Historic Theater Engine-30 HP Foos

Martha Warren

Owner Martha Warren and her pension money at work.

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1917 Geffs Avenue, Findlay, Ohio 45840  

One Saturday morning, in the fall of 1984, I was working on one of my dad's engines, a 6HP Gray, in the garage. A friend of mine, the Rev. Terry Steinhauer of Fostoria stopped by. He knew of an engine that was by far larger than any of the engines that my dad and I owned. He had visited an old theater in Fostoria, Ohio, that the church had considered buying and renovating. The engine was used for generating power to light the stage.

Naturally, he had our interest piqued, so we took a trip over to see this engine. The 1907 Foos engine was standing in 20 inches of water in the basement of the theater. We knew we just had to have that engine. It took over two years and three different owners before we were allowed to purchase the engine.

We had to go to the engineering department of Fostoria to purchase a bond and a permit which enabled us to dig up the alley that ran parallel of the theater.

With a crew of my uncle, Ford Warren and his equipment, Max Treft, Ed Dymond, Gerald Warren, Fred Aller and me, we set to work. First we pumped the water out of the basement and disassembled the engine. Then we opened up the alley and the wall of the theater for the removal of the engine which weighed 11,185 pounds. Each flywheel weighed 1? tons. All of this work was done manually as we could not get power equipment down into the basement. Just to remove the engine after disassembling it, took a total of 4 hours. Then we had to repair the wall and the alley back to their original condition. The journey back to Findlay was 15 miles and then the real work began.  

We disassembled the smaller pieces for repairing and sandblasting. All total it took 5 months of many hours and a lot of hard work to get our prize engine ready for her debut. Her first showing was at a pre-harvest festival in Mt. Cory, Ohio, July 1987.

The first big engine show she went to was the Northwest Ohio Antique Steam and Gas Engine Show in Findlay.

Hundreds of people attended the show to see her in action after reading an article about her in our local newspaper. We were invited to attend the Portland Gas Engine Show in Portland, Indiana. We were one of the main attractions and have been invited to return next August.