A sea of Stickney gas engines

Stickney collectors truly represented the whole engine line at the 2003 Butterfield Engine Show


| September/October 2004


It's usually not possible to gaze at a sea of blue in Minnesota without visiting one of its 10,000 lakes, but that's exactly what happened at the 2003 Butterfield Threshermen's Assn. Steam and Gas Engine Show. In fact, 16 mostly deep sea-blue Stickney gas engines filled the void of the Butterfield show grounds and dazzled wave after wave of happy spectators with these grandiose engines built just after the turn of the century until the middle of the 1910s. If you attended the show but knew little about engines or Stickneys in particular, you might have thought Stickney engines were very common.

Follow the leader
The Stickney engine display was primarily due to the influence and work of Charlie Inman, Havre, Mont., who had recently completed a two-yearlong restoration of a circa 1913 20 HP Stickney, which is only one of three still known to exist. The buzz around Charlie's project had been building for those two years since he announced the project, and in 2003 the fruits of his labors paid off.

Pictures of his large Stickney project in its early phases of rescue and restoration had circulated at the 2001 Butterfield show. That year, he met several Stickney experts with whom he became good friends and who also helped him with his project. Over the next two years, his new-found friends at the Butterfield show followed Charlie's progress with great anticipation as he returned each year with the latest pictures that showed the progress on his project. When news broke that he'd be bringing his restored 20 HP Stickney to the 2003 Butterfield show, organizers decided something special should be planned for the occasion. In response, a number of regular Butterfield exhibitors decided to see if a complete line of Stickney gas engines could be brought together alongside Charlie's engine.

The result was a wide-ranging display of Stickney engines not seen very often. That's because at least one engine of every size - from the big 20 HP with 70-inch flywheels down to the much-smaller 1-3/4 HP -Stickney was represented. All of the Stickney engines - except two - were arranged in a single row from the smallest to largest. A few Stickney models even made it to the show.

A Stickney situation
The Stickney line-up at Butterfield could have resembled a scene from the original factory nearly a century ago that usually offered a selection of different-sized engines to meet the needs of individual customers. The Butterfield line-up also illustrated various features and designs of Stickney engines.

In addition to the more-common Stickney engines with cast iron water hoppers, several Stickney varieties sported tin water hoppers. Still others featured fuel pumps that pump gas to the carburetor at the front of the engine from a gas tank mounted at the rear of the engine. Some Stickneys featured the gas tank mounted above the water hopper, resulting in gas flowing to the carburetor below by force of gravity.






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