Young Iron: A Decade Down the Road

Reconnect with previously featured Young Iron collector Chris Jerue and his impressive, expanded collection of engines and drag saws.

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Chris Jerue
Chris Jerue and his 4-stroke hit-and-miss Vaughan drag saw.

Age: 28

Location: Cheney, Wash

What’s your favorite engine in your collection?

My favorite engine in my collection is my 4-stroke hit-and-miss Vaughan drag saw. This is an odd and rare item that I had been interested in for a very, very long time. It belonged to a good friend of mine who, after many years of convincing, eventually sold it to me. It needed a lot of work, and I spent the spring and summer of 2019 fixing it up. I was able to debut it at the 2019 Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association Northwest Regional Show in Shelton, Washington.

How many engines do you currently have in your collection?

I personally have approximately 25 flywheel engines and almost 200 drag saws. While a few of the engines are fairly common, some of the more rare and notable ones are my 30hp and 300hp Venn-Severin engines, two 6hp Fairbanks-Morse vertical hoisting engines, a spark plug-fired Edwards, an igniter-fired Edwards, a 12hp Samson, an unknown brand T-head engine, and two Washington state-built engines — a Western Wright and a Clift.

Are you working on any restoration projects?

I am working on a number of different projects, but my biggest and most complex is the 300hp Venn-Severin. It has been a huge undertaking in working towards making it run again. Everything brass and copper had been stolen off the engine, so I had to borrow parts to get recast and machined to be able to get my engine complete again. Rebuilding the injection pumps was also a chore. I still need to finish up the injectors, the rest of the fuel system, as well as making sure everything functions in the oiling system. There is never a shortage of projects and work to be done on this engine. Many tasks are fairly daunting due to the sheer size of everything and the fact that one cannot find parts. I am finding that there is something awe-inspiring about working on an engine so large that is hard to explain to those who have not had the opportunity.

In general, what are your favorite engines?

Big engines are my favorite! I would love to find a very large, single-cylinder hit-and-miss engine someday.

As a young collector, what are some obstacles you’ve come across in the hobby?

The main obstacles I come across are money — not being able to afford an old engine I want, and time — not having the time to work on an old engine because my job and life obligations get in the way.

If money weren’t an issue, what is your dream engine to own?

So far, I cannot narrow down my dream engine to a specific engine. Being as I want to be able to show and explain to people the many different styles of engines. I have a list of engine designs that I would like to own someday to satisfy that. Top on this list are a cam-stopper engine, an inverted engine, an opposed engine, a very large, horizontal, single-cylinder engine, and a hot air engine.

Is this a hobby you share with family or friends? If so, whom?

I share this hobby with my father, Mike. He has been involved in this hobby my entire life, which lead to me gaining the interest and passion I have for it. I have also made a number of very close friends because of this hobby, some of whom are like family to me.

What shows do you normally attend each year?

I normally attend the Great Oregon Steam Up in Brooks, Oregon. This is the largest show in this area, and is a blast to attend. There are always a lot of neat engines to look at, and a lot of friends whom I don’t get to see often enough to catch up with. In addition, I try to make it to several smaller, somewhat local shows each year too.

What do you keep an eye out for when searching for items to build your collection?

I always keep my eye out for anything interesting and unique. I enjoy showing the collection, and being able to show people — especially people not in the engine hobby — the different styles and design ideas created so long ago. In order to aid in that, I keep my eye out for a variety of makes, models and designs. I also look for anything drag saw, Ingeco, Venn-Severin, and Washington state related. Being the historian for all makes of drag saws, Ingeco and Venn-Severin engines, I enjoy adding more to my personal collection of them. I also have a huge spot in my heart for engines built in my home state of Washington. Additionally, I have a goal of owning one of every make and model of drag saw, a lot of my duplicates are for sale to help make room and funding for the types I am missing in the collection.

What do you wish you could find?

There are a number of parts for engines of mine I am keeping an eye out for. First, an original style flat-belt pulley for my 12hp Samson (2-3/4-inch crankshaft, 16 to 24-inch diameter, 6 to 10 inch wide). I am also looking for a Capston pulley for my 6hp Fairbanks-Morse hoisting engine (2-1/2-inch crankshaft, 6 to 10 inch wide). Lastly, I would like to find an original or re-cast muffler for my Gade (1-1/4-inch NPT).

What advice would you give to others wanting to become an engine collector and enthusiast?

This is a fun and rewarding hobby, and I advise anyone who has an interest to make it to some engine shows and start talking with other collectors. A majority of people in this hobby are extremely helpful. Next, work on finding an engine you can afford to tinker with and enjoy! The rust disease will soon follow …

What has been the most challenging restoration you have completed?

My 4-stroke Vaughan hit-and-miss drag saw project has been my most challenging restoration project to date. It was in very rough condition and needed almost every part addressed on it, some of which were outside of my capabilities. Being as there are no parts available for this, and also no paperwork, it was an adventure to find the parts and figure out everything involved. While the restoration process was time consuming and expensive, I am very happy with how it turned out.

What resources do you use to learn about or add to your collection?

When learning about an engine in my collection, my biggest resources are researching online, looking through old literature, and talking with other collectors and historians. Most of the time when finding engines to add to my collection, it is done via word-of-mouth.

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