The exact year for this engine isn’t given but it probably dates to the early 1900’s. Cast into the metal of the smokebox door on the front of the engine is a patent date of April 13, 1875. A search will turn up a Scientific American from March 30, 1878 courtesy of books.google.com . Here you will find an illustration of the “new Peerless Portable steam engine, 6 to 10 hp.” that looks similar to the engine shown here.
Peter Geiser founded Geiser Manufacturing Co. in 1855 to sell threshing machines of his design. He moved production to Waynesboro, Pa. in 1860. Apparently George Frick offered him part of the land he had purchased to build his factory on. It wouldn’t be long before Geiser Mfg. Co. was producing Peerless steam engines to compete with Frick Eclipse models. Emerson-Brantingham Co. bought out Geiser in 1912 but continued to use the Peerless / Geiser name for a number of years. The sources that I have seen agree that Emerson Brantingham acquired the Peerless line in 1912 but beyond that, accounts vary.
The most accurate and complete version of the story might be the one you can find at www.emersonbrantingham.com . This site has done yeoman’s work of assembling and making available online a collection of original source material on the subject. According to their history, EB went on an acquisition binge in 1912 gobbling up other companies like some crazed corporate Pac Man. The list included: The Pontiac Buggy Co. , LaCrosse Hay Tool Co. , Reeves and Co. , Geiser Manufacturing Co. , Rockford Gas Engine Works, Gas Traction Co. ( Big-4 ), Newton Wagon Co. , and American Drill Co. All this in one year! Like most benders, this one left a serious hangover in its wake and Emerson Brantingham found itself facing major financial difficulties.
Emerson Brantingham had added two major manufacturers of steam engines and a producer of large heavy tractors to their portfolio, just as the demand for these products was beginning to decline. By 1928 it was EB’s turn to be acquired. J.I. Case of Racine, Wisconsin moved in and bought up what was left, mainly for the manufacturing facilities.
One of the documents you can download at the emersonbrantingham.com website is a Geiser Machinery Catalog from 1913. The forward contains the announcement that since the issue of the last catalog, the Geiser Works had become a part of the Emerson- Brantingham Organization. This catalog features illustrations of nine traction engine models, a line of threshers, hullers and separators for a variety of crops, accessories , water wagons and road rollers. Page 45 features an illustration of a Peerless Portable engine typical of engines from 4 to 15 horsepower. The copy states that larger engines were available from 20 to 35 hp. Hay presses, sawmills and gas engines were also offered that year. This catalog is just one of a number of interesting documents available at this website. Check it out.
The F.A.P.A. annual show will be May 18th and 19th 2018 at the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds in Newton, NC. for more information click the link in the shows and events section, or do it the hard way by typing www.foothillsantique.com into your browser. Still have questions? Call the show chairman, Teddy Hefner at 828-310-5525.
Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors by C.H. Wendel
Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines by Jack Norbeck