2 HP, this engine is quite small for the type. It is started by turning the large flywheel by means of a handle that folds out from the side of one of the flywheels. Read more about Bill Fowler.

Exhibit added: March 2, 2011 - Last modified: March 17, 2023

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship