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Briggs & Stratton

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Briggs & Stratton
Type Public
Founded 1908
Headquarters Wauwatosa, WI, USA
Key people John Shiely, CEO.
Industry Manufacturing
Products Engines
Employees 9,063
Website www.BriggsandStratton.com

Briggs & Stratton is one of the world's largest manufacturers of air-cooled gasoline engines for primarily outdoor power equipment. Current production averages 11 million engines per year. They are also one of the largest Lawn & Garden tractor manufacturers, manufacturing under the Simplicity, Murray, AGCO, Snapper and Massey Ferguson brands, among others.

HistoryEdit

The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in 1908 and today is based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Briggs and Stratton engines are most commonly used on lawnmowers, as well as pressure washers, electrical generators, and a wide variety of other applications. Their original cast-iron engines were known for their durability but the company's success was established following the development of lightweight aluminium engines in 1953. The aluminium engine was the perfect solution for the recently invented rotary lawnmower due to its lighter weight and lower cost. The company enhanced its reputation in the sixties and seventies by developing a strong service reputation through independent central services distributors (CSDs), low cost replacement parts and well designed service literature.

The company started in 1908 as an informal partnership between Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold M. Stratton. The original intent of the founders was to produce automobiles. In 1922 the company set a record in the automotive industry, selling the lowest-priced car ever, the Briggs & Stratton Flyer (also called the "Red Bug"), at only US$125-US$150.

Eventually the company settled on automotive components and small gasoline engine Briggs purchased an engine patent from A.O. Smith Company and began powering early washing machines and refrigerators. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1928.

During World War II, Briggs and Stratton produced generators for the war effort. Some components in these generators and engines were made with aluminum, which helped the company develop its expertise in using this material. This development, along with the post-war growth of 1950s suburbs (and lawns), helped secure Briggs and Stratton's successful growth in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stephen Briggs went on to purchase Evinrude and Johnson Outboards and start the Outboard Marine Corporation.

Fredrick P. Stratton, Sr. (the son of Harold Stratton) served as Chairman of Briggs & Stratton until his death in 1962. Fredrick P. Stratton, Jr. served as Chairman until his retirement in 2001.

In 1995, Briggs & Stratton spun out the automotive component business. The resulting company is Strattec Security Corporation.

In 2003, the company acquired its consumer generator business from the Beacon Group and formed Briggs & Stratton Power Products. The Beacon Group had previously purchased the Consumer Products Division of Generac Corporation (now Generac Power Systems) in 1998. In 2005, the company added Simplicity Manufacturing Inc, Snapper, Inc, to the Briggs & Stratton Power Products line. Murray, Inc, one of its largest customers, collapsed owing the company $40M, and to minimize the loss B&S decided to purchase the name, marketing rights & product designs of that company.

On 4 June 2008 Briggs & Stratton announced that it would be acquiring the Victa Lawn Care business from GUD Holdings Limited Australia for AUD $23 million.

Acquisitions, agreements and joint venturesEdit

  • Farymann Diesel GmbH (1979—1984) - Based in Lampertheim (near Mannheim) in Germany, this was the first foreign acquisition B&S had ever made and was a poor fit with the company's acknowledged expertise in high volume, low cost production. Despite investing in new production methods, B&S never understood the very low volume, highly customized nature of the air-cooled diesel engine market. After considering adding Italy's Lombardini to increase its presence in the diesel market, as well as a failed attempt to develop its own designs, B&S accepted defeat and sold the company to a private investor for a nominal amount to avoid further liabilities. Since the energy crisis had not affected the US market's preference for gasoline engines, enthusiasm waned rapidly at management level for diesel engines.[1] They officially completed the acquisition on May 29, 1979.[2]
  • Daihatsu Briggs & Stratton (DBS) - In an effort to stave off Japanese competition during the 1980s, B&S entered a 50/50 joint venture with the Daihatsu Motor Company in Japan. Located in Shiga Prefecture (50 miles from Osaka, Japan), construction on the then-57,000 square-foot plant began in December 1986 and was completed in April 1987. This joint venture was notable for the manufacture of vertical & horizontal crankshaft engines from 12.5 to 22hp under the Vanguard brand. Today the plant employs roughly 100 people on two shifts and manufactures Vanguard V-twin engines ranging from 14 to 36 hp.[3]
  • The Mitsubishi Agreement - The Vanguard line initially consisted of three single-cylinder engines and several V-twin engines. The V-twins, made by DBS, had sold very well but the single-cylinder engine models, originally produced at B&S's Menomonee Falls plant, didn't fare so well. B&S needed to solve this problem, so, following discussions with several Japanese engine manufacturers, entered into an agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan. B&S produced only certain parts for the engines, while Mitsubishi was responsible for overall production and shipping. The completed single cylinder Vanguard engines were shipped directly to customers worldwide. B&S had exclusive marketing rights only in North America, Europe & Australia/New Zealand. MHI had exclusive marketing rights (under their own brand name) in Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea & Japan. In other countries both companies competed with the same product under their own brand names which led to considerable friction, and together with escalating production costs in Japan, caused this otherwise successful relationship to fail. B&S commenced marketing alternative US made single cylinder engines under the Vanguard brand in early 2007.[4]
  • The Komatsu Zenoah Venture - In May 1987, B&S entered into an agreement with yet another Japanese company, executing a 10-year contract with the Komatsu Zenoah Company of Tachikawa, Japan. Under the terms of the contract, Komatsu would manufacture a 2-cycle, 4 hp (2.98 kW) engine, in which B&S would purchase and distribute in the U.S., Europe & Australia/NZ. Said Fred Stratton, "This venture was not successful, because the rising price of the yen made the engine too expensive in the U.S."[5]

Innovations Edit

  • The Aluminum Engine - This was introduced in 1953 as a means of having a lighter-weight engine for applications such as lawn mowers or string trimmers. It was improved five years later in 1958 with the introduction of the Kool-Bore (all aluminum) and Sleeve-Bore (aluminum, with a cast iron cylinder liner).
  • Easy-Spin Starting - This was introduced in 1961 as a means of cutting in half the effort of manually starting an engine. This had replaced all means of starting on all B&S engines except for electric start systems.[6]

But in 1982, as new U.S. federal safety regulations required every small engine manufacturer to add emergency shut-off switches to lawn mower applications, company engineers discovered that engines with the Easy-Spin intake were unacceptably difficult to restart. The Easy-Spin was moved to the exhaust valve, but this move presented mediocre power output. Where that was an issue, a mechanical compression release was used. The intake valve Easy-Spin had continued to be used on B&S's larger engines, but was then shelved in 1997 due to new emission regulations.[7]

Their engines now are usually fitted with a dead man's switch to halt power immediately in the case of the operator getting injured by the tool. On Briggs and Stratton engines, this works by applying a spring-energized band brake to the flywheel, with the engine's default state as braked. The operator must hold a handle to remove the engine brake, with any release of this handle causing the engine to brake again.

  • The Sno/Gard Engine - Introduced in 1966, this innovation was exclusively designed for engines powering snow blowers. Prior to 1966, customers of the snowblower had complaints about protection of the engine from the elements of winter. B&S met the needs of these customers by designing special features for this engine such as an air-intake shield, a starter clutch shield and a specially-designed housing to cover the spark plug and carburetor, as well as providing heat for the latter.[8]
  • The Synchro-Balanced Engine - Also introduced in 1966, this innovation was designed as a means to curb vibrations caused by the high RPM and torque of lawn mower engines, especially in riding lawn mowers. The design was a series of counterweights placed along the engine's crankshaft.[9]
  • The Twin Cylinder Engine - This engine was introduced in 1977 as a means of competing with B&S's rivals, particularly Japanese firms like Honda who were cutting into traditional B&S fare by producing lawn mower engines (and later, complete lawn mowers). These first models were rated 16 hp (11.9 kW) and displaced 40 cubic inches (656 cc), but were joined in 1979 by 42 cubic inch (694 cc) models rated at 18 hp (13.4 kW). The original price for the 16 hp (12 kW) version was $70 lower (at $228 USD) than their single-cylinder cast-iron version bearing the same HP rating.[10]
  • Industrial/Commercial (I/C) - This series of engines, initially ranging from 3 to 18hp, was introduced in 1979 as B&S's answer to certain high-quality, commercial-grade engines produced by their rivals (mainly from Japan; see also the Twin Cylinder section above). These engines have such high-tensile features such as Stellite bearings, sleeved cylinder bores and paper air cleaners.[11]
  • Briggs & Stratton HYBRID - In 1980, at the tail end of the energy crisis, Briggs and Stratton developed the first gasoline-electric hybrid automobile. "The Hybrid" was designed by Brooks Stevens and powered by a twin cylinder 16 hp (11.9 kW) Briggs and Stratton engine and a large electric battery.
  • Magnetron Electronic Ignition - This solid state ignition system, introduced by B&S in 1981, eliminated the ages-old points and condenser setup that had plagued many customers who had used a gasoline engine for years. This setup is also available in retrofit kits, but these are only compatible with B&S's external ignition engines produced since January, 1963. However, its rival Tecumseh had made a capacitor discharge ignition setup since 1968, for their cast iron engine models, expanding it to vertical shaft engines powering lawn mowers in late 1976 before the setup came full circle in August, 1984 for all of their engine lines. The Magnetron was actually born out of the Magnavac system, introduced by B&S in 1976.[12]
  • The QUANTUM Engine - Introduced in 1986, this engine series donned higher performance, quieter operation and easier starting. It would go on to become one of B&S's most popular lawn mower engines.
  • The Raptor Engine-The engine which many of Briggs' flatheads, including the I/C, are modeled after.
  • The Animal Engine- Briggs' race-modified overhead valve racing engine, based on their stock generator engine

Logo history Edit

The Briggs & Stratton logo was always a masthead, but it had been changed several times over the course of the company's 80+ years.

  • Gold Logo (1948—1964) - This logo had the name BRIGGS & STRATTON and its home city of MILWAUKEE, WIS., U.S.A. below it; in the middle, it had the words 4 CYCLE on the top mast and the words GASOLINE ENGINE and phrase MADE IN U.S.A. on the bottom mast.
  • Gold Logo (II) (1964—1976) - Although similar to the last logo, this had differently arranged wording: The name BRIGGS & STRATTON was written in a new logotype, however, its city of location were in the middle as before, only this time the patent numbers were eliminated (if you look at a decal on a production engine) from the bottom portion of the mast. There were some engines produced until 1977 that used the prior logo from 1948.
  • The Red, White and Black Logo (1976—present) - This is the company's current logo. The logo has the name BRIGGS & STRATTON in black letters on the white midsection of the masthead. The words 4 CYCLE ENGINE are on the red top portion of the mast and the city line MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, U.S.A. is written on the black bottom portion of the mast. Although the logo hadn't been changed much since then, the wording on the top and bottom sections of the mast were removed in 1985, although the company continued to use these two sections with the respective wordings ORIGINAL (red section) and SERVICE PARTS (black section) until 1989.

Cast iron models Edit

  • 5 (cast iron) (1950—1957)
  • 5S (cast iron; suction carburetor) (1949—1957)
  • 6 (cast iron) (1952—1957)
  • 6S (cast iron; suction carburetor) (1949—1957)
  • 8 (cast iron) (1949—1957)
  • 9 (cast iron) (1949—1962)
  • 14 (cast iron) (1948—1963)
  • 19 (cast iron) (1957—1965)
  • 19D (cast iron) (1963—1965)
  • 23 (cast iron) (1949—1957)
  • 23A (cast iron) (1956—1965)
  • 23C (cast iron) (1961—1963)
  • 23D (cast iron) (1963—1965)
  • 191400 and 193400 (cast iron) (1965—1966)
  • 200400 (cast iron) (1966—1974)
  • 231400 (cast iron) (1965—1966)
  • 233400 (cast iron) (1965—1991)
  • 243400 (cast iron) (1965—1991)
  • 300420 (cast iron) (1966—1971)
  • 301430 (cast iron) (1971—1972)
  • 302430 (cast iron) (1972—1977)
  • 320420 (cast iron) (1969—1971)
  • 325430 (cast iron) (1971—1972)
  • 326430 (cast iron) (1972—1991)

Aluminum models Edit

  • 6B (horizontal shaft) (1955—1958)
  • 6BH (vertical shaft) (1953—1958)
  • 6BHS (vertical shaft; suction carburetor) (1953—1958)
  • 6BS (horizontal shaft; suction carburetor) (1955—1958)
  • 8B (horizontal shaft) (1955—1958)
  • 8BH (vertical shaft) (1953—1958)
  • 60100 (horizontal shaft) (1958—1991)
  • 80100 (horizontal shaft) (1958—1977)
  • 80200 (horizontal shaft) (1960—1991) (horizontal shaft) and 190700 (vertical shaft) (1969—1997)
  • 252410 (horizontal shaft) and 252700 (vertical shaft) (1977—1991)

Industrial/commercial modelsEdit

  • 81300 and 81400 (horizontal shaft) (1979—1985)
  • 82200 (horizontal shaft; Quiet Power) (1982—1994)
  • 82300 and 82400 (horizontal shaft; Quiet Power) (1982—1994)
  • 114900 (vertical shaft; Quiet Power) (1982—1991)
  • 131200 (horizontal shaft) (1979—1985)
  • 132200 (horizontal shaft; Quiet Power) (1982—1994)
  • 131900 (vertical shaft) (1979—1989)
  • 132900 (vertical shaft; Quiet Power) (1982—1995)
  • 192700 and 193700 (vertical shaft) (1983—1994)
  • 195400 (horizontal shaft) (1979—1994)
  • 221400 (horizontal shaft) (1979—1985)
  • 255400 (vertical shaft) (1984—1994)

Outboard motors Edit

  • AA0101-0001-01 (5hp 4-Cycle Outboard Motor) (2005—present)
  • AA0101-0020-01 (5hp 4-Cycle Camoflauge Outboard Motor) (2005—present)
  • AA0201-0001-01 (3 hp Electric Outboard Motor, Tiller Model) (2006—present)
  • AA0201-0001-01 (3 hp Electric Outboard Motor, Remote Model) (2006—present)

See also Edit

References / sourcesEdit

  1. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 12, pages 138-140
  2. Briggs & Stratton 1980 Update Seminar, form #MS-7865-10/79
  3. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, 1995, Chapter 12, page 149
  4. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, 1995, Chapter 12, pages 149-152
  5. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, 1995, Chapter 12, pages 153-154
  6. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 11, pages 120-121
  7. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 11, page 121
  8. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 11, page 122
  9. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 11, pages 121-122
  10. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 11, page 127
  11. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 12, pages 140-141
  12. The Legend of Briggs & Stratton by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, Chapter 12, pages 141-142

Further readingEdit

  • The Legend of Briggs & Stratton - Author: Jeffrey L. Rodengen (published by Write Stuff Syndicate, 1995)

Library of Congress Catalog #: 95-060793; ISBN No. 0-945903-11-1

  • John I. Beggs - Former Chairman

External linksEdit

To identify a B&S engine go to:

To identify B&S Cast iron models (Alpha Series engines) Please go to:



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