“In 1955 my uncle took me to the Old Threshers Show held at the Whitby Farm, near Huntertown, Ind.,” says Dave Pence of Bluffton, Ind. “There was one Harvester Type M 1-1/2 HP engine on display and it was the only gas engine at the show.” Dave had seen similar engines but never really knew much about them, so he really looked it over. “That engine gave me the idea to start collecting,” he says.
Dave soon found out that there was an engine waiting to be claimed for his collection. “My dad’s uncle told me that my dad had left an old engine in the hog house on my grandmother’s farm – this was all before my time,” Dave says. After the show they went out to the farm and found the engine, a 1 HP Mogul. Dave’s dad had gotten it in about 1929 during an apprenticeship for General Electric and planned to convert it into an air compressor. At that time you had to use a hand pump to inflate a tire – there were no compressors. Either they were not available or very expensive. After seeing electric motors at General Electric, he saw how having an air compressor on the farm would be an advantage. “Dad had supposedly made parts to convert the engine, but I have never seen them,” says Dave. “The engine, crankcase and crankshaft were in the hog house; they must have been there about 30 years.”
Restoring the Mogul took some time. “I took everything home and every time my dad’s uncle would come over, he would have a piece or a part and we would figure out where it went and then put it on,” says Dave. One day he came over with a small wooden box holding all the remaining pieces except a brush for the magneto. He and Dave put it all together, and then Dave whittled a small wooden plug that fit in the magneto and took a brass strip out of a flashlight to function as the brush. The engine still runs well. “Today, you can buy those parts from suppliers listed in Gas Engine Magazine,” says Dave. “There was not much information available at that time, and you were lucky if someone overheard another person talking about engines and then remembered the conversation.
“Years ago an engine could be bought for $5 and now it costs $275 just to get a magneto rebuilt,” says Dave. In recent years, the value of his gas engines has increased to more than that of the building they’re housed in.
1915 1 HP Mogul
“This is the 1915 1 HP Mogul that my dad had wanted to turn into an air compressor,” says Dave. The first engine in Dave’s collection, the Mogul is original except for the paint colors. Initially they were light gray and for whatever reason his dad painted it green and red. The Mogul and the Titan were two series of engines made by International Harvester that were earlier than the Type M. The Mogul engine had a closed crankcase.
“Middletown Machine Works, Middletown, Ohio, built the Woodpecker engine serial number 2779K, in about 1920,” says Dave. “My uncle told me that the piston out of it was the same as a Model T Ford car. It was a simple, primitive engine, but it worked really well.”
After seeing the engine advertised in a sale bill, Dave recruited his uncle to buy it for him since he had to work. It was wintertime so by the time Dave got off work and went to pick up the engine it was dark. There was a David Bradley burr mill sitting beside the engine when he picked it up; Dave forgot about the burr mill until about 1961, when he saw it again at a junk dealer named Kenny Roop near Craigville, Ind. Kenny sold it to Dave for $1.50 along with some other stuff; Dave thought he probably paid only a quarter or so for it at the sale. Dave put the burr mill and the engine on a 2-by-4 wooden frame and took it to the Portland, Ind., tractor show and ground corn meal. “One year I ground almost 700 pounds of corn meal,” says Dave.
There’s no doubt as to the model of the engine. “The name ‘Woodpecker’ is right on the engine; you can still see the original decal,” says Dave. “If you cleaned and oiled this engine then hooked a battery to the high-tension coil, it would run. This engine was incredibly dependable – all I had to do was to turn the flywheel and away it went. I had a lot of fun with it.”
1918-1933 2-1/2 HP Sattley
The Sattley is 2-1/2 HP, probably built between 1918 and 1933, and was manufactured and sold by Montgomery Ward & Co. This engine is on original factory trucks and is complete, though it hasn’t run in many years. Dave originally had given this engine to another individual; when he passed away his family gave it back.
In the early 1960s Dave had an engine at the Bluffton, Ind., street fair when a guy approached him and started talking about this Sattley and a 6 HP Root & Vandervoort that he had. “I got them both for a very small amount of money,” says Dave. “I don’t remember if it was $15 each or $15 for the pair.” Either way, both were complete, original and in running condition.
The Sattley has been repainted with some poor quality paint and needs cleaning, but it is a good little engine. Dave has seen another engine like it, but it is rare – he has never seen another one on original factory trucks.
1903-1904 6 HP Root & Vandervoort
Dave’s 6 HP Root & Vandervoort has a patent date tag from 1903-1904. Its condition is very good; new rings have been installed and the cylinder bore has been cleaned. “I have the magneto and friction clutch for it but they are not installed right now,” says Dave. “This is a very heavy-built igniter engine. One interesting thing is that the name plate on this engine says, ‘built for John Deere.’ When I had the bearing covers off to look at the bearings they looked brand new and just as shiny as a mirror.”
Dave thinks the engine was used to run a buzz saw or some other light duty chore. The frame that was under it had old cast iron mower wheels and the wood was so deteriorated that when Dave put a jack under the engine he pulled the axles out and didn’t have to use a pry bar. “I just backed the trailer underneath and hooked a come-along on it and pulled the engine right on the trailer,” Dave says. “When I got home I cut some timbers to set it on and it is still there.”
Dave has the clutch for the Root & Vandervoort, and believes that he could probably get 10 times as much money for the clutch as he paid for the engine.
1-1/2 HP IHC Type M
“This Type M International Harvester engine came from a farm about a mile away from here,” says Dave. “I paid $27 for it at the auction.” The 1-1/2 HP was used to run a water pump and sat in a shed on the back of the house from the time it was new. It has a low-tension magneto and is complete and original. The original owner cut the handles off the frame so it would fit into the small space by the pump.
As the tri-fuel version of the Type M, it starts on gasoline, runs on kerosene and uses water to stop the pre-ignition. Everything is just the way it was when it was original, the only difference being a little die-cast piece on the throttle butterfly falling to pieces. A plain gasoline carburetor has one needle valve; this one has three: one for the gasoline, one for the kerosene and one for the water. “A rare engine that has never been touched since it came out of the factory,” said Dave. “I have four other gasoline-only International Harvester Type M engines.”
1919 6 HP Associated
The 6 HP Associated engine sits on factory trucks, has the magneto, and is igniter-fired, all complete and original. Dave acquired this engine from an ad in Gas Engine Magazine in the early 1960s. It came from a man in Hubbardsville, N.Y. “I bought the engine, then it was months and months before I got back to get it and winter was upon us by that time,” says Dave. “I bought a 1951 Chevy 2-ton truck just for the trip and went to New York, with a friend of mine, and got the engine. A totally impractical thing but it was quite an experience and an adventure that I have never forgotten.”
The original owner had purchased the engine in 1919, which was some time after they came on the market. It sat outside its whole life covered with some old tin. “The owner had purchased a new improved mixer so I have the one taken off as an extra,” says Dave. “I have never looked at them so I don’t know anything about the improvements that were made.”
The engine was cleaned and painted, and looked really great 30 years ago, but hardware store paint was used, which looks good for a while but does not hold up. Since the engine sat outside for years, the wood on the front rotted, so Dave made the box and the seat. He also replaced the rusted fuel tank. Dave displayed this engine in 1976 at the Wells County, Ind., Bicentennial Celebration.
3 HP Worthington
“The 3 HP Worthington has the original factory trucks,” says Dave. “My brother, Bob, originally bought this engine from Harper’s Saw Mill, at New Haven, Ind. Bob was standing there looking at it when John Harper came along, and Bob asked how much he wanted for the engine. Harper said, ‘Well, $3,’ and that was that.”
The distinguishing thing about a Worthington is the 5-spoke flywheel; almost everything else has a 6-spoke. A 3 HP is a little bit unusual, and it has a Webster oscillator magneto and an igniter with low-tension ignition. The way it is put together and the way it works make it an unusual and interesting engine.
10 HP 2-cycle Spang
A 10 HP 2-cycle engine built in Butler, Pa., this Spang hot-tube engine was used mostly in the oil fields. Dave’s brother, Bob, bought this engine in Ohio; it is very rare and quite unusual. Although it is complete and in fairly good condition, the Spang engine has not had any attention in a very long time. A hot-tube engine uses no spark; it has a hot spot in the cylinder and a torch was used to keep it hot. The torch for ignition burns as much fuel as the engine, thus they are very inefficient. Back then efficiency didn’t matter that much if it was a way of getting it to work.
1917 10 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type N
“A 10 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type N kerosene engine, built in 1917 and still in excellent shape,” says Dave, “but it is one of those things that I tore apart and never got back together.”
The engine came out of an old barn near Dave’s home. Years ago the original barn burned and when the new barn was built this engine was put in it to run a feed mill.
Don Voelker is a freelance photographer and writer in Ft. Wayne, Ind. View his work at www.voelkerphotography.com