One Collector’s Root & Vandervoort Collection

A look at two of David Miller’s favorite Root & Vandervoort engines


| October/November 2011



1913 12 HP engine

David Miller, Waverly, Neb., has a place in his heart for Root & Vandervoort engines. One of the centerpieces in his collection is a 1913 12 HP engine.

There are a lot of reasons antique engine collectors choose specific engines to collect. Some are sentimental, like David Miller of Waverly, Neb., who collects Root & Vandervoort engines. “My first good engine was a 2 HP Root & Vandervoort and I really liked it,” David says. “I’ve always been looking for them. At one time, I had 10 of them and every one was different.”

1908 4 HP R&V

One of the rarer Root & Vandervoort engines in David’s current collection is a 1908 4 HP example. “They called it a short sideshaft and they’re kind of an odd thing,” David says. “They only made them for a very, very short time.”

Thanks to an article in Farm Collector magazine about his John Deere GP wide-tread tractors, David made contact with a collector in Wisconsin that gave him a lead on the engine. “He said, ‘There’s a guy up here with a Root & Vandervoort engine for sale,’ so I went up there and this is what he had.”

David could tell that it wouldn’t take too much work to get the engine in tip-top condition. “This was an old restoration,” David says. “It wasn’t missing much and was a fairly complete and runnable engine. I made a pattern for a splash guard and redid the fuel pump system and carburetor. The carburetor was wrong so I had to make a new one.”

In addition to the short sideshaft, David mentions the bevel gear and horizontal cam as interesting features, as well as the valve configuration. “It’s got a caged intake valve and ported exhaust,” David says. “The front port isn’t in the head with the valve – it’s actually ported into the cylinder. That made it a very complicated engine to make, which would have made it more expensive and out of most people’s price range back then.”

David has also been told that the water hopper makes this particular engine more rare than other 4 HP examples. “You see tank-cooled engines like this one, but according to a guy in Australia, this is one of the only hopper-cooled examples they’ve come up with,” David says.