Young Iron: Jonathan Triebner

Gas engine collector Jonathan Triebner is not new to the hobby: it’s a family tradition!

| April/May 2014

  • Gas engine collector Jonathan Triebner, age 33, Exeter, Ontario.
    Photo courtesy Jonathan Triebner

Take a quick glance at the exhibitors and attendees at gas engine shows, and it’s easy to think that this is an older person’s hobby. But take a closer look and you’ll find a growing number of younger enthusiasts. You’ll meet them in Young Iron.

Q: How long have you been collecting gas engines?
A: Engines have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I probably started buying and selling engines myself in my mid- to late-20s. I remember getting left behind (I had school) when Dad went to get his single-valve Simplex in West Virginia and thinking that wasn’t right. I was in grade 4.

Q: What attracted you to the hobby?
A: The bug bit me pretty young. Mom has pictures of me when I was 2 or 3 covered in grease from whatever new project Dad brought home. Anything I saw when I was younger was great but now my taste has narrowed down to preferring tank-cooled & original paint. Last spring we attended the Nuenen Rally in Holland for their slide-valve expo and I’m pretty sure I wandered around the whole time with my mouth open because of all the stuff I’d never even heard of before.

Q: Who else in your family  collects engines?
A: Grandpa and Dad started collecting in the 1970s. Grandpa developed quite a collection on his own, including an Abenaque, a 6-inch Rider and a 6-inch Ericsson as well as a Happy Farmer tractor. My uncle Gary collected as well before he passed away. We’ve still got his 6 HP John Deere.

Q: What engines do you have in your collection?
A: I’ve been ridiculously fortunate to have a father who shares a hobby with me, and one who had a pretty impressive collection before I knew what one was. I’ve only ever branched out a few times to purchase my own engines, which include 8-cycle Aermotors, a vertical-governed Canadian Monarch and a very early Massey-Harris Type 1. We probably have about 85 engines, about half are running or close to it and a few basket cases.

Q: What is your favorite engine in your collection?
A: The first engine ever given to me (for Christmas one year) was Grandpa’s first engine: a 1-1/2 HP Goold, Shapley & Muir vertical. It’s the one that “started it all” for our family.