History of the Clinton Engines Corporation
Data Source: Clinton Field Service Manual Except as Noted *
(Got more history, let me know)
HISTORY - CLINTON ENGINES CORPORATION
Clinton Engines Corporation was established in 1946 to manufacture small general purpose air-cooled
gasoline engines. Today the Corporation is one of the largest suppliers of these engines
which are used principally on power lawnmowers, and for other home, farm and industrial uses.
A complete chainsaw line and air-cooled outboards from 3 to 9.9 horsepower are also manufactured
at the Maquoketa, Iowa plant.
Clinton engines are sold and serviced by more than 12, 000 dealers in the United States plus
outlets in 88 foreign countries. Hundreds of original equipment manufacturers use Clinton engines
on their power equipment. First operations of the Corporation were in Clinton where 150
employees started producing a 1.5 horsepower engine. Initial production was approximately 225
engines a week.
Within the first year the company employed approximately 1, 000 persons. The following year,
1948 two additional models were added to the line, one a 2 horsepower engine and the other a
3 horsepower engine. In 1950 the Corporation purchased a 200, 000 square foot manufacturing
facility in Maquoketa built five years previous for a manufacturer of farm equipment. Since then
the plant has been enlarged to 250, 000 square feet. From the original 1. 5 horsepower, 4-cycle
engine Clinton now makes a total of 16 basic models ranging from 2 1/2 to 10.3 horsepower, of
2-cycle and 4-cycle design, horizontal and vertical crankshaft.
Largest outlet for Clinton engines is the power lawnmower market. It is estimated that about
two-thirds of the Corporation's engines go into this field. Among the Corporation's contributions
to the industry are- the first mass produced vertical-shaft engines for rotary lawnmowers; first
o Introduce an automotive-type oil pump in a 4-cycle engine and the "dry type' automotive air
filter; first to use the shell-molded engines; first to use a cast-iron liner, cast as an integral
part of the cylinder block, in lightweight aluminum engines; and similar other developments which
have made these engines more versatile, easier to start and give longer usable operating life.
In 1952, Clinton introduced its own line of chain saws. The saws were used in agriculture, home
construction, and by utility companies for clearing land, landscaping, and cutting timber and pulpwood.
In 1957, Clinton introduced its own line of 5-horsepower air-cooled outboard motors. Ideal for fishing,
trolling and cruising, they could provide stand-by auxiliary power for small and medium-sized sailboats,
as well as for dinghies, canoes, or any type of wood, fiberglass or aluminum craft. In 1966, a
9.9-horsepower air-cooled unit was added.
Clinton entered the export market in 1953. In recent years Clinton accounted for one-third
of all air-cooled engines sold under 10 horsepower overseas. In May 1966, Clinton received
the coveted “E” Award for excellence in export from the President of the United States, the
first engine manufacturer to be so honored.
* Clinton Engines Corporation started out as Clinton Machine Company located in Clinton, Michigan, U.S.A.
Later became Clinton Engines Corporation and was relocated in Maquoketa, Iowa, U.S.A.
The Clinton Outboard has its roots in Clinton, Michigan. Clinton Machine Company had been manufacturing
gears for tank turrets during WW II. After the war, owner Don Thomas saw a need and decided to manufacture
a line of small gasoline engine.
His company and sales grew rapidly. Toward the end of 1946, the company employed over 1000 employees.
And, by 1949 with soaring sales, they had out-grown the plant in Michigan.
In 1950 Don Thomas purchased a factory in Maquoketa, Iowa. This factory had manufactured huge industrial
saws made by the Maquoketa Company.
Up to 1954, Clinton Engines had manufactured single cylinder air cooled engines, inboard engines and chain saws.
Clinton introduced its first Outboard motors in 1954. Through the years the Clinton Outboards have been
sold under many different brand names and through many different sales outlets.
The Outboard Industry was changing in the early 60's and Clinton needed capital to modernize their plant.
Mr. Thomas was unable to raise the capital required and sold the company to "The Charnay Group of New York".
With the new management team in place, Clinton Engines floundered for awhile with very little
In 1966, "Clinton Engines" ran out of money and filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court approve sale
of Clinton Engines to a Mr. Martin Hoffinger of "Lomart Company". He down scaled the Clinton operation
and reopened in 1967.
They continued to manufacturing small engines. By 1980 the chain saw and outboard divisions were sold off
and liquidated. The only portion of Clinton that remained was the Clinton Engines Parts Department.
Clinton Engine Products Company
P.O. Box 860
Maquoketa, Iowa, 52060
NOTE: The following link will take you off the our web site.
More on Clinton outboards
Back to Main Small Engine Company's Page.
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