1906 6 HP Imperial

imperial 1

John Raibley's 1906 6 HP Imperial marine engine.

Photo by Christian Williams

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Some engines have a story that’s almost more fascinating than the engine it’s attached to.

One such engine is John Raibley’s San Francisco-made 1906 6 HP Imperial gas engine. “This engine came from a 29-foot Monterey fishing boat,” says John of Raibley, Calif. “I bought it at Fisherman’s Wharf 40 years ago.”

As John explains it, the engine was literally being built during the 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco. The old man who owned the fishing boat was too old to start the engine and wanted something he could start by pushing a button.

“The old man gave it to the boat yard and they left the engine sitting on the dock,” says John. “I bought it from them for $150.”

It’s likely that the once discarded engine has long-outlived the old fisherman. “I haven’t done anything to it and it’s only required some very minor maintenance over the years,” says John.