How Sterling Engines Are Made [1908]

Some idea of the care which is exercised in the manufacture of Sterling marine engines may be obtained from the examination of the Sterling Engine Co., at 1250-126 Niagara Street, Buffalo, N.Y.. This present plant was built and equipped especially for the purpose of marine engine construction, and it well be observed that no expense was spared to bring the company's manufacturing facilities up to the highest standard in every particular. Only the latest and most improved machines are employed to turn out the various parts of Sterling engines. A complete system of jigs is used in the process of machining the different parts of these engines, so that when finished the parts must be exactly the same size, and consequently they are interchangeable.

Every part that enters into the construction of Sterling motors, from the smallest bolt and nut to the aluminum base, is subjected to the closest inspection, and the utmost care is exercised to obtain perfection in detail. Throughout the work every minute detail is carried out with the most scrupulous pains, with the realization that the whole product is only as strong as its weakest part. From start to finish, each engine is built with extreme care and is rigidly inspected at every stage of manufacture, and, finally, the complete engine is thoroughly tested before shipment.

The care and this rigorous testing insures a satisfactory motor -- one which will serve its purpose, which will do its duty under every test to which it may be subjected. With such a system of vigilance, and in a factory where only the most skilled men are employed and where only the most modern and most perfect machinery is used, it is quite easy to understand why Sterling engines have proved worthy of the highest praise, and that the increasing popularity of this motor is justly merited.

The new types of Sterling engines for 1908 are splendid examples of the achievement of the designer and the builder, of the skill of the workmen and of the care in selection of the materials. Aggressiveness, individuality and honest endeavor are the principles under which this business is conducted, and every effort of the company has been fixed on one particular object -- to reach the highest standard in marine engine construction.

This must suffice for a description of the factory, of the forces behind the Sterling engines. The motors themselves are a most interesting point. For 1908 several radical changes have been made, mainly for the purpose of simplifying and reducing the number of parts. Thus, in the new models, the cylinders are cast double, the oiling system has been improved, and a number of parts has been eliminated entirely. One leading feature in the 1908 showing is the new normal-speed Sterling engine. This type, rated at 40 hp., develops its power from 300 to 600 r.p.m. The valves are placed on opposite sides, and are mechanically operated. A mechanical oiling system, which provides for a separate pump for each sight-feed oiler, is part of the equipment. This system of lubrication is positive and easily adjusted to the necessary amount of oil required. Another special feature is the entire elimination of oil leakage at the base, the base being so arranged that any leakage of oil is carried back into a special oil pit provided for the purpose. The crowning feature is the arrangement of the plunger circulating pump, plunger bilge pump and plunger air pump with which the engine is equipped. These pumps are located in a vertical position at the back end of the motor, and are operated by a crank designed for the purpose. The weight of this normal-speed engine is about 1,800 pounds, which may be reduced approximately 400 pounds by the use of aluminum bases if so desired.

HP. Cyl Cycle Bore Stroke
1 2 3½" 3½"
1 2 4½" 4½"
5 2 4 3½" 3½"
3 4 3½" 3½"
9 2 2 4½" 4½"
15-20 4 4 4" 5"
25-40 4 4 5½" 6"
40-60 4 4 6½" 7"
45-65 6 4 5½" 6"
60-90 6 4 6½" 7"


Much further information is to be found in the new Sterling catalogue for 1908 -- a very useful and comprehensive booklet -- which will be sent anywhere upon request.

(Excerpts transcribed from MotorBoat, Jan. 25, 1908, p. 37)

{Even though this is a bit of heavy-handed corporate propaganda, history will show that after the Sterling engine was first placed in Gold Cup competition by William J. Conners, in his Buffalo Courier II, the Sterling engine became the mainstay in competitive power on water. MIT II won the Gold Cup in 1911 powered by Sterling and Sterling helped Miss Detroit to be the first boat to take the Gold Cup west in 1915. — GWC}

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]

[NOTE: Sterling Engines here are not to be confused with the modern Stirling Engine, a heat-differential device].