Briggs & Stratton is an American industrial company primarily involved in engineering, developing and manufacturing internal combustion reciprocating gas engines. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of air-cooled gasoline engines primarily for outdoor power equipment. Production averages 10 million engines per year as of April 2015.
Launched in 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the company is based today in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Briggs & Stratton engines are 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 aluminum engines in 1953. The aluminum engine was the perfect solution for the recently invented rotary lawnmower due to its lighter weight and lower cost.
The company started in 1908 as an informal partnership between Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold M. Stratton. S.F. Briggs was born in Watertown, South Dakota, and graduated from South Dakota State College (now South Dakota State University) in Brookings in 1907. The idea for his first product came from an upper-level engineering class project at SDSC. This first product was a six-cylinder, two-cycle engine, which Stephen Foster Briggs developed during his engineering courses at South Dakota State. After his graduation, he was eager to produce his engine and enter the rapidly expanding automobile industry. Bill Juneau, a coach at South Dakota State, knew of Briggs‘ ambition and the entrepreneurial interests of Harold M. Stratton, a successful grain merchant who had a farm next to Juneau’s farm, so he introduced the two. In 1922, their fledgling company set a record in the automotive industry, selling the Briggs & Stratton Flyer (the „Red Bud“) at record low prices of US$125-$150.
Eventually Briggs and Stratton settled on manufacturing automotive components and small gasoline engines. Briggs purchased an engine patent from A.O. Smith Company and began powering early washing machines and reel mowers as well as many other types of equipment. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1928.
During World War II, Briggs & Stratton produced generators for the war effort. Some pre-war 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 & Stratton’s successful growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Stephen Briggs went on to purchase Evinrude and Johnson Outboards and start the Outboard Marine Corporation. Frederick P. Stratton, Sr. (the son of Harold Stratton) served as Chairman of Briggs & Stratton until his death in 1962. Frederick P. Stratton, Jr. served as Chairman until his retirement in 2001.
In 1995, Briggs & Stratton sold the automotive component business. The resulting company is Strattec Security Corporation.
In 2000, 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, and Snapper, Inc, to the Briggs & Stratton Power Products line. Murray, Inc, one of its largest customers, collapsed owing the company $40 million, and to minimize the loss Briggs & Stratton purchased the name, marketing rights and product designs of that company. In 2008, Briggs & Stratton announced it would be acquiring the Victa Lawn Care business from GUD Holdings Limited Australia for A$23 million.
The Briggs & Stratton logo was always a masthead, but it has been changed several times over the course of the company’s 80-plus years.
Cast iron block, flathead, with Gravity feed float carb unless otherwise noted
Many variations and submodels were available on the basic series mentioned above. Some variations include – gear reducers (gears bolted to the back of the engine to slow the speed of the pto shaft) first offered in 1934, on the models A B K and Z later on I U N and WI. Designated by an „R“ after the basic model, then a 2, 4, or 6 to designate the reduction ratio. – high speed models (higher intake capacity to run higher rpm) available on the A B K M R and Z series. designated with an „H“ after the basic model. – light weight models (some aluminum parts to save weight) available on the A B I K R and Z series. Designated with an „L“ after the basic model -inboard marine engines (special base, no governor, thrust bearing on pto side) available on models A B H I K N and Z. Designated with an „M“ after the basic model. Some models also had forward neutral and reverse transmissions. These engines have an „T“ or „G“ after the „M“
Briggs & Stratton/I/tC 130g32-0059-h1
Briggs & Stratton builds over 9,000,000 engines in the USA each year. The company employs over 3,000 employees in six states. Milwaukee, WI, is home to the company’s headquarters and R&D center. Manufacturing plants are located in Poplar Bluff, MO; Murray, KY; Auburn, AL; Statesboro, GA; McDonough, GA; and Munnsville, NY. The company also has a proving grounds and testing facility located in Fort Pierce, FL.
Library of Congress Catalog #: 95-060793; ISBN 0-945903-11-1