Route I, Box 459A Sugar Grove, North Carolina 28679
In 1964, I started collecting gasoline JL engines. Dad
encouraged my interest through the good example he set. Whenever he
started anything, it was with the goal of getting the job finished,
but most importantly, he wanted to do it properly. The blood which
flows in our veins came from ancestors that were carpenters,
farmers, millers, threshermen, saw-millers and industrial steam
engineers-all of whom believed that hard work builds strength and
Dad’s collection of electric and steam railroad lanterns
began in the late 50s. Our home then was Hilliard, Ohio, during my
teen years, I spent many hours helping clean the wire frames and
other lantern parts in our workshop. Hard work and patience are
necessary to restore a lantern to like-new condition.
Searching for lanterns took us to many places. On one occasion
our family ended up at the home and former scrap yard of Theslyn B.
Collins of Broadway, Ohio. Dad talked to Mr. Collins about several
cases of lantern globes, which turned out to be for farm lanterns.
While Mr. Collins was telling Dad about operating a scrap yard in
years past, my brother Don and I decided to look around. In the
yard were bits and pieces of pre-1930 cars and a Model-A truck.
While I was checking out the old truck, Don yelled out, ‘Hey
Ray, come see what I have found.’ Half buried in a hog wallow
was a 1? HP Emerson Branting ham Type-U. The search was on, and we
turned up 10 engines-3 I.H.C., 3 Hercules, Associated, Empire, and
a Root & Vandervoort.
These engines had been rusting away in the weeds for some 20
years. There were no oilers, magnetos or fuel pumps; the only brass
parts that remained were some name tags. My brother bought them all
for scrap price. Dad’s friend, Quentin Hargus, had a truck and
arrangements were made to move the engines to our home at Hilliard,
Ohio. This brought my brother’s collection to a total of 12
engines. I was catching the engine bug, but it didn’t have a
hold on me yet.
That all changed one Saturday when Dad and I went to the
Washington Court House Gun Show and Flea Market. We were roaming
among the many displays when I discovered a 34 HP Ideal Air-cooled.
The crank-shaft was broken, valves were stuck, and part of the
governor was missing. I bought it for a whopping big $6.00. Dad
assumed it was for my brother’s collection. He didn’t
realize that the engine bug had just bit me. He found out on the
way home that I was keeping the Ideal. Dad encouraged our engine
collecting, and the three of us restored the Ideal.
Through the show ads in the Iron-Men Album, we kept up and
planned our summer shows for 1965. This was just one year from the
beginning of Gas Engine Magazine. During 1965, we operated and
displayed our engines at Urbanna, New Concord, Lancaster, Dover and
Mansfield, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Our
mother and sister also attended most of the shows.
In the spring of 1966, we moved our family and collections of
lanterns and engines to the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.
Today Dad works as a maintenance engineer at Watauga Hospital, and
he is still collecting and restoring lanterns. Don works for
‘Tweetsie’ a narrow-gauge tourist railroad. He helps
maintain two steam locomotives and still collects gas engines and
watch fobs. I work in the mechanical maintenance department at
Vermont American, Boone Division. My collection consists of gas
engines, a portable steam engine, a Bremen hot-air pumping engine,
and a 1932 Caterpillar ’20’.