Last issue, Joe Maurer's excellent article on the acquisition and preservation of his 1908 8 HP Christensen prompted me to ponder the question of preservation versus restoration.
Opinions on the subject are as varied as the engines we collect, but one corner we rarely hear from is the fairer sex. The issue prompted Pat Hidy, Plattsburg, Mo., a woman and an engine owner, to share her views on the subject, views that are illuminating and refreshing. Pat writes:
"Okay, this is coming from a female, who acquired her 1930 Sears Economy 1-3/4 HP Model JK engine in 1973. Granted, when I acquired it as part of the purchase of an estate, I wasn't sure what to do with it. But I did have enough sense to not let it get away from me, so it moved with me several times, always going farther back in the new garage. But it always went to the new place.
"Finally, in 1995 we joined an antique tractor club, and in 2003 we inherited several big engines. After two years of playing second fiddle I demanded my own engine and we unearthed the Economy. I have the instruction manual for it and possibly even the original receipt. I had it checked over by Bill Anderson, who just adjusted its parts, and I now run it, although so far it hasn't traveled very far: I am still having to battle with the other-half over that.
"The point is that I am a female and I am an engine owner, and I see this question from two sides: mine and my husband's (who wants to cheapen it with new paint). And there has been much debate in my household about the appearance of this oldie but goodie, still in original, but definitely working, condition.
"Most of you guys refer to your engines as if they were females … 'she's looking good, she's using a little oil.' I carry that one step further, and think of my engine also as a female. And since I have reached the over-the-hill years in my lifetime I can relate to the damage the years can do; the wrinkles and cracks, the bumps, the needed repairs. And for that reason alone my engine has earned her looks. Let's face it fellows, the only thing that makes an older woman look cheap is a bad attempt to look younger than she is; the paint, the hair dye, the makeup and crack filler, the fake stuff, the clothes for gals 30 years younger.
"So leave the older, working engines alone! They have earned their right to be left in a comfortable condition, in their rusty, dusty overcoats, with all the parts having learned to work together and relax together, and doing the job they were intended to do."
Well said, Pat. Well said.
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