Celebrating 50 Years of Gas Engine Magazine and Other Old Engine Anniversaries

By Staff

It seems 2015 was something of a banner year for books in the old engine category. New titles don’t come along all that often in our little corner of the world, but this year we’ve seen three books produced for old engine enthusiasts, all of them, notably, self-published.

First up was Wayne Grenning’s fantastic tome on engines built before 1900, Flame Ignition. Written to help celebrate the Coolspring Power Museum’s 30th anniversary, it is a detailed examination of flame ignition engines, a seminal work covering an often overlooked chapter in the history of gas engine development.

Next up was Jack Alexander’s The Regan Vapor Engine: The Beginnings of California’s Gas Engine Industry. An examination of the development of the West Coast gas engine industry, it traces the early industry through profiles of more than 60 West Coast companies, including Regan’s. Important developments and companies are noted, making this  a valuable reference material for engine history buffs.

The latest work is from engine enthusiast Ron Cairns and his self-published Power Pioneers: The Art of the Engine – Pre 1956. The first of a planned two-volume set (the next volume will feature engine patents from 1956-on), Cairns’ book looks at engine technology through the lens of patent applications. The book is essentially a collection of snapshots, the result of one enthusiast’s years of engagement, hunting and pecking through patents.

On another note, we’ve decided to change A to Z Engines to simply Readers’ Engines. Why? Well, the A to Z angle seemed fun at first, a way to order showing engines as we moved along, issue to issue. Yet in the final analysis, I think all any of us really want to do is show off our engines, regardless of where they fit in the alphabet. So with that, send in your engine photos! We want to see what you’re collecting and show it to the rest the GEM crowd. And when you do send in your engine photos, include as much technical information as you can (model, horsepower, serial number, bore and stroke, ignition type, governing type, weight, flywheel diameter and face width), plus a little background on your ownership and anything special about the engine.

Finally, this issue, Volume 51, No. 1, marks the 50th anniversary of Gas Engine Magazine. Not many magazines last even 10 years, let alone 50, and I doubt GEM founder Rev. Elmer Ritzman ever imagined his “Baby” – as he called it in the first issue, January/February 1966 – would have such a long life.

That it has survived this long is only because of the undying enthusiasm of the old iron community. Your interest in keeping alive the memories of days long gone and your fascination with early engine technology has preserved a slice of the past for everyone else to enjoy, keeping the flywheels of this little magazine spinning along all these years.

Richard Backus, Editor-in-Chief, Email

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines