Circa-1900 2 HP Havana

Still red and still ready

| February/March 2010

Circa-1900 2 HP Havana
Manufacturer: Havana Mfg. Co., Havana, Ill.
Year: circa-1900
Horsepower: 2
Serial number: 2008

Walking around the grounds at the 2008 Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. show in Portland, Ind., it was hard to miss Mike Shaffer’s display, a circa-1900 2 HP Havana “Red & Ready” pumping engine, complete with walking beam.

The outfit was popular among Midwest rural farmers in the early part of the 20th century, but today, a complete and running example is hard to find. Fortunately for Mike, Art Biagi Jr., Centralia, Ill., was in the right place at the right time to rescue and restore this example, which is one of just a few known. “I found it in Kentucky,” says Art. “It was in good mechanical condition, but as far as looks, it was in horrible shape.”

Looking for a project, Art decided that the Havana filled the bill. “I generally spend each winter restoring a good engine and this was the one for 2007,” says Art. “I took it apart, and where a pin was needed, I made one.” Art says he also replaced a small piece on the carburetor, put new piping on it, made a new water tank and finished it off with a new paint job. Other than that, the engine was ready to go.

About a month before the 2008 Portland show, Mike bought the engine from Art. “I was interested in it because it has an unusual tripping system on the ignition,” says Mike. “It was just one of Havana’s ideas to compete with everyone else. I’m sure it didn’t infringe on anyone’s patent with that design.”

As C.H. Wendel explains in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, “One of Havana’s best known engines was the ‘Red & Ready’ pumping engine. Built in 2 and 3 horsepower this outfit was shipped complete and ready to attach to any pump standard. All necessary gearing was built into the design.

“Pumping outfits were extremely popular in rural areas,” writes Wendel. “Farmers no longer had to depend solely on windmills for pumping the daily water supply. If there was no wind, the only other method was to pump water by hand.”


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