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Rare Engine Time Capsule

| 5/6/2015 8:37:00 AM

Last issue, I mentioned the pending publication of Wayne Grenning’s new book on the history of early flame-ignition internal combustion engines. As you can read in Woody Sins’ review, Wayne has completed his book, Flame Ignition: A Historical Account of Flame Ignition in the Internal Combustion Engine, and it will debut at the 30th anniversary of the Coolspring Power Museum in Coolspring, Pennsylvania, on June 18-20, 2015. The anniversary celebration coincides with the museum’s annual Engine Expo, this year celebrating, appropriately enough, flame-ignition engines.

Wayne’s new book will be just one of the star attractions at the June event, the others being the rare engines preserved and run by the museum, plus the special engines collectors will bring to help celebrate the museum’s anniversary. Among those will be the museum’s flame-ignition, slide-valve, 2 HP 1885 Schleicher, Schumm Otto, which is featured in Coolspring Spotlight. An exceptionally rare engine, we’ve heard it will be joined at the Expo by an 8 HP Schleicher, Schumm Otto.

The Coolspring Museum anniversary is no minor event. That the museum even exists is amazing, housing perhaps the most important collection of early internal-combustion engines found anywhere in the world. And it exists only because of the dogged determination and passionate enthusiasm of dedicated enginemen across the country, including the late and greatly missed Preston Foster. Preston, the first president of the museum, passed away March 8, 2015, and you can be certain his memory will be invoked in many ways during the June event.

While the museum was formally chartered in 1985, it was actually launched in 1967 by Paul Harvey. In 1967, Paul, with help from collector John Wilcox and others, laid the foundation for the first building on the site. That concrete pour would be the first of many, as today Coolspring includes over 20 buildings and some 250 stationary engines, many of them more than 100 years old, and today running as well as they did when they were first designed, cast and machined so many years ago. Paul writes about the museum and its engines regularly, and this issue, he shares his memories of the early days at Coolspring. Turn to page 25 to read Paul’s story.

On a final note, I’ve learned that engine and tractor historian Jack Alexander, author of Steam Power on California Roads and Farms 1858-1911 and The First American Farm Tractors: Developments to 1917, among others, has just published a new book, The Regan Vapor Engine: The Beginnings of California’s Gas Engine Industry. I have a copy on the way, so look for a full review in the next issue of GEM.

Richard Backus


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