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Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine in a Caterpillar Sixty tractor

The Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine Company from Oakland, California, was a manufacturer of marine propulsion machinery. The company was founded in 1903 as the Atlas Engine Co. by John Lorimer in San Francisco, California. In 1914/6 it merged with Imperial Gas Engine Company.[1]

Atlas was taken over by Superior Division of National Supply Co. in 1950.

In April 1955, National Supply Co. sold its Diesel Engine Division to the White Motor Co. of Cleveland, which became the White Diesel Engine Division and later the White Superior Division before being bought by Cooper Industries in the 1970s.

Company history

The Atlas Engine Company of San Fransisco and the Imperial Engine Company of ? were merged in 1914/6 (depending on source), to form the Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine Company. They had both built gasoline engines for several years but after their merger, they produced their first diesel engine. Engines were first built at Oakland, California, with M. C. Wright, Sr., as the first president of the new company. F. H. Kilberry was the next president. The company relocated in Mattoon in 1935, with R. H. Fernando as superintendent, M.A. Dent works manager and W. J. Webster as purchasing agent. (From Atlas News and Views, May, 1945).[2]

In 1950, Superior increased its involvement in the marine engine market by purchasing Atlas-Imperial Diesel Engine Co. of Oakland, Calif. Selling products under both the Superior and Atlas-Imperial name, the firm ultimately decided to clear up confusion about which firm produced what and changed its name to simply the Engine Division of the National Supply Co.

In April 1955, National Supply Co. sold its Diesel Engine Division to the White Motor Co. of Cleveland, which was among the leading manufacturers of large, heavy-duty trucks and tractors. The sale included an agreement that National Supply continue to distribute Superior and Atlas engines throughout the oil industry. Several years later, National Supply was acquired by the Armco Steel Corp. of Middletown, Ohio.

The Superior plant in Springfield became known as the White Diesel Engine Division. In the 1950s and 1960s, the company's engines were used in almost every application possible: transportation, marine, defense, municipal and the oil industry. In the 1960s, the company gradually returned to producing gas engines with a new line of gas-fueled engine-compressor units. In 1964, Ohio experienced another oil boom not far from Springfield, and Superior engine-compressor units were installed.

With gas engines re-established as important products, the name was changed once again from White Diesel Engine Division to White Superior Division. When the company was purchased by Cooper Industries in the early 1970s, the majority of Superior markets were in the oil and gas industry, with some sales among municipalities and occasionally to government groups. Additionally, the division completely withdrew from marine diesel production.

I would like to thank Cooper Industries for kindly sharing information concerning the company's history.

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Possibly the most notable use of there engines other than in boats was when Industrialist Kaiser had several fitted in Caterpillar Sixty tractors for use on earthmoving projects. These were the first diesel Caterpillar tractors built.

Other similar companies

  • Atlas Gas Engine Co. of Indianapolis.

References / sources

External links