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A Buckeye Manufacturing Timeframe

Sooty Jim

Have been researching Buckeyes intensely for the upcoming story on the Schuller/Nahrwold 125hp unit as seen at the Maumee Valley annual meet in New Haven, Indiana. I went to the Allen Country Historical Society in Lima, Ohio, and while they didn't have all that much, I turned up some interesting tidbits. I found more in several period industry publications, including Diesel Progress, Who's Who in Engineering, Power, etc., as well as newspapers, biographies and so on. So, I put together this Buckeye timeline chart for my fellow sootheads here at Smokstak based on the info I found. The copyright notice is there in the hopes it will deter some outsider from stealing it word for word and claiming it as his own. Facts cannot be copyrighted, no matter how hard they were to dig up, but the way words are put together can be. Forlorn internet hope? Probably, but I wanted to post it here for the group to use. Additions welcome.

Buckeye Machine Company © 2018 Jim Allen

1899-1900: Origins of firm start on East Elm Street, Lima, Ohio, as a sales and service branch of the Bessemer Gas Engine Company, of Grove City, Pennsylvania, which had just started business. Some period sources say the Lima outlet started in 1899, the same year that the PA part started, and others say 1900. The 1900 date seems most likely.

1903: A Bessemer manufacturing facility was built on East Wayne Street, Lima, Ohio and the investment in machine tools and property was significant, about $30,000 (equivalent to about $830,000 2018 dollars). A history of Allen County, Ohio, implies engines were built there, as well as one of Bessemer’s trademarks… the conversion of steam engines to internal combustion… plus building the famous Bessemer oil well pump.

1909: Edward Neiswonder, the Manager of the Lima Bessemer plant for two years previous, along with his father Adam Neiswonder, purchase the facility, renaming it the Buckeye Machine Company. Buckeye continued selling and servicing Bessemer engines but began the process of designing and building their own line of gas and gasoline engines. Some of the company’s later advertising state a 1908 start, but external business sources list 1909.

1910: Buckeye introduces the first of it’s own line of gas and gasoline engines, a 2 hp single cylinder. By 1912, the lineup is stated to include engines from 1 to 25 horsepower. The East Wayne Street plant is stated by period newspapers to have an output of one new engine per day.

1914: Construction begins on a new plant at Atlantic Avenue and Broadway in Lima. Buckeye is incorporated and Edward Neiswander is joined in the ownership and operation by brothers Calvin P. and Jacob A. Neiswonder, and others. It is stated in period newspapers the company was 250 engines behind in meeting orders and intended to more than double it’s workforce of 20 to increase production.

1917: Buckeye moves into another new facility of some 56,000 square feet, including a foundry, on O’Conner Avenue in South Lima. Also, Buckeye introduces their first oil engine, a single-cylinder two-stroke making 90 horsepower from a 16 x 20 inch bore and stroke. This engine is called the Buckeye-Barrett oil engine, the “Barrett” for Dwight O. Barrett, it’s designer, who came aboard in the 1915-16 timeframe to develop the engine. Barrett was gone by 1919, having moved south, eventually becoming a Chief Engineer at Superior Engine in Springfield, Ohio. It is stated in the local newspaper that Buckeye was also developing a line of four-cylinder oil engines from 200-400 horsepower in order to make a bid for a U.S. Navy shipbuilding contract. That does not appear to have occurred.

1918: The oil engines evolve to include some with a 19 x 23 inch bore and stroke. Two cylinder horizontals are introduced. Power rating run from 50-125 horsepower for the singles and 160 to 260 horsepower for the twins.

1929: According to Diesel Progress, Buckeye discontinues the manufacture of the one and two-cylinder horizontal oil engines this year, and consolidates on the manufacture of the Model P, a four-stroke vertical diesel with a 13 x 18 inch bore and stroke producing 60 horsepower per cylinder. They were offered in inline cylinder arrangements from two to six cylinders. Anecdotally it’s known the sale of horizontal two-stroke oil engines continued after 1929, but it isn’t known if these were previously built engines, specially built or built from existing parts.

1932: The Buckeye Model E introduced as a four-stroke vertical diesel with two to eight cylinders inline and a bore and stroke of 9.5 x 14 inches. Per cylinder output is listed at 37.5 horsepower at 400 rpm.

1933: The Buckeye Model J introduced. It was a two to eight cylinder, 4-stroke diesel with a 7.5 x 10.5 inch bore and stroke, making 20 horsepower per cylinder at 540 rpm. The Model J was Buckeye’s smallest engine to date.

1935: Buckeye Model P engine discontinued and replaced by the Model O. The model O was offered in three to eight cylinders with a bore and stroke of 13.5 x 15.5 inches. Output was 75 horsepower per cylinder at 360 rpm.

1938: The Buckeye Model 70 is introduced with 10 x 12 inch cylinders making 48 horsepower per cylinder at 514 rpm. They came in three to eight cylinders inline.

1940: The Buckeye Model 80 is introduced with a 10.5 x 12 inch bore and stroke rated at 60 horsepower per cylinder at 600 rpm. Turbocharging was offered. The smaller Models E and J are discontinued.

1946: The Models O and 70 are discontinued and the Model 95 introduced. It had 14.5 x 18 cylinders and developed 112 horsepower per cylinder at 360 rpm. It was built in the traditional range of three to eight cylinders and was offered turbocharged or natural. Introduced at this time was their “Silent Watchman” feature, which was an automatic shutdown system that monitored coolant temperature and oil pressure

1947: Edward Neiswander (1881-1959) retires.

1948: The Neiswonder family sells it’s ownership of the company. It was said in period literature that World War II had disrupted Buckeye’s sales organization so as to make continuation difficult. The company had carried on without Edward and completed orders without taking new ones but the company was finally sold to a Cincinnati firm.

1950: Most of Buckeye’s manufacturing equipment is sold, the manufacturing facility is put up for sale or lease and what’s left of the business reverts to selling Buckeye engine parts.
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Sooty Jim

A further note and request:

I'd like to document the 1917-1929 Buckeye product lines. I think there were several versions of the oil engines available, the original 16x20-inch bore and stroke and the later 19x23 but I don't know much about when these different types were offered, if they were offered at the same time, etc. The engine serial number lists the model first and from that I know the single cylinder Buckeye 125 hp oil engine seen at the Maumee Valley show is a Model L. I do not have model numbers for any other engines in the 1917-29 era.

Also, a 1948 Diesel Progress diesel history piece states Buckeye ceased manufacturing the oil engines in 1929, going full diesel with the Model P. But it's also known oil engines were sold after 1929. I'd like to learn more about that situation and whether horizontal oil engine manufacture was 100 percent discontinued in '29 and whether any oil engines sold after were leftover stock, built from parts or if the oil engine remained available by special order for a time. It's also possible Buckeye took them back in trade on newer engines, remanufactured and resold them.

Sooty Jim

A public thanks to K-Tron who found some Buckeye info in a 1949 publication and shared it with me.

Interesting to note that by the time that material appeared, the company was already on the way out. Given the lead time for periodical publication, the sales department could send out the latest material at the same time the board of directors is making the decision to cease operations. By the time the material is published, the company could have shut it's doors. That was not the case with Buckeye... not quite... but it looks like they were winding down and probably not taking orders.
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Sooty Jim

Maybe I meant "sh-- it's drawers?"

I know that is the first time most of you have seen that word, so I am devastated to have accidentally typed it here.