A Stover light plant?
Cover of a 1923 Stover electric light plant catalog.
Stover collectors may be surprised to learn that Stover manufactured an electric light plant. We typically associate light plants with Delco, Fairbanks-Morse and other companies known for building these systems. Really, it’s not too surprising since Stover engines were used on many types of equipment.
The Stover light plant wasn’t just a standard Stover engine belted up to a generator; it was an engine modified for electric service and mounted on a cast base that held the engine, generator and supplemental cooling tank. The factory explains that the unit is belt driven to keep it simple and to use 30-year-old technology. By this time, many plants were gear driven or direct-drive.
Our information comes from a catalog that Stover issued in 1923. The engine is listed as a Type K (KA) with a throttling governor, special cooling tank, water-cooled head, and Webster magneto. The engine is actually 1-1/2 HP that the catalog optimistically claims will develop 2-1/2 HP: “Type K engines develop their horse power at slow speed. The 1-1/2 HP engine actually develops 2-1/2 HP at 550 rpm.” The water hopper has an adapter that plumbs the engine to a separate cooling tank. The cylinder head used extra large valves and was water cooled. This engine burned kerosene, gasoline and natural gas.
The generator and switchboard were made by Western Electric with a capacity of “3/4 KW or 700 watts.” I’m not sure what this means as it appears to be discrepant. The switchboard used a regulator for constant voltage. The board also had a circuit breaker, fuses, a charging gauge and starting switch. The battery system used 16 glass jar cells producing 32 volts. As you can see from the catalog, it was a neat looking outfit and would make a great display today. I’d sure like to know if anybody has one of these.
More on the Stover records
We have had a large number of requests to look up Stover engine serial numbers. In the process, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to some very interesting and friendly folks. Because we are providing information on many Stover engines, I’ve started to collect data on a spreadsheet. Personal information is being kept confidential although I’ve put certain parties in contact with each other (with permission) to help with specific engine questions. The Freeport (Ill.) Show does have a website so we may be able to establish an online registry in the future.