Circa 1919 Big 6 HP Sandwich

Big Dreams


| September 2009



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Dean Tapley’s Big 6 HP Sandwich gas engine.

Dean Tapley

Manufacturer: Sandwich Mfg. Co., Sandwich, Ill.
Year: Circa 1919
Horsepower: 6
Bore: 6-1/16-inch
Stroke: 9-inch

Around 13 years ago I was showing a few of my engines at the Lincoln County Old Threshers show just west of Elsberry, Mo. A friend of mine, Jack Folta from Laddonia, Mo., who owns a large collection of engines, was showing some of his as he did every year. When I passed by his display I noticed in the back of his van trailer an engine that really caught my eye. I asked Jack if I could go inside and take a closer look.

It was a beautifully restored 1-1/2 HP Sandwich engine made in Sandwich, Ill. I have seen a lot of engines in the past but nothing stood out like this one. I asked him why such a beautiful engine was still in his trailer and not out on display with the rest. He said that on the way to the show it fell over, scratching the side of the water hopper, and he was so disgusted he just decided to leave it in the trailer. After looking at this engine a long time, I knew I had to have one like it some day.

The first chance
About a year later there was a public sale in Moscow Mills, Mo., not too far from where I live, with a lot of gas engines for sale. I got real excited when I saw that two of them were Sandwich engines: a 4 HP and a Big 6 HP both restored.

After waiting for the day of the sale, I could feel my heart begin to beat loudly in anticipation when the two were ready to be auctioned off. Then, I noticed a well-dressed gentleman, who appeared to have expensive jewelry, sitting in a chair right by them. I knew then I was probably in trouble. It didn’t take long for me to get outbid by him, and he wound up purchasing and taking them to Iowa to display in his museum. Now I wanted one more than ever.

Close but not quite
Another year passed and I found a sale advertised in Gas Engine Magazine in Peoria, Ill., in October 1997 with a lot of engines for sale but only one Sandwich – a 1-1/2 HP just like the one I saw in Jack Folta’s van trailer. I was determined this time to buy it.