Circa 1913 20 HP Stickney Gas Engine

Sleeping beauty

| June/July 2004

  • 20 HP Stickney Engine
    The finished engine in all its glory at Charlie's farm in Montana.
  • Circa-1913 20 HP Stickney
    Charlie Inman's circa-1913 20 HP Stickney as it looked the day it was removed from its 49 year slumber in Montana's Milk River.
  • Stickney Engine
    The Stickney slowly comes to view as years of accumulated silt are removed and the engine is gently lifted from its resting place. Note the cable running to the engine, which was tied to the Stickney decades ago to mark its location.
  • Stickney Engine
    The Stickney slowly comes to view as years of accumulated silt are removed and the engine is gently lifted from its resting place. Note the cable running to the engine, which was tied to the Stickney decades ago to mark its location.
  • Stickney Engine
    The Stickney slowly comes to view as years of accumulated silt are removed and the engine is gently lifted from its resting place. Note the cable running to the engine, which was tied to the Stickney decades ago to mark its location.
  • Portland show
    Charlie inspects the Stickney at the Portland show.
  • Stickney cylinder was badly cracked
    The Stickney was badly cracked from its years in the river, requiring extensive metal-stitching and welding. Charlie carried out his own work on the water hopper, the cylinder and the cast iron muffler.
  • Stickney water hopper was badly cracked
    The Stickney was badly cracked from its years in the river, requiring extensive metal-stitching and welding. Charlie carried out his own work on the water hopper, the cylinder and the cast iron muffler.
  • Portland show
    Charlie's grandson Marcus In man at last year's Portland show.
  • Cylinder head
    Removing the cylinder head revealed years of sediment. It took four months to free the piston from its bore.

  • 20 HP Stickney Engine
  • Circa-1913 20 HP Stickney
  • Stickney Engine
  • Stickney Engine
  • Stickney Engine
  • Portland show
  • Stickney cylinder was badly cracked
  • Stickney water hopper was badly cracked
  • Portland show
  • Cylinder head

Circa-1913 20 HP Stickney gas engine
Manufacturer:
 Charles A. Stickney Co., St. Paul, Minn.
Year: Circa 1913*
Horsepower: 20 at 225 RPM
Serial number: 23943  
Bore: 10-inch
Stroke: 15-inch
Ignition: Hit-and-miss, make and-break ignitor
Weight: 8,000 pounds
Flywheels: 70 inch diameter, 1,700 pound each

*The exact year this engine was made is uncertain. Although Stickney quit making engines in 1913, it is believed that until 1920 the company continued putting engines together from leftover inventory, stamping the serial number when the engine was sold. This engine is believed to have sold in 1916.

Every now and then, an engine comes along that stops the entire old-iron community in its tracks. Charlie Inman's circa 1913 20 HP Stickney is one of those engines.

Charlie Inman seems almost embarrassed when asked to talk about the remarkable 20 HP Stickney he fished out of Montana's Milk River. Ever since he got it running last year, the Havre, Mont., resident has become something of a celebrity in the old-iron community.

One of three 20 HP Stickneys known to exist, the history of Charlie's engine can be traced back to 1937. That was the year construction started on the Fresno Dam, 14 miles west of Havre in north central Montana.



Contractor's special
In 1937, the Stickney was just an old engine, a contractor's beast of burden running a pump or a light plant, just one part of a contingent of machinery employed to dam the Milk River.

Charlie's dad, Bert, was a mechanic attached to the dam project, and Charlie remembers him saying the Stickney ran almost constantly. 'Dad used to say that on a clear night you could hear that thing running, even though it was 2 miles away.'