The Gas Engines of Mt. Pleasant

An Associated Chore Boy, a rare Frisco Standard and many other fantastic engines grace the show grounds at the 2018 Old Threshers Reunion.

| December/January 2019

  • Kenny McElhinney’s 1918 6 hp United.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Earl Wacker’s circa-1901-1905 3 hp Frisco Standard.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Dan Newendorp’s circa-1913 1-3/4 hp Associated Chore Boy has been in the same family since new. The cooling fan is a reproduction.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The gas tank is a reproduction, but Dan is hoping to salvage the original, which he’s slowly cleaning. The paint is all original.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A close-up showing an old repair to the lug for the igniter pick.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Associated Chore Boy plate.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Dan fit a reproduction exhaust rocker arm to replace the broken original.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Repair to the oiler mount.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The Associated as it looked when Dan got it, fresh from decades of gathering dirt in an old shed.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Dan is justifiably proud of his Associated Chore Boy, which runs like the proverbial clock.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A nice, big Fuller & Johnson on the show grounds at Mt. Pleasant.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A homebuilt overhead cam engine!
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • This nice Simplicity was on hand at Mt. Pleasant. Made by Turner Mfg. Co., they’re thin on the ground.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • This unusual square hopper Cushman was marketed by Sears under the “Farm Master” brand.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Kelvin Lashley’s ported 1910 1-3/4 hp Union Giant.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Kelvin Lashley’s 1910 2 hp headless Witte with rare rear-facing mixer.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Merle Beachy brought this fabulous 1908 4 hp Jacobson sideshaft, which ran perfectly. The flywheel-driven Motsinger magneto is no longer used.
    Photo by Richard Backus

It had been a few years since I’d taken in the Old Threshers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, so I was glad for the opportunity to attend 2018’s 69th annual reunion, held as always over the Labor Day weekend. In addition to the expected horde of steam traction engines (at least 40 by my count and certainly more) and tractors – I didn’t bother to count; there were hundreds – was the expected gathering of vintage engines. Spread out over a large area on the north end of the grounds, the engines ranged from the rare to the expected, such as Jim Patton’s 1910 20 hp 4-cylinder Lamb, which originally powered a Mississippi River ferry boat, and the Tuller family’s 1914 1-1/2 hp Waterloo Boy.

This year’s feature engine was the United, and one of the most impressive on the grounds was the big 1918 6 hp owned by Kenny McElhinney. Imposing in size, it’s an impressive engine and in perfect running order. It was looking particularly sharp thanks to a fresh coat of paint, a new suit if you will, tailored just before the reunion so it would look its best. Kenny, who says that he and his brother, Keith, have been coming to Mt. Pleasant for the past 40 years, acquired the engine 47 years ago, rescuing it from a corncrib about a quarter-mile from his rural home in Morning Sun, Iowa. It originally came off a farm about 3 miles from the McElhinney’s, where it ran a buzz saw, a grinder, and a line shaft to a pump house. Kenny is only the third owner of the United, which has lived its entire life within 25 miles of Mt. Pleasant.

A real surprise at the show was Earl Wacker’s circa-1901-1905 3 hp Frisco Standard, manufactured by Standard Gas Engine Co., San Francisco, California. Very few of these engines were made, and even fewer left the West Coast, so they are a rare sight at any show, more so a Midwest engine show. Earl, from Penngrove, California, brought the engine to Mt. Pleasant on his way home from the Portland, Indiana, Tri-State Gas Engine show, where he displayed it as well. We’ll have a full story on Earl’s Frisco Standard in the next issue.

In addition to meeting Earl and Kenny and Keith, I had the chance to catch up with a few owners to get better acquainted with them and their engines. One of those was 30-year-old Dan Newendorp, Kalona, Iowa, who brought along a nice Cushman upright and a circa-1913 1-3/4 hp Associated Chore Boy. A very popular engine in its day owing to its simple, high-quality construction, the Chore Boy was available in both air- and water-cooled versions and sold by the thousands. Practically speaking, they’re not particularly rare engines, yet Dan’s Chore Boy is, and for a very simple reason: It’s been in the same family since new.

The Associated

As I learned from Dan and his wife, Jennifer, the engine originally belonged to Jennifer’s great-grandfather. Dan acquired the engine about two years ago after commenting to Jennifer’s grandfather, Monroe, that he thought it might be neat to get a steam engine. As it happened, Monroe knew that the Associated – bought new by his father sometime around 1913 – was still on the farm, buried under years of debris in an old machine shed. “You don’t want a steam engine, they’re big and expensive,” he said to Dan, telling him there was an old hit-and-miss engine in a shed on the farm.

Circa-1913 1-3/4 hp Associated Chore Boy

Manufacturer: Associated Mfg. Co., Waterloo, IA
Year: Circa 1913
Serial No.: 25938 (on crankshaft)
Horsepower: 1-3/4 hp (tag says 1-1/2 hp) @ 450rpm
Bore & stroke: 3-3/4in x 5in
Flywheel: 17-3/4in x 2in
Belt Pulley: 6in x 4-3/16in
Ignition: Igniter w/battery and coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss, flywheel weights
Cooling: Air w/belt-driven fan


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