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The Cultivator

Thoughts from the editor.


Making Old Engine Connections and a Book Review

I’m constantly intrigued by how certain threads of thought and subject come together, with no apparent forethought. It seems to happen a lot in the vintage gas engine world, as some of the articles in this issue underscore.

Some months back, I contacted collector and restorer Keith Kinney after stumbling across some photos of Keith’s fabulous 4 hp 1907 Atlas King Bee horizontal engine. I’d taken the photos way back in 2010, at the Badger Steam & Gas Engine Club show in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and I couldn’t believe I’d never shared Keith’s engine with GEM readers. A beautiful, finely crafted engine, it’s also important for formerly belonging to noted engine collector and Hercules Gas Engine Co. historian Glenn Karch, who passed away in 2009. One of the most unassuming and intelligent individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, Glenn’s contributions to the hobby and GEM were immense. When Keith mentioned he had an article written by Glenn I might find interesting, a history of Atlas engines never published, there was little question but that we had to run Glenn’s piece, with Keith’s engine backing it up. Read the story in Atlas Engines.

The joining thread to this was the arrival of Peter Rooke’s latest engine restoration project, a circa-1923 Hercules Economy Model F. Although Peter resides in England, he has a particular interest in American engines, as his restoration series show. American engines Peter has restored have included brands such as IHC; Amanco; Bull Dog; Alamo; Fairbanks, Morse & Co.; and Baker. That Peter would restore a Hercules is no surprise, but that his article on the beginning of its restoration should coincide with the chance to share one of Glenn’s unpublished works is. Read Peter’s article here: Hercules Gas Engine Restoration.

Another thread in this issue wraps around Raymond G. Scholl’s memories of the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Show in Portland, Indiana. Raymond didn’t make it to the first show, in 1966, but since 1974 he’s tried to make every show he can. His memories of Portland are a rich reminder of what the Tri-State show means to our hobby, and his article came in as we were thinking about the importance of this year’s show, the 50th annual holding of what’s arguably become the largest, most important show of its type in the U.S. Raymond’s recollections begin in Portland Memories: The Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Show.

Finally, harkening back to my ramblings in the last issue, as promised we have a review of Jack Alexander’s new book, The Regan Vapor Engine: The Beginning of California’s Gas Engine Industry. Jack is a prolific researcher in the field of early West Coast engines, tractors and agricultural implements, and has over the years produced a number of important works, including the highly recommended The First American Farm Tractors and Steam Power on California Roads and Farms, 1858-1911.

Richard Backus, Editor-in-Chief
Email: rbackus@gasenginemagazine.com