Gas Engine Blogs >

The Cultivator
Thoughts from the editor.

Times They are a Changin’

Photo by Unsplash/Jonathan Borba 

Inventor Eli Whitney created the first manual milling machine in the early 1800s after the U.S. government asked him to invent a better way to produce mass quantities of firearms. Prior to his invention, highly skilled machinists (using mostly files as production tools) were required to create intricate metal pieces. This process took a great deal of time, and few people were qualified. 

In the 1940s, John T. Parsons refined the manual milling machine into a precision system using data in a reference system. 

Fast forward to the present, and enter the CNC (computer numerical control) milling machine. With accurate programming data and training, machinists can use this automated process to produce exceptionally precise parts with very little wait time. The hundreds of meticulously designed, individual parts in a complex mill machine lend to its accuracy.  

Change is inevitable — often unwanted — and we forget about the pieces of progress that get the wheels turning towards modern marvels and now help us build our world. Machines that quickly duplicate irreplaceable parts and make engine restorations possible. You can see the final piece of the Jacobsen Twin restoration puzzle, made possible with access to a machinist who quickly fabricated new wrist pins. 

Change also brings the creation of equipment to test and educate, such as those used in Dr. David Cave’s explanation of low-tension ignition systems

The innovation of the internet brought many possibilities. There are things about excessive access that I find to be undesirable and overwhelming, but I can also appreciate the ease it brings to life.  We can connect quickly with one another, through email and messaging. We are able to contact experts, post messages to forums seeking guidance, and find or special order parts that are rare or need to be fabricated. It seems the digital world has become commonplace, even in the most vintage of hobbies. 

Sometimes change is thrust upon us, and we cope accordingly. The phrase “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. COVID-19 has temporarily broken the way we do things. Personal interactions in the gas engine community have been put on pause. With the cancellation of shows and fairs, enthusiasts are using the modern resources available to respond with a new way to connect and share their successes.  This comes with the first Coolspring Power Museum June 2020 virtual show. Click here to enjoy this unique compilation. Another response to current limitations can be seen in results of a Pre ‘30s, online-only auction.

In addition, you will notice throughout this issue a new look to our pages brought about by a change to our team in the form of a new artist — same great content with some new visual twists. 

I’d love to hear your stories of change relating to gas engines, both good and bad. Send pictures and stories of how something that was seemingly lost to the past was brought back to life, or share how being an enthusiast has changed you.  

Christine Stoner

2020 New Normal

Photo by Tammy Gann/Unsplash

For many of us, life’s focus has shifted a great deal recently, and we are collectively waking up to explore our new normal. The world around us is changing and adapting to conditions we never expected. Entering into this time, I found myself immediately grateful for the vast array of interests my family has. Interests and hobbies that aren’t dependent on socializing or public outtings, and an abundance of hard work waiting to be done to improve our home and cultivate the talents within us.

It’s a perfect time to improve on existing skills or learn something new entirely. Tackle that reading you have been putting off for a slow day or spend extra time learning how something works (see Page 8 to learn about a Weidenhoff 818 magnet charger).

That’s not to say, many things cannot be replaced. Public events such as engine shows and fairs, swap meets and auctions, and dining out — where there aren’t dirty dishes or cleanup following the meal. I’m sure you have your list of things you have been missing. Someday those things will resume and be more appreciated.

To make the best of this extra time, it seems staying busy at home and distracted from the barrage of upsetting world news works best for us. We are spending our time wisely, tying up loose ends that were left undone previously with the excuse “there just isn’t enough time.” The shift to warmer weather is always a busy time for us, with the landscape (and weeds) unfurling, our flock of chickens needing tended to, and our large family garden plot needing worked and harvested. Add to that list the never ending repairs life tends to throw our way — a cracked hose on the truck, a bent deck and dull blades on the riding mower, a broken roost bar in the chicken coop, and a drain pump in the washer no longer doing its job. These things were once frustrations but now welcome new puzzles offering both distraction and life lessons that need to be researched and solved.

Having hobbies, responsibilities and the DIY gene keeps us moving forward — even if it seems life is temporarily standing still. When things slow down and you have extra time on your hands, it’s nice to have a few unfinished projects to turn to.

When all else fails, retreat to the garage, put on your favorite tunes and tidy up the ol’ work bench. For me, there’s something truly therapeutic about organizing my tools and sorting through extra hardware. Knowing what you have and where to find it can make a restoration or repair go much more smoothly. If you suffer from sharing a work space, as I do, I highly recommend not moving Mama’s power tools if you want to be fed in the near future.

In this issue, we share stories about engines in various stages of repair — from a rusty barn find to the second installment in an ongoing Jacobsen restoration, as well a look revisiting an exemplary Coolspring Power Museum piece. What tinkering have you been doing to pass the time and fuel your gas engine enthusiasm? Share your stories and pictures with us! 

—Christine Stoner

Sentimental Motives

Photo by Unsplash/ Wonderlane

Why seek community with fellow enthusiasts? To connect with like-minded people. To discover inspiration. To share knowledge. To discover others who are overcoming similar challenges and reaching their restoration goal — finding ways to replace the irreplaceable or getting engines to run that were seemingly unrepairable. Gas Engine Magazine is shared victories. It’s historical and technical, as well as wistful and hopeful. It’s telling stories that convey it is possible to hold on to a piece of that happiness from a former place and time, and restore it for generations to come to discover and love. It’s a way to go back to a simpler time, to an irrecoverable mindset that lives on only in memories. defines nostalgia as “a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place of time.” Nostalgia is behind or much of who we are. Our cherished experiences drive our preferences and behaviors, seemingly out of the blue. Time spent watching over my grandfather’s shoulder — who, in my opinion, could fix anything — led to me taking apart anything I could get my hands on as a child. Old VCRs, lamps, baby monitors, and cassette players — nothing with multiple parts was safe from my tiny fingers and a screwdriver or pliers. Unfortunately, the life-cycle of these tired appliances ended in a box hidden in my closet, where the original dream of building a robot died with them. My grandfather planted the seeds of mechanical curiosity in me, and he is also why my tools will never be organized enough.

The memory of watching my father, when I was young, effortlessly drive nails into boards with great precision will always cross my mind whenever I consider if a crooked nail is worth pulling and redoing correctly. The answer is always yes. My father is the reason behind my intense determination and, at times, my maddening perfectionism.

Sharing triumphs and trials at antique engine shows, making friends and connections along the way, gives fellow enthusiasts the confidence to take on tough projects and reclaim a bit of the past for themselves. It’s a community spurred by nostalgia, helping each other along the way.  

Nostalgia builds our goals. My inquisitiveness and appreciation for all things mechanical are firmly rooted in my past and relationships throughout the years. Think about the why behind what drives you. The why behind searching for a specific engine or a challenging restoration you refuse to give up on. The why behind the joy of unearthing an engine buried in a barn or basement. The why behind driving hundreds of miles to pick up something others would consider rusted or broken. The why behind wanting to hold onto a rare piece of history. Is it nostalgia, perhaps?

Happily, my peculiar busted-knuckle and bookworm path has led me to being a part of this publication. I am thrilled to take on this challenging role. I look forward to hearing from many of you and helping to build this enthusiast community through stories of accomplishment and sentimental connection. Together, we can work to preserve a little history, in the name of nostalgia.   

Christine Stoner

Back to My Roots and Looking Forward

back to roots

Longtime readers of Gas Engine Magazine might recognize the name at the end of this column. For those who don’t, I was the assistant editor of GEM from 2007 to 2011 before moving on to other positions within Ogden Publications.

You’re reading my words today because longtime editor Richard Backus has decided to scale back his direct involvement with GEM in order to focus on his successful auto repair shop in Lawrence, Kansas. While we’ll certainly miss working with Richard on a daily basis, he’ll still be offering his expertise as a contributing editor when time allows.

The good news is that we’ve already found the next day-to-day editor of GEM, but I don’t want to steal their thunder. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be meeting them in this space in the next issue. In the meantime, I’m returning to my roots by acting as interim editor. It’s been a fun walk down memory lane pulling together this issue, and it also offers me the opportunity to share my vision for GEM going forward.

GEM was my first experience working on a magazine. I learned a lot from those first four years, not just about putting a magazine together, but how to understand its audience and connect with readers. I learned that exposing my lack of technical knowledge wasn’t a liability, but rather an opportunity for others to share their expertise by teaching me, which many did graciously. In short, I learned that the best thing I could do as an editor of this magazine was simply be a conduit for people to tell their stories.

Nine years later, I’m writing this column as the new Editorial Director of Ogden Publications. In addition to GEM, I’m now in charge of setting the big-picture strategy for the other eight magazines in the Ogden family as well as guiding a talented team of 22 editors. A big part of my job these days is making sure I’m putting the right people in the best position to help others share their stories through our magazines. As that relates to GEM, I’m very excited to work with the incoming editor and help them learn what I learned 12 years ago – that GEM readers are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable people you’ll ever meet. Every one of you has a great story to share with others in this fascinating hobby and it’s a pleasure for us to help you do that.

To that end, you’re going to see more of us at shows this year, taking photos and talking with you about your engines. We’ll also be investing more in the magazine by offering remuneration for articles. We’ve always depended on you – the reader – to keep this magazine interesting and now we’ll be able to offer you a token of our appreciation for sharing your time and expertise with us. So please – keep those story ideas coming!

In the short term, please bear with us as we bring the new editor up to speed and try out some new ideas to breathe fresh life into the magazine. As always, please let us know how we’re doing: what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to see more or less of.

Above all, thanks so much for reading. Here’s to many more years of Gas Engine Magazine!

Celebrating the Coolspring Power Museum

2020 marks the 35th anniversary of the Coolspring Power Museum in Coolspring, Pennsylvania. Since its founding in 1985, the Coolspring Power Museum has gone from being a relatively small and obscure collection of pioneering engines to the largest and most important museum of early gas engine technology in the world.

That’s not just hyperbole. The “museum” — it’s really more of a living trust — counts some 275 engines among its collection, with perhaps 3/4 of those in running condition. Most of the engines are larger, industrial-type units, including giants like a 1925 175hp Otto, the largest single-cylinder, twin-flywheel engine ever made, featuring a massive 21-inch bore and 30-inch stroke.

Thanks to an active staff of volunteers and officers, the not-for-profit museum has over the years continuously added to the collection, acquiring “new” engines and building new structures to house them as necessity demands. Just recently, the museum was gifted one of the most historically important engines ever made, a 1903 M.A.N. Air Blast Injection diesel and the oldest operational diesel engine in the world.

Built in Augsburg, Germany, in 1903, it spent the early part of its life in the North Sea on the island of Helgoland, where it powered an elevator. By the 1920s air blast injection was obsolete and the engine was taken out of service, but it was spared being scrapped when it was bought by Henry Ford. Ford had an early appreciation for pioneering engines and industrial machinery, and placed the engine in his museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The engine eventually passed through several private collections before being donated to Coolspring.

With the acquisition of the M.A.N. engine, Coolspring is undertaking an expansion project to create a new building to house the engine, along with several others. The planned building will be period correct and similar to what would have been built in Germany to house the engine back in 1903. The other planned air blast injection engines include a 400hp, overhead camshaft Busch-Sulzer, a 200hp Snow and a DeLaVergne engine that has been converted from air blast injection.

To drive funding for the planned expansion, Coolspring is seeking charitable, tax-deductible donations. There are several ways to help, including donating to the museum’s GoFundMe account and through the purchase of laser-engraved 8-inch by 8-inch donor bricks, which will be used in the building’s construction. Contributors opting to purchase bricks (which will be sold in various denominations) will be able to have the bricks engraved with up to six lines of text.

This is an important and worthy endeavor, one that will add to the museum’s already incredible collection of vintage internal combustion engines and help the museum further preserve the history of these important engines. We encourage everyone in the old iron hobby to consider making a donation, large or small, to help the Coolspring Power Museum continue its mission of preserving the history of early internal combustion engines. You can learn more by going to the museum’s website.

Richard Backus

Show Photos and the Past and Present

The 2019 show season is effectively over, making this the time for me to put out my annual reminder to readers to send in photographs of the engines you displayed and the shows you attended in 2019. Although some areas of the country were plagued by rain (Portland doesn’t count; it rains there for the show every year!), by and large, it sounds like most of you got to spend more than a few weekends hanging out with like-minded old engine fans, sharing your engines and learning about engines you’ve rarely or never seen.

That last point reminds me of a particular interest I have of late, namely, learning more about engines that were adapted by their makers – or a third party – to configurations never considered when they were first designed. Examples include the 2-cylinder (one for power and the other for the compressor) Schramm compressor engine and Associated’s 2-cylinder tractor-turned stationary engine.

Humans are nothing if not curious, and various inventive souls applied engines – and tractors – to all manner of chores their original designers never considered. The Fordson tractor is a perfect example of this, a machine modified and adapted from its original farm focus to jobs ranging from toboggan duty in the snow to road rolling and crawler applications. Conversely, Ford’s Model T was adapted to tractor duty – and all sorts of other applications never imagined by Henry Ford. Moving forward, I’m hoping to collect images and examples of this type of ingenuity as applied to gas engines, to share here in the pages of GEM. If you know of interesting applications you’d like to share – and if you have show pictures from 2019 to share – please email me at or write to me at 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.

As promised last issue, where we shared the fruits of young engine enthusiast Dana Kehoe’s efforts restoring a 1910 1-3/4hp air-cooled Galloway, this issue features yet another restoration by a young enthusiast. Emma Riese was only 14 when she launched into the restoration of her late father’s 1921 2hp Waterloo Boy, but two years and many hours of work later, the engine is finished, and it’s superb.

Like Dana, Emma was mentored by engine restorer and enthusiast Jim Faith, who is acting on his conviction of the immense value kids receive by applying themselves to focused mechanical tasks such as the restoration of vintage engines. Those of us already bitten by the bug know he’s right, of course, but convincing a younger generation reared on bits and bytes that pistons and flywheels are cool is nothing if not a challenge. One, it seems, that Jim has taken on with great resolve.

After several such restorations, Jim knows the difference these projects can make in a young person’s perspective, broadening it in ways they never could have imagined. It’s interesting to think how much we yet have to learn from the past, and in ways we haven’t considered – and that vintage gas engines could be a vital link in the process.

Richard Backus

New Collectors, Old Collections

Just when it starts feeling like the pool of young aspirants to the old iron hobby is drying up, along comes budding engine restoration hobbyist Dana Kehoe. Currently studying automotive technology at the University of Northwestern Ohio, 20-year-old Dana stands as a refreshing reminder that with some encouragement, there are plenty of young enthusiasts out there waiting to be pulled into the old engine hobby.

In fact, Dana’s been involved with engines for some time. Mentored by his uncle Jim Faith, Dana first got a 1-1/2hp John Deere E running, followed by his first full restoration when he was just 15, a 1908 2-1/4hp hopper-cooled Galloway, the story of which we featured in the February/March 2016 issue. Recently, Dana finished his second restoration, a 1910 1-3/4hp air-cooled Galloway, a bookend if you will to the 1908 hopper-cooled Galloway he restored in 2015. And like many an engine man he found himself in the shop working with more than just his engine to fettle, taking on the challenge of simultaneously restoring family friend Todd Hasse’s almost identical air-cooled Galloway. The results speak for themselves, as you can see reading the story of Dana’s restorations.

Dana’s abiding interest in vintage engines would never have reached its current level without encouragement and dedicated interest from an experienced engine man like his uncle. And Jim Faith’s interest in mentoring doesn’t stop with nephew Dana, as he recently helped 15-year-old Emma Riese restore a 2hp Waterloo Boy as a 4-H project. Emma’s father, Brian Riese, had bought the engine as a project for his wife, but after Brian passed away Jim got Emma involved in restoring the engine. We’ll share the results of Emma’s excellent restoration in the next issue; the finished Waterloo Boy is simply beautiful.

Most of us keep an eye out for interesting engine auctions, and Nov. 6, 2019, kicks off what’s certain to be the engine sale of the year, if not the decade, with the first of two auctions of the 200-plus engine collection of Kenny and Wendy Wolf. Famous in the vintage engine circle, Kenny and Wendy are no ordinary collectors. For years, the husband and wife team has focused on finding and owning some of the finest, rarest engines in the world, a fact amply illustrated in the collection going to auction, which includes engines from Brown & Cochran, Goold, Shapley & Muir, Springfield, Otto, Lambert, Geiser and more.

Truly extraordinary, the Wolf collection represents the fruits of some 50 years of engine collecting and trading. The Wolfs have never been slow to sell or trade an engine so they might acquire one they’ve never owned or that simply caught their eye.

“If I still had every engine that I ever sold, it would cover 50 acres,” Kenny said in an article that ran in the June 2009 issue of Farm Collector. The first auction will be held Nov. 6, 2019, in Peru, Indiana, with a second scheduled for the spring of 2020. Turn to the inside front cover for auction details.

- Richard Backus


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Facebook YouTube