Young Iron: Sarah and Bethanie Riffle

By Staff
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Sarah Riffle (right) and Bethanie Riffle with Sarah's 6 HP Brown.

Take a quick glance at the exhibitors and attendees at gas engine shows, and it’s easy to think that this is an older person’s hobby. But take a closer look and you’ll find a growing number of younger enthusiasts. You’ll meet them in Young Iron.

Sarah Riffle (Age 20) and Bethanie Riffle (Age 18)
Warren, OH;

Q: How long have you been collecting gas engines?
A: Sarah Riffle: As far as collecting, it is a family collection. And it was started before I was born.
Bethanie Riffle: I personally don’t have a collection, but I’ve been around them since I was born.

Q: What attracted you to the hobby?
A: Sarah: I had the privilege of growing up with this hobby, but it wasn’t till I was a young teen that I took an interest in the complexity of the engines. Also, you get to work, play and get dirty all at the same time.
Bethanie: Growing up in the hobby I became more interested.

Q: How many engines do you have in your collection?
A: Sarah: We have about 10, such as Foos, Columbus, Angola, Springfield, Miami, Brown, etc.
Bethanie: We have a vertical Bessemer.

Q: What’s your favorite engine in your collection?
A: Sarah: I like the 6 HP hopper-cooled Foos Type S the best. I love the look and design, and it runs beautifully.
Bethanie: I like the Bessemer the most, because it’s a father/daughter project.

Q: Are you working on any restoration projects?
A: Sarah: I’m working on my 6 HP Brown right now, did some mechanical work and now new skids and a cooling tank. I’m also helping where ever I can on the 600 HP Snow at Coolspring (Pa.) Power Museum.
Bethanie: I’ll be starting to work on my Bessemer soon, to replace the cooling tank and a few other things.

Q: If money weren’t an issue, what is your dream engine to own?
A: Sarah: I want a slide-valve Otto. I love the way they run and that they were some of the first internal combustion engines.
Bethanie: I would want a Domestic, because they run nice and I like the design.

Q: What are your favorite engines and why?
A: Sarah: I like most anything unusual. I like the fact that there aren’t a lot of the same ones out there.
Bethanie: I don’t have any particular kinds; I’m into anything that runs.

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