Crabb Gas Engine Co.

Posted in    |   Back to All Articles
Posted in
Back to All Articles

Crabb Gas Engine Company was organized in 1910 by Isiah E. Crabb and J.W. Dwyer. The Crabb engine featured a distinctive water hopper fabricated of sheet copper. In case of freezing the copper jacket would yield, thus preventing serious damage and expensive repairs. This improvement was covered under U.S. Patent 1,008,789 on November 14, 1911. Crabb engines were built in 3, 5, and 10 horsepower sizes: with the 10 HP model consisting of two 5 horsepower units coupled together. The Crabb plant was moved from West Union to Independence, Iowa in October 1918. Engine production ended at that time. At Independence, custom machine work continued, and in addition, the firm rebuilt large tractor engines for customers from all over the United States, Canada, and South America. By the late Twenties however, this trade had diminished considerably, and so it was necessary to find new fields of endeavor. Sometime during the Twenties, Crabb began building sawmills. Although he had an active hand in he development of a planetary gear arrangement used as a feed mechanism on the mill, this, along with several other inventions, was not patented. Sawmills and general machine work continued until Mr. Crabb sold the business and retired in 1952. At Mr. Crabb’s insistence, the name was changed by the new owners who called the firm The Independence Machine Company. For a variety of reasons, the new firm was not a success and in the spring of 1963, one of Mr. Crabb’s former employees, Mr. Milo Schnoor, Vinton, Iowa purchased the firm. He operated business in the old Crabb buildings at Independence until the 1970’s when he vacated the property and moved the plant to Vinton. The Buchanan Co. Historical Society has on display at the Wapsipinicon Mill a miniature saw mill made to scale by Ed O’Brien in the 1950’s. The mill museum is open from mid-May through mid-September noon-4pm Tuesday-Sunday closed Mondays. Volunteer on duty at all times.