Engine collecting brothers David and Steve Ford have some amazing engines in their collection. Among them are a 1906 6 HP Massey-Harris that David inherited and a 4 HP Rockford that Steve inherited. In both instances, the stories behind the engines are almost more interesting than the engines themselves.
Take the Rockford, for instance. “My grandfather purchased the engine in the 1960s for $125,” says David. “The guy he bought it from told him he had to have $100 for it, so Gramps went to pick it up. When he got there, the guy told him it was going to be $125! Gramps almost walked away from it, just on principle. Pissed him off good. But needless to say, he gave the guy $125. Sweet deal looking back, but $125 went a lot further back then.”
According to David, the family’s Rockford is one of only two known examples. A product of the Rockford Engine Works, Rockford, Ill., the engine features a sideshaft design with mounted governor near the cylinder head. As C.H. Wendel states in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, Emerson-Brantingham purchased the established firm of Rockford Engine Works on Sept. 14, 1912, and continued Rockford’s unique engine design in its early models. The Rockford also bears a striking resemblance to the Badger engines of the day manufactured by the Christensen Engineering Co., Milwaukee, Wis.
Which brings us to David’s latest addition to the family collection: “I bought the Christensen in 2007 at the June Coolspring show,” says David. “I have always wanted one of these type engines, whether it be an Independent Harvester, Rockford or Emerson. Now my brother Steve and I both have one of these beauties to play with.”
As David was told, the Christensen drove a concrete mixer somewhere in Massachusetts building a local dam. “It was a cosmetic mess when I got it, but it didn’t take too much to get it to where it is today,” says David. “I reconstructed the cart using wood instead of steel. It still has the original axles, wheels, gas tank and box. It runs as good as it looks and I can’t wait to show this and the Rockford side-by-side.”