Clark Colby 3 hp GRAY Nelson
Clark Colby's 3 hp Nelson Brother's
Clark story ......
I own a 3 HP Gray "Power King" engine made by Nelson Brothers.
I have owned this engine since about 1963 and bought it from its
original owner. Shortly after I bought it, I wrote to GRAY, which was still
in business at the time, and they wrote back stating that the engine dated
to about 1917.
Webster Tri-polar ignition. Throttling governor. Cast iron sub base.
Two-piece cast iron crank guard. Very worn, apparently from
driving a Western Electric 32 volt battery-charging generator, which I also
The generator was separate from the panel board which was separate from
the engine by the time I bought them. I think the engine was used for another
purpose after the generator was retired since the engine came with a pulley too
small in diameter to use to drive the generator (which was / is missing its original pulley).
I assume the engine and generator were separately bolted to a floor in an out-building
and that Gray did not furnish any common skid-type wooden subbase. They were no
doubt coupled by a flat belt 2-3 inches wide. There was probably no clutch as normally
the engine would be permanently belted to the generator. The parasitic load during stating
would be minimal, and, in fact, the 32 volt battery could be used to "motor" the generator
to start the engine if the operator knew how to do it.
Yes, forty years ago, I destroyed the original maroon paint and yellow
pinstriping, but at that time I repainted and striped it as it had originally been.
It had a large, semi-script "Gray" decal on the off-side of the water hopper which I
did not reproduce very accurately. I suspect you will observe that all of these Nelson
Bros. engines had either serial # 3303 or 3333 for some reason.
Yes, it was a good fifteen dollar investment in 1963. Interestingly, I still regularly
drive the 1961 International 4-wheel drive V-8 pick-up that hauled it home.
I forgot to add that this engine has a kerosene mixer with provisions for jacket-water
injection to minimize pre-ignition knocking. I assume, but of course don't know,
that all of the Nelson brothers throttling engines were equipped to burn kerosene
I hope this adds a bit to the information pool.
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