| February 2005

  • RichardBackus.jpg

  • RichardBackus.jpg

Old Engines

Page 13 of this issue features some great vintage shots submitted by reader David Babcock, whose period photographs have graced these pages many times. Dave's submission reminds me of the historic quality inherent in photographs taken "in the day," and similar, recent submissions by Art Gaier, John Davidson and David Kolzow Sr., to name just a few, help bring the importance of preserving vintage photographs into sharp focus.

On that note, I'd like to ask readers who have vintage photographs - and more specifically original negatives - to contact us so we might make copies of their material. The idea is to build an archive of material we can use not only in the magazine today, but have on hand tomorrow to show future collectors and restorers what their engines and equipment originally looked like. There must be thousands of old negatives out there waiting to be developed into prints and shared with the rest of the old iron community, and with luck we can capture some of those images and preserve them for the future.

Big Engines

Behemoth engines like the Worthingtons tenderly looked after by Joe Kopp (page 20) aren't exactly the norm in our hobby. Even so, they have their own siren song, their sheer size calling engine fans for closer inspection and appreciation. Engines in this class were as revolutionary for small-town America as the more-familiar stationary engines we collect were for rural America, and it's good to see examples like this restored and kept in running order; physical - and vocal - reminders of an important era in American history.

Slightly smaller, but no less impressive, is the 50 HP Bessemer restored by Missourians Gary Bahre and Jim Baue. As their story on page 6 explains, the pair had been looking for a large gas engine, and they certainly found it in the Bessemer. Engines in the Bessemer's class were once common, employed around the country for anything from oil pumping duties to running generators. Like the Worthington engines, Bessemer engines played an important role powering America's economic engine, and their quality construction is an enduring legacy.

Little Engines

On the other end of the spectrum, on page 17 we continue our Red Wing scale engine buildup, which, readers will note, has been extended to a five-part series from the planned four. Richard Dickey, who's building the engine and reporting his progress, has discovered that building a scale engine isn't small in complications. The process is both demanding and satisfying, and Richard decided he couldn't thoroughly describe the buildup if he wrapped it up this issue, a complication we're sure readers will enjoy.

Richard Backus