Young Iron: Dray Dillard

Dray Dillard hasn’t been collecting hit-and-miss engines for long, but he’s off to a good start.

Young Iron Dray Dillard

15-year-old Dray Dillard with his engines.

Photo Courtesy Dray Dillard

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Take a quick glance at the exhibitors and attendees at gas engine shows, and it’s easy to think that this is an older person’s hobby. But take a closer look and you’ll find a growing number of younger enthusiasts, such as Dray Dillard, collector of hit-or-miss engines. You’ll meet him, and others, in Young Iron.

Q: How long have you been collecting gas engines?
A: Two years.

Q: What attracted you to the hobby?
A: I was interested in steam tractors and went to the Antique Tractor and Engine Show at Scott, Ark., around age 7. They had a 1917 Geiser Peerless and a 1912 Case steam tractor. Then I saw some hit-and-miss engines and asked questions on what they were and what they were used for. I have been hooked ever since!

Q: Who else in your family collects engines?
A: No family members, but I have a friend named Mr. Richard Shannon who has 16 engines and helps me get engines and fix them up. I met him at the Scott Show.

Q: What engines do you have in your collection?
A: All of my engines were given to me by Mr. Shannon: My first engine was a Wilesco D-10 toy steam engine. My second is a 1936 Maytag Model 92 3/4 HP that was given to me on Christmas Day 2011. My third engine is is a very rare, approximately 1912 1-1/2 HP hopper-cooled Termatt & Monahan hit-and-miss engine that was brought to me right before Christmas 2012.

Q: What is your favorite engine in your collection?
A: My Termatt & Monahan engine because it is the rarest engine in my collection and it is simple but unusual in design.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: None right now, but I might get an antique walk-behind garden tractor that is just 2 miles from my house that needs restored.

Q: Which shows do you normally attend each year? What show haven’t you been to yet that you’d like to see one day?
A: I attend the Scott, Ark., Antique Tractor and Engine Show. I would like to go to the Coolspring Power Museum show or the Portland, Ind., show.

Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve come across in the hobby?
A: The biggest obstacles are money and the distance Mr. Shannon lives from me. I’ve had the Termatt & Monahan engine try to run away three different times because of latch-out failures; it would just take off! The Maytag got full of carbon and wouldn’t run so we got them fixed. All we had to do to the Termatt & Monahan was melt down some broken babbitt bearing and build up the latch-out. Now it runs like a clock and coasts for eight seconds between fires, and the Maytag is running great. I couldn’t ask for more!

Q: What are your favorite engines and why?
A: I like Bates & Edmonds verticals, Bull Dog engines, and any kind of sideshaft or vertical flyball governor engines like Kruger Atlas, King Bee or Alamo Walking Beam engines. I also like any kind of rare, unusual engines because I love watching the mechanical parts and figuring out how it works.

Young Iron is looking for gas engine collectors, age 35 and younger. If you or someone you know would like to be profiled, please contact Associate Editor Beth Beavers: (800) 682-4704 or