West Virginia Weber: A Great Find

Weber engine

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3423 Younger Drive, Charleston, West Virginia 25306

This story began ten years ago when a friend told me about two old flywheels sticking out of an old pump house along side of a busy interstate highway one-quarter mile outside the city limits of Charleston, West Virginia. I went to take a look for myself; sure enough, the pump house contained a Weber 8 HP gasoline sideshaft engine. A closer look revealed a brass tag that read 'Weber Gas and Gasoline Engine Builders, Kansas City, Missouri, patent date January 6, 1891, Serial # 9209, Shop # 5607.' It was hooked to a Myers three inch bulldozer pump, patent date April 23, 1909. Both units were very rusty and completely stuck, but every piece right down to the old buzz coil was there. The owner was easy to find but after listening to his story, I had very little hope of acquiring the engine. The way he told the story, the engine and pump were used to supply water to a dairy farm 500 feet up the mountain from where the pump house stood. It was put in use about 1936 and hadn't been used since his brother died in 1943 and the dairy farm was closed.

I continued to check on the engine about every year, with no Success. The last time I went to visit the gentleman he wasn't home. I went next door and had a lengthy conversation with his sister. She understood how interested I seemed about the engine, but explained how her brother liked to hold on to old keepsakes. I left my telephone number in hopes he would change his mind. A couple of years went by without a word. This past January the sister called with news that her brother had died from injuries received as a result of an automobile accident. She indicated that if I was still interested in the engine, I could call another sister who was in charge of the estate. I called immediately. She was very receptive but emphasized the estate attorney must grant permission before I could go on the property. She was to call and let me know. Days went by without receiving a call. Every time the telephone rang I wondered if this could be her calling. But no luck. Now I figured I would have to try my luck at the estate sale. One evening about 10:30 P.M. the sister called. She told me I had permission to get the engine but must tear down the shed and remove all the junk. The following morning I removed the pump and engine and secured them in my garage by nightfall. While I was cranking up the Weber, my son strolled by and offered his help. I said, 'Sure, crank her a little.' Before I knew what was happening a large puff of smoke emerged from the carb. My son was running around the house with his hair, eyebrows and mustache singed. I'll admit 1 was a little shaky, but the wife was furious, reminding me that I was going to kill myself or someone else. Later that day a couple of engine buffs came by and together we had the Weber purring like a kitten using the same old buzz coil I found in the shed.

For all you serious collectors, there are still old rusty irons right under your noses, if you look.