Standard Gas Engine Company

The Standard Gas Engine Company was a major player in the Bay area, a center of innovation that dominated the Pacific coast in pioneering internal-combustion engines for marine applications. It was founded around 1900 but relocated to Oakland in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, on property it had fortuitously leased from the Port of Oakland a month earlier.

It thrived at this location, on the shore of Brooklyn Basin at the foot of Dennison Street, where ships could have their engines installed or repaired at the company’s wharf. The Standard Gas baseball team was part of the Industrial Intercounty League in the mid-teens. The plant expanded in 1916 after the acquisition of the Corlis Gas Engine Company. In 1917 the Tribune reported that the company was paying its employees a quarterly dividend from its profits. (Labor activists regard this kind of “company union” as a typical management trick to prevent real unions from forming.)

In the 1920s the Ford Motor Company contracted with the company to build parts for its products, such as the new Hamilton transmission for the Fordson line of tractors. In 1933 it began making engines for the American Diesel Engine company. The last reference to the company in the Oakland Tribune was in 1942.

Standard Gas Engine made stationary engines as well as boat and vehicle engines. Perhaps one of those, possibly a water pump, lies beneath this access cover.

5 Responses to “Standard Gas Engine Company”

  1. Andrew Says:

    It’s interesting that the other Standard Gas Engine access cover I’ve photographed (see the Oakwiki page) has the lettering oriented differently, i.e. concentric, whereas this one is oriented for reading from one position, i.e. parallel.

  2. Mike Sarell Says:

    I have Bulletin 19 produced by Standard Gas Engine Company (ca 1920) which has a good drawing of the plant and images of a diploma from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle 1909 and also one from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in SanFran 1915. I could send scans if you like. The remainder of the bulletin features their engines and boat applications. The bulletin also mentions them being on Dennison and King Streets and being established in 1901. They produced engines 5 to 275 HP. Their Cable Address was “STANGAS”.

    [Mike, it would be awesome if you could send a scan of the drawing of the plant. In fact, consider sending it to the Oakland Wiki; see the page there for Standard Gas at — Andrew]

  3. Ken Says:

    I recently spotted a curbside storm drain inlet in the Elmhurst Park neighborhood that was made by Standard Gas Engine Co.

  4. Ken Says:

    I saw a storm drain this morning on MacArthur near Fruitvale with a mark of “Standard Foundries / Oakland Calif.” I looked up Standard Foundries on the web and didn’t find much but saw a location of Dennison & King listed in a 1928 Hendricks’ Commercial Register. This appears to be the same location as Standard Gas Engine Company. Perhaps they split off a separate foundry business at some point?

  5. K Devlin Says:

    I would love any additional information you may have. One of the founders of Standard Gas Engine Company, Peter Mohrdieck, was a family connection. Has this material mentioned in comments above been posted, such as the plans of the plant and the Exposition?

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