If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short experience with engines it’s that things seldom go as planned. Whether you’re restoring an engine or just fixing it when it breaks, you’ve probably learned to expect the unexpected. To the true enthusiast, this does nothing but add to the excitement.
When I first became the assistant editor of Gas Engine Magazine and Farm Collector over a year ago, I expected the most exciting moments in my position would include finding a spelling error in a subhead or perhaps even publishing a few articles of my own. I never once suspected my new job would so enchantingly pull me into the immersive world of old iron. But full disclosure: the enchantment part took some time. Initially, the old iron obsession seemed a little strange to me.
At my first show (the 2013 Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, Iowa), I found myself surrounded by equipment that had apparently lost its usefulness and, as many of us pushing-30-year-olds see it, its worth. Little did I appreciate that history itself can be observed in the form of an old machine. Heard in the clanging of its components. Even smelled. Through the smokestacks of old engines the scent of industrialism emanates from a time when technology was our ticket out of hardship, and every day we thanked God for it.
Gradually, my appreciation for old iron developed like an old Polaroid photograph until I saw the hobby clearly for the first time. I was no longer the guy who just didn’t get it; I moved up in the world. I’m now a wide-eyed believer.
Unexpected though this turn of events was, I’m trying to learn everything I can about the hobby. To leave no flywheel unturned, so to speak. And I have to say, though the journey’s just beginning, I feel up to the challenge. Something in me has been brought to life like a newly restored engine firing up after years of neglect.
I can relate to a certain one-of-a-kind mystery engine donated to the folks at the Coolspring Power Museum. It was rescued from a ditch, and spent some time longing to triumphantly awake from its slumber in storage. Go to Mystery Engine Comes Alive at the Coolspring Power Museum for Paul Harvey’s account of how this engine named Clark got “his” life back.
Stories like that amaze me. And although this is only my first issue as associate editor, I feel blessed beyond measure to have joined the ranks of a community that’s keeping the past alive. My knowledge of gas engines is still severely lacking but, I’m familiar enough with the hobby to know, it’s nothing a little time, dedication and TLC can’t take care of.