P.O. Box 42, New Tripoli, Pennsylvania 18066
Located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is the home and farm of Sam Kriebel, engine enthusiast. Sam has seriously collected engines for more than 30 years and has acquired a diverse group of manufacturers, including rare local limited production makes. However, Sam's pride and joy is not a local name, but rather one manufactured in Batavia, Illinois. It is a 5 HP Challenge, serial #39, which was installed new on the farm on December 19, 1902.
Sam's grandfather, Isaac Kriebel, purchased this engine from the local dealer Jacob L. Freed in Lansdale, Pennsylvania (now an auto dealer). Sam still has the original bill of sale showing the cost of $300.00 less 10% for cash. The bill of sale also includes the various hardware and line shaft to install the engine in a separate building.
Sam recalls that the engine's main use was for pumping water on the farm, along with the various other chores, such as wood sawing, feed grinding, corn shelling, bag winch and thrashing in the barn. He remembers, as a youngster, doing more than one chore at a time, saying 'If you needed to pump water, you didn't waste the power, you also went upstairs and shelled corn. The object of the engine was to make life easier on the farm.' In the teens, a second Challenge was added to the power building, mainly for the thrasher. It was an 8 HP, which unfortunately was scrapped in the 1940s during the war. Sam says men came around to farms on scrap drives during the war years and wanted old machines. If you didn't give up an old machine like the Challenge, they gave you dirty looks and called you unpatriotic.
One afternoon the 5 HP came very close to becoming scrap. Sam had picked up the sledge hammer and had given the flywheels a couple of smacks, but before they broke up, he was interrupted by his father who called him away to milk cows. Fortunately, no one ever did get back to scrapping the old machine.
In the early '30s a relatively more modern higher speed magneto ignition Fairbanks-Morse was purchased to pump water. The old 5 HP basically sat idle and unused for thirty years until about 1960 when Sam's family picked up interest in working with these older machines. Fortunately, between 1930 and 1960 the 5 HP had been turned over and oiled, thus staying in good mechanical condition as it is today. It starts only with the kick of a flywheel on a good battery.