Glenn Karch’s circa 1915 4 HP Kewanee Model 6C, on display at the 2005 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Content Tools

Digging for history

Thirty-two years ago, Glenn Karch, known to the old engine crowd as the keeper of the Hercules engine flame (a flame he fanned in his "Hercules Engine News" column in Gas Engine Magazine for 14 years!), happened across his first Kewanee engine.

Intrigued, Glenn started collecting Kewanee engines and literature until, likely much to his own surprise, he became something of an expert on the brand, if not at least the owner and curator of a significant collection of Kewanee engines and history.

Glenn first mentioned his interest in Kewanee to me two summers ago, as he was preparing to wind down his series on Hercules engines. He suggested there might be a good article in the offing once he had a chance to settle down and pull all his notes together.

Well, Glenn pulled his notes together all right, but instead of an article, he's self-published a book on Kewanee, portions of which are excerpted in this issue of GEM, beginning on page 8.

"I did it simply for the hobby," Glenn told me in his typically understated manner when I asked him about the book, adding, "I finally stumbled onto enough information to pick it up and go. I figured somebody needed to do it."

This isn't the first time Glenn's done something like this: If anything, it seems to be a bit of a habit for him.

Glenn launched his "Hercules Engine News" column after self-publishing a comprehensive history of the company, and in the process became an established authority on Hercules and its various cousins (Jaeger, Economy, etc.), and undoubtably contributed to increasing collector interest in the Hercules line of engines.

With any luck, Glenn's latest bit of historical engine research will have the same impact on interest in Kewanee engines.

Richard Backus