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The NumbersNote the above serial number list. All numbers begin with the digits 12, through 17.
Could it be that the serial numbers started with the digits indicating the year that they were built? None of the above numbers breaks that rule.
It is also entirely possible that the remaining digits indicate the engine's production number, meaning my 2hp was built in 1912, and was the 272nd engine built. If this is the case, then Chapman built only about 1600 engines. This seems to make sense, as the numbers following the first two digits seem to increment upward steadily, not exceeding what a small engine company could produce in a year's time.
The BuildingAround 1850 the largest building in the town of Dundas Ontario was the "cotton mill". This building was owned by the DUNDAS COTTON MILLS and it employed many of the town's people.
By 1885, other cotton mills throughout the country came into existence, and competition was keen. Eventually, the owners of the larger mills formed a syndicate that bought out the smaller
mills. Although the Dundas Cotton Mills was a large operation for the town, it was, nonetheless, considered by the cotton syndicate to be comparatively small. Therefore, they purchased it and closed it down in 1891. After that time the building remained empty for about 5 years.
Over the years it did accommodate a variety of smaller industries, including the Canada Can Company (Dominion Canister & Crown Canister Company) from 1896 to 1910.
Then in 1912, the former "cotton mill" building was owned by the CHAPMAN Engine Company, which struggled along until 1918.
Neither of these two operations were large enough to use the whole factory, and only losses were incurred. The building remained empty for another 4 or 5 years. Then it became the
home of United Food Products from 1922 until 1924. In 1924, it became the Caldwell Canning Factory. This operation only lasted until 1926. (this is probably why some of the town's old timers were saying that the Chapman engines were built in the old "cannery", when they were in fact built in the old "cotton mill").
The CompanyStephen Henry Chapman, who was president of Ontario Wind engine and Pump Company (OWE & PC) started the Chapman Engine Company in Dundas, Ontario Canada, their first engine was built in October 1911 in the above mentioned cotton mill. During their peak, 80-100 men were employed by Chapman engine Co.
During 1916 and 1917, the company went into full war time production, building shells. A fire destroyed part of their building in 1917.
Due to money problems, in 1918 the factory was closed, and assets sold to cover debt. They never resumed engine production.
Chapman Engine Company would have built engines during the period
starting October, 1911 until sometime in 1917 or possibly 1918.
During the years following the company's closure, engines were built for OWE & PC by Nelson Brothers with the OWE&P Company tag.
It would seem that this Canadian company built engines for a period of only about 6 years. How many of these fine engines still exist today?
Rick Mannen and Harold Kuret of Lynden, Ontario, and Denis Rouleau of Quebec
Portions of the above history come from the book:
"The Wheels of Progress" in the Dundas Historical Museum. Return to TOP of page Intro Page / Bill's Antique Gas Engines / Chapman Registry & History / Chat Forums, Want Ads & Show List / Magnet Chargers / Atwater-Kent Ignition / Pics of Javelin / Javelin rebuild photos