Born to be a farmer
Manufacturer: Evans Mfg. Co., Butler, PA
Year: circa 1905
Serial number: 660
Flywheel diameter: 58 inches
Flywheel width: 4 inches
When Phil and Coreen St. Jean, Coventry, R.I., took their circa 1905 10 HP Evans to the 2007 Coolspring Summer Expo, they figured it would blend right in with the rest of the featured Butler County, Pa., engines at the show.
Fortunately it didn’t, and for good reason. “Most of the Evans engines were built for oil field use, but this is one of the few that was built for the farm,” says Phil, surprised by the news. “I had all kinds of people from the museum (at Coolspring) looking at this engine, pointing out the differences between the oil field and farm engines.”
Phil acquired the engine from well-known collector Fred Anderson of Connecticut. “It was painted all different colors when I got it, and it just wasn’t very attractive,” says Phil. “I sand-blasted it and gave it this nice oil finish. I also did a little plumbing work on it, put a new cooling tank on it and made a new cart for it.” Above all, he got the engine running again. “Fred was a friend of mine,” says Phil. “He hadn’t done anything with it and was having trouble making it run. I’m very glad to have gotten it; I ended up getting it to run before he passed, so he was able to see it run.”
Farm roots exposed
The Evans has an 8-1/4-inch bore with an 18-inch stroke, and flywheels 58 inches in diameter with a 4-inch face. It features a hot tube, which Phil admits took some time getting used to. Other than that, Phil knew very little about the engine prior to showing it at Coolspring in 2007.
Phil says museum staff and other Evans collectors pointed out the differences between his apparent farm model and the more common oil field models. “The ignition is electric as well as hot tube,” says Phil. “It has an advance/retard mechanism for timing and also has a pulley that could have been used for a generator or water pump.” Dr. Paul Harvey of Coolspring also pointed out that the cooling system and portability indicate it’s a farm engine.
The biggest question remaining for Phil was the year it was built, and he was hoping for a date in the early 19-teens. Coolspring staff asked Phil to leave the engine behind after the show so they could take a closer look at the engine. While they weren’t able to find much more information on the engine, they were able to find enough to give Phil a pretty good estimate on date. “Based on what limited serial number information we have found, I’m guessing, but I don’t think it’s any later than 1905,” says Paul.
So, what Phil and his wife thought was an interesting Evans oil field engine is really an even more interesting, early 1900s Evans farm engine. And it should also be noted that Phil’s accurate restoration was much more than passable. “After I brought it to the show, they put it on the cover of their newsletter,” says Phil. “The guy who wrote the story said the tank and cart were original but they’re not. That’s probably as close to original as you’ll get, though.”
Contact Phil and Coreen St. Jean at 672 Town Farm Rd., Coventry, RI 02816-5130