Museum of Agriculture & History: Hit and Miss Engines

In rural life, the distinct sound of “POP whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh POP” was the sound of progress. For that was the sound made by the hit and miss engine as the engine fired and then coasted until the speed decreased and it needed to fire again to maintain its average speed.

On the farm, they were used to power pumps for cultivation, saws for cutting wood, generators for electricity, running farm equipment and many other applications. They were often mounted on carriages so they could be moved from application to application. These labor-saving devices allowed the farmer to accomplish much more than he was previously able to do. These engines were made by an array of manufacturers during their peak usage from approximately 1910 through the early 1930s when they began to be replaced by more modern design

The Museum displays an assortment of hit and miss engines, ranging from 1½ horsepower to 12 horsepower and 300 pounds to 4,000 pounds.