When it comes to collecting antique gas engines, it’s good to have friends.
Jack Johnson of Ceresco, Neb., can speak to that truth firsthand, as he owes the acquisition of his 1915 5 HP Stickney engine to his good friend Ted Schultz of Waverly, Neb. “It’s always been my ambition to own a Stickney, and my good friend Ted found this engine right by the Canadian border in Minnesota,” Jack says. “It came from John Tissey in Crosby, N.D., and he had two of them,” Ted adds.
Jack took the greasier of the two Stickney engines, but that didn’t mean much when he got the Stickney home. “It was in really rough condition,” Jack says. “It had laid on its side in a hog lot for years and was badly seized.” Jack tried using conventional methods to loosen up the piston on the Stickney engine, but nothing worked until he heated things up. “I finally got so tired, I dug a big pit, filled it with charcoal, tipped the engine into the pit and cooked it for about half a day.”
Once the piston was free, Jack and Ted teamed up on the restoration. “Ted had a head cast for it, and he recast the guard and reproduced the igniter,” Jack says. “I was able to get it back together and I painted it.”
Jack also set the engine on a rare set of trucks. “These aren’t original Stickney trucks, but when the company was short on their original trucks, it would use these Bettendorf trucks – a hard set of trucks to find (these days).”
Anyone who’s seen a Stickney engine knows that they’re very interesting engines. “The carburetor, igniter, coil and the whole configuration of the engine is quite a bit different than other engines,” Jack says. “They’re kind of neat with the sight glass on the hopper and the fuel tank up above. It’s just a desirable engine.”
Ted also notes an affinity for Stickney engines because they’re hard to reproduce, thus ensuring a higher level of confidence when purchasing. “When you get into collecting gas engines, you always watch for reproductions,” Ted says. “When anything is cast all in one, like the hopper, cylinder and crankcase, you know that it’s going to be harder to reproduce. It would cost you more to reproduce that one part than probably four or five Stickneys together.”
The Charles A. Stickney Co. produced its engines in St. Paul, Minn., so it’s not surprising that this particular engine spent its service time a little farther north in Canada. What’s interesting, though, is the connection Ted has discovered between Stickney engines and the Chapman Engine & Mfg. Co. of Dundas, Ontario. “Stickney went out of business around 1909-1911, and Chapman started up about that time,” Ted says. “We think that all of the engineers bought up a lot of the stuff and took a lot of the blueprints up there, and that Chapman engines were combined with Stickney. Stickney put out a pump jack that says Stickney on it and Chapman put one out that’s identical. The parts are interchangeable. It’s not a coincidence – there is a direct connection between Stickney and Chapman.”
Contact Jack Johnson at 21305 N. 70th St., Ceresco, NE 68017-4298