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Manufacturers Index - Atlas Engine Works

Atlas Engine Works
Indianapolis, IN, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jul 27 2017 4:45PM by joelr4
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      The Atlas Co. was founded in 1872 or '73 as the Indianapolis Car Works. It was reorganized twice more, once in 1874 as the Atlas Works, and again in 1878 as the Atlas Engine Works. It was a major manufacturer of stationary steam engines. The exact date that the company was founded is not known, but believed to be sometime in the early 1870's. Growth came swiftly for this new company, by 1878 they had nearly 600 employees working for them.

      When the company began, they manufactured miscellaneous products, but in 1880, devoted their production "exclusively to the manufacture of steam engines and boilers of standard types and sizes." Beginning around 1897, they expanded their line into the gas engine business. By 1902, the company had grown to have approximately 1,500 employees.

      While the company had grown swiftly during its first 30 years to become one of the largest makers of engines in the entire United States, things were about to change. For unknown reasons, Atlas went into receivership in 1907 and was never really able to recover. The gas engine business was sold in 1910 to Mr. Max Kueger who owned the San Antonio Machine and Supply Co. By 1912 the assets of the company, including all parts and patterns, had been relocated to San Antonio, TX, where a new company, Krueger-Atlas, continued to manufacture gas engines under their own name.

      The diesel and automobile engine lines were sold in 1912 to the Lyons-Atlas Company.

Lyons-Atlas Company Will Remodel Indianapolis Plant.

      Through the purchase of the Atlas Engine Works by the Lyons-Atlas Company, at Indianapolis, last month, the Knight sleeve-valve engine, for automobile practice receives an additional impetus from a production standpoint. The new company, which has been incorporated with a capital stock of $500,000, all paid in, will take possession of the plant at once and will begin the manufacture of Knight engines for the trade.

      The Atlas Engine Works was ordered sold by the court and was in the hands of a receiver for about three months and a half. The Lyons-Atlas Company, which made the successful bid, is composed of Chicago men. The officers of the new company are President, James W. Lyons; Vice President William P. Lyons; Secretary and Treasurer George Lyons. An interesting feature of this sale is that James W. Lyons and William P. Lyons were employed by the Atlas Engine Works about twenty years ago, and now return to the establishment as proprietors. Frank Baker, who for many years has been identified with the works in responsible positions. will act as Assistant to the President under the new organization.

      The new company pays $441,000, the interest on the $1,050,000 worth of bonds, secured by a mortgage deed of trust held by the Indiana Trust Company; also the sum of $105,000, a certain indebtedness secured by $150,000 worth of bonds; also $48,187.04, a debt which is secured by $63,000 worth of bills and accounts receivable, and $80,000 in cash. Two judgments against the Atlas Engine Works, aggregating $6,700, will also be paid. During the receivership the plant was operated with a reduced force of workmen. The new company will in addition to the manufacture of Silent Knight engines also continue the production of the Diesel engine and will employ from two to three thousand workmen.

      James W. Lyons, president of the new company, is one of the best known and most prominent engineers in the country, having had 30 years' experience in the various branches of the machinery business.

Information Sources

  • Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, 1875, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, September 1875. "But two complete saw mills were on exhibition, one by Atlas Works of Indianapolis, and one by Chandler & Taylor, Indianapolis, only one of which was in operation—that shown by Chandler & Taylor—which was of the class known as 'Muley Saw Mills,' and is intended for use on a farm where no large amount of lumber is intended to be made. It is driven by a thresher engine, and is a good mill for all purposes for which it is recommended. The other mill shown was a first class circular mill intended for making lumber on a large scale."
  • Twenty-Ninth Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, 1879, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, October 1879. "The Atlas Engine Works, Indianapolis, made a splendid display, both in variety and in style of work... they have... a portable saw-mill engine on a permanent bed plate. This last-named engine has an important improvement in its feed pump, by which a uniform supply of water is secured. In all the engines from the Atlas Works the cylinder and bed plate are cast in one piece, by which additional solidity is secured."
  • Thirtieth Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, 1880. "Report of the First Division of the Committee on the Special Merits of unpremiumed articles, Exhibited at the State Fair, 1880". "Arnold's Improved Patent Head Block with Automatic Dog, Manufactured by the Atlas Engine Works (of Indianapolis). Exhibited by A. B. Arnold, Patentee. One set of saw-mill head blocks, with friction clutch and automatic dog. The back of the knee is made segment-like with cogs. A pinion, which is operated by the lever, works the dog up and down, so as to adjust it to any size of log." A search failed to turn up any sawmill head-block or dog patent to anyone named Arnold.
  • Some of this information was gleaned from a thread on the History of Atlas on the Smokstack Discussion Forum.
  • Additional information is from an article titled "The Atlas Engine News", printed in the Feb. 2001 issue of Gas Engine Magazine.
  • Another article titled Midwest Utilitor appeared in the July/August issue of Gas Engine News with historical information on Atlas.
  • Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Enginesby Jack Norbeck, 1975 page 64
  • American Steam Engine Builders: 1800-1900 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2006 page 22
  • Steam Power on the American Farm by Reynold M. Wik, 1953 pages 251 & 254
  • Industrial world, Volume 46, 11 Nov 1912, page iii
  • American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 by C. H. Wendel, Volume #1, 1983 pages38 & 288
  • The Automobile Journal, 10 Nov 1913 pg 32
  • Gas Power, V10, Dec 1912, pg. 84