A sea of Stickney gas engines

Stickney collectors truly represented the whole engine line at the 2003 Butterfield Engine Show

A sea of blue engines

A sea of blue engines can only mean that Stickney was the featured make at the 2003 Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. Steam and Gas Engine Show.

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It's usually not possible to gaze at a sea of blue in Minnesota without visiting one of its 10,000 lakes, but that's exactly what happened at the 2003 Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. Steam and Gas Engine Show. In fact, 16 mostly deep sea-blue Stickney gas engines filled the void of the Butterfield show grounds and dazzled wave after wave of happy spectators with these grandiose engines built just after the turn of the century until the middle of the 1910s. If you attended the show but knew little about engines or Stickneys in particular, you might have thought Stickney engines were very common.

Follow the leader
The Stickney engine display was primarily due to the influence and work of Charlie Inman, Havre, Mont., who had recently completed a two-yearlong restoration of a circa 1913 20 HP Stickney, which is only one of three still known to exist. The buzz around Charlie's project had been building for those two years since he announced the project, and in 2003 the fruits of his labors paid off.

Pictures of his large Stickney project in its early phases of rescue and restoration had circulated at the 2001 Butterfield show. That year, he met several Stickney experts with whom he became good friends and who also helped him with his project. Over the next two years, his new-found friends at the Butterfield show followed Charlie's progress with great anticipation as he returned each year with the latest pictures that showed the progress on his project. When news broke that he'd be bringing his restored 20 HP Stickney to the 2003 Butterfield show, organizers decided something special should be planned for the occasion. In response, a number of regular Butterfield exhibitors decided to see if a complete line of Stickney gas engines could be brought together alongside Charlie's engine.

The result was a wide-ranging display of Stickney engines not seen very often. That's because at least one engine of every size - from the big 20 HP with 70-inch flywheels down to the much-smaller 1-3/4 HP -Stickney was represented. All of the Stickney engines - except two - were arranged in a single row from the smallest to largest. A few Stickney models even made it to the show.

A Stickney situation
The Stickney line-up at Butterfield could have resembled a scene from the original factory nearly a century ago that usually offered a selection of different-sized engines to meet the needs of individual customers. The Butterfield line-up also illustrated various features and designs of Stickney engines.

In addition to the more-common Stickney engines with cast iron water hoppers, several Stickney varieties sported tin water hoppers. Still others featured fuel pumps that pump gas to the carburetor at the front of the engine from a gas tank mounted at the rear of the engine. Some Stickneys featured the gas tank mounted above the water hopper, resulting in gas flowing to the carburetor below by force of gravity.

Most Stickney engines got ignition from a battery and a large coil mounted above the engine crankcase. One or two of the displayed Stickneys, however, sported a rear-mounted, gear-driven magneto and switch-plate setup.

A rare 6 HP Kenwood engine, produced by Stickney for Sears, Roebuck & Co., was on display and is owned by Forrest Pense of Hastings, Neb. While the Kenwood engine resembles the Stickney engines in many ways, it has some slightly altered features that make it unique.

Charlie Inman's 20 HP Stickney was understandably impressive, but the talk of the show was the ease with which his 13-year-old grandson Marcus Inman started the massive engine. After priming it, he rolled the engine backward until it stopped against the compression in the cylinder. Then he tripped the igniter and caused the engine to fire and start with a minimal amount of effort.

Fred Reetz regularly exhibits several Stickney engines at the Butterfield show, but this was the first time he displayed his 10, 13 and 16 HP Stickney engines with tin water hoppers. His 10 HP engine, built in 1909, was the oldest Stickney on display, and it includes some of the earliest features.

Dave Bestland displayed several immaculately restored engines and David Harder, a resident of Butterfield and a member of the Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. board of directors, brought his 3 HP Stickney to the show for the first time. Many others also brought their Stickney engines to round out the complete line of engine sizes Stickney built.

The rest of the story
The Butterfield show also had its usual display of hundreds of other engines, ranging from small models to the huge oil field engines shown. Other rare engines perennial to the Butterfield show included a Kansas City Lightening, an inverted Hart-Parr, a Flour City engine built by Kinnard-Haines Co. in Minneapolis, Minn., and many more.

As usual, the Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. put on a wonderful show even though the very hot temperatures may have caused the crowds to be a bit smaller than normal. A special feature for 2003 was the Butterfield exhibitor's plaque, which featured Charlie's 20 HP Stickney. Special thanks to all those in the Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. who make the show the success it is every year, and also to the Stickney owners who displayed their engines.

The Stickney 16
Information on the engines that made it to Butterfield

HP

Serial No.

Make/Model

Date Sold

Owner

From

1-3/4

16705

Gravity feed model

Post 1913*

Fred Reetz

 

1-3/4

22438

Gravity feed model

Post 1913*

Bob Ludolph

 

3

 

Gravity feed model

 

David Harder

Butterfield, Minn.

3

12208

Fuel pump model

1912

Fred Reetz

 

3

17852

Fuel pump model

Post 1913*

Paul Johnson

Brookings, S.D.

3

22673

Fuel pump model, magneto

Post 1913* 

Dave Bestland 

 

5

18902

Fuel pump model, magneto

Post 1913*

Dave Bestland

Granite Falls, Minn. 

5

20281

Fuel pump model

Post 1913*

Vernon Ellingson

Wood Lack, Minn.

5

23717

Fuel pump model

Post 1913*

Rick Barber

Luverne, Minn.

6

 

Kenwood Stickney, fuel pump model

1908

Forrest Pense

Hastings, Neb.

7

21196

Fuel pump model

Post 1913*

Tom and Jeff Wahl Fairfax Station, Va.

10

4273

Tin hopper gravity feed model

1909

Fred Reetz

 

10

20824

Fuel pump model

Post 1913*

Bob Ludolph

Pipestone, Minn.

13

13549

Tin hopper, fuel pump model

1913

Fred Reetz

  

16

14490

Tin hopper, gravity feed model

1913

Fred Reetz

Alpha, Minn.

20

23943

Fuel pump model

1916

Charlie Inman

Havre, Mont.

* Post 1913: Production dates for Stickney engines after 1913 aren't certain. Although the company stopped making engines in 1913, it's believed that until 1920 the company continued putting engines together from leftover inventory, stamping the serial number when the engine was sold.

A personal attraction
Butterfield is my favorite show and offers a little bit of something for everyone. The show grounds are among the best, located near a small lake and include a large area with many shade trees that provide an ideal area for gas engine exhibitors and other small displays.

Personally, I don't think I've ever seen nicer show grounds, but I admit I'm a little biased. My grandpa Harvey Wahl was an original exhibitor at the Butterfield show in 1967, and I've been attending and exhibiting since I was a small child. In 2003, it was extra special for my dad and me to show our 7 HP Stickney among the other Stickney engines.

This year, not as many Stickney engines will make it to the Butterfield show, but there are always at least five or six on display. I hope to see everyone at the 2004 Butterfield show held on Aug. 21-22.

Those attending this year or anytime in the future should stop and say hello at the Harvey Wahl family collection of gas engines, which are displayed near the center of the gas engine area.

Contact engine enthusiast Jeff Wahl at: jeffwahl24@aol.comwww.wahlengines.com