A Mysterious Cement Mixer

Obscure Kent cement mixer poses more questions than answers.

| May/June 2004

Kent mixer

Rick guesses his Kent mixer was produced in the early teens since the Novo engine powering it carries a Hildreth tag. Novo engines were produced under the Hildreth Manufacturing Co. name before the company was re-organized in 1912.

Rick Monk of Brownstown, Mich., loves to collect and display Novo engines - and the equipment they powered. So, when fellow engine buddy Joe Kelly contacted Rick about a Novo-powered continuous-pour cement mixer he had stumbled upon in Bangor, Maine, Rick jumped at the chance to add another piece of equipment to his collection.

But when he displays the odd-looking mixer at engine shows, people scratch their heads, wondering just what this particular Novo is powering. Oddly enough, not one person has recognized it as a cement mixer, and nobody has been able to tell Rick anything about its manufacturer, the Kent Machine Co. of Kent, Ohio.

'Nobody even knows what it is,' Rick says. 'I've never met a single person who knows what it is out of the five or six shows I've taken it to. Old-timer concrete guys say they've never seen one. I fully expected to meet someone at the Portland (Ind.) show who knew what it was or something about the company, but I never did.'

Remarkably, Rick's Kent mixer seems to be the only one known to exist, and it's just a matter of luck that Rick ended up owning it. Rick and Joe got to know each other through an old-engine Internet site and from a couple of meetings at the Coolspring Power Museum, Coolspring, Pa., and Joe just happened to think of Rick when he saw the Kent. In October 2002 during a vacation that took him through Canada, Rick drove to Bangor and picked up the mixer, repaying Joe the $700 that Joe spent to buy it from a Bangor engine club.

The mixer was in rough condition, Rick says, and looked nothing like it does today. 'The sheet metal was all rotted out, the mixing hopper was gone and the whole thing was just plain rotted out from sitting out in the weather all these years,' Rick recalls. 'The good thing was all of the cast iron was still intact. Because all that was there, it was just a matter of cleaning it up and working on the sheet metal.' Rick did have to make one link on the back table, plus the bottom of the clutch shoe and the auger housing was rotted out, but all of the bolts except for three unscrewed without breaking. The mixer also included an engine housing, but it's not yet restored.

Likewise, the 3 HP Novo engine that came with the mixer wasn't in terrible shape, either, although its surface looked pretty rough. The engine had definitely been used a lot in the past, but it could have been worse.