Hit-and-Miss

By Staff
article image
The circa-1920 1-3/4 HP Olds-Seager restored by Robert and James Meixell.

For the sake of preservation

I’m not sure if I can call this a trend just yet, but if Robert
Meixell’s story about the restoration of an Olds-Seager engine is
any indicator, the preservation of antique gas engines is taking an
interesting turn.

The Olds engine, as you’ll learn when you read Robert’s report
beginning on page 28, had been sitting unattended for 83 years
before he and his son, James, happened on to it.

Every one of us dreams of being led to an old tin shed, opening
the door, and finding an old engine, forgotten and lost to time:
That’s exactly what happened.

What makes this story even more unique is that Robert and Jim
didn’t buy the engine: They weren’t even concerned with owning it.
Instead, they just wanted to make sure the engine was preserved for
the future. So working with the engine’s owners, they removed it
from its weather-beaten shed, took it home and in less than a month
had it back in running form.

Although I used the word “restoration,” the engine really
received more of a resuscitation. No new paint, no new skids, but a
concerned, sympathetic cleaning and oiling of all its parts until
it could be coaxed into running again. And when they were done?
Well, it went back to the original owners, where it will stay until
such time as the owners deem otherwise.

The trend I alluded to is one of engine collectors restoring or
saving engines for the simple joy of restoration and for the
purpose of preservation. Last issue, John Bailey shared the story
of his restoration of Buzz Bradley’s extremely rare and beautiful 3
HP Holland engine.

John wasn’t going to own the Holland, but that wasn’t really
important to him. What was important was the chance to work on an
exceptional engine, and the chance to make sure the engine will be
around for generations to come.

For Robert and Jim, and for John, the goal was preservation, not
possession. And I’m willing to bet there are many more stories like
theirs out there, of old iron collectors helping other owners
preserve their engines, selflessly and graciously lending a hand to
make sure these old engines we love are around for years to
come.

It’s just part of what makes the old iron community so special,
and the rest of us so lucky.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines