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A Word to Dealers

Author Photo
By Staff

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Another ad from the July 28, 1910 issue of Farm Implement News, this time for Monitor engines.
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Advertisement for Stickney engines from the July 28, 1910 issue of Farm Implement News.

The following article originally appeared in the July 28, 1910
issue of Farm Implement News. While few of us have to deal with the
issues discussed in the following article, it’s interesting to
read as it gives us an opportunity to understand just how important
the engines we now collect were to the everyday life of merchants
and farmers in the early part of the 20th century. Enjoy.

Most of the dealers whose letters have appeared in the recent
issues of Farm Implement News report that they are handling
gasoline engines, and many of them say that the business is
satisfactory in every way. In some cases dealers report buying
engines in carload lots. The minority is large, however, and if
these reports reflect the situation throughout the country, there
is a wide field of prospective engine trade that ought to be
cultivated.

The dealer who thoughtfully considers the gasoline engine
subject cannot avoid the conclusion that every farmer who has not
already bought a gasoline engine is a prospective buyer. As he goes
deeper into the subject he sees that nearly every farmer who buys
one is a sale prospect for the second. When the great possibilities
of this motive power on the farm are but partially realized he is
ready to agree with the manufacturers that the time is coming when
the equipment of the average farm will include two or three
gasoline engines of different sizes.

‘The farmers here are not interested in the gasoline
engine,’ says one dealer. There is a latent interest in
gasoline engines in every farmer. It must be developed by the
dealer. The most effective way is to buy a sample engine, learn how
to run it and give practical demonstrations. The less one knows
about the gasoline engine the more he is attracted and interested
by a demonstration, and if he happens to be a farmer he instantly
recognizes the value of such a motor to him. You cannot interest
him with a catalog if he has never seen a gasoline engine at
work.

It is true of all classes of labor-saving farm machinery and
apparatus that one sale begets others in the same community. This
is especially true of the gasoline engine. Place an engine in the
hands of a good, reliable farmer, one who is highly regarded by his
neighbors, and you take a long stride toward an established trade
in this line. This has been the experience of many dealers who at
first were skeptical about the engine business and who for a time
fought shy of it.

Because no gasoline engines have been sold to farmers in your
community is no reason why you should refuse to take up the sale.
Do you intend to wait until the direct sellers and mail-order
concerns have skimmed the cream of the trade? The fact that no
engines have been sold in your section is the best reason why you
should ‘start something’ in this line. It means that you
have a rich, but hitherto uncultivated field. It insures sales. Do
not deceive yourself with the thought that there is no demand for
engines in your trade. If there is no demand you may rest assured
that all the material and conditions necessary for the creation of
a large demand are present in every farming community.

Engines Keep Boys on the Farm

If the problem of keeping the boys on the farm is half as
serious as we are led to believe it is by speakers and writers of
national reputation, it constitutes one of the strongest arguments
the dealer can use in his efforts to sell gasoline engines. The
normal boy likes machinery and motive power. He is eager to take
charge of something that ‘goes.’ One of the happiest days
in a little fellow’s life is the day Santa Claus brings him a
toy engine. As he grows older his desire to run a bigger engine
becomes a passion. The seventh heaven of bliss is reached when he
takes his first ride on a locomotive and is permitted to throw over
the lever and pull the throttle.

Young men find the poorly equipped farm an uninteresting and
unattractive place, to say nothing of the back-breaking labor that
is required to accomplish the necessary tasks. The gasoline engine
lightens the labor and changes the boy’s view of the farm. In
all probability the appearance of a gasoline engine and his
father’s permission to ‘rig up’ as many labor-saving
combinations as he could has called back many a dissatisfied farmer
boy who was headed city-ward and started him along the road to a
life of contentment and a successful career as a farmer.

In the Gas Review of September, A. Ten Eyck discusses
this question and relates experiences and incidents which prove
that the gasoline engine keeps boys on the farm. He says:

A few years ago while threshing beans with my outfit, which
consists of a 3 HP gasoline engine and an Ownes No. 4 bean
thresher, all mounted on a single truck wagon, a boy of about 16
years of age, son of the man for whom I was threshing, said to me:
‘If father would only buy an engine like that, so we could
thresh beans and buzz wood, and grind our own feed and pump water I
would be more contented to stay at home and work. I have always
wanted to run an engine and work around machinery.’

While there I let the boy take care of the engine, explaining to
him its various parts and how they worked together to get the
power, and to say that the boy enjoyed it is putting it mildly. The
boy experienced more real genuine pleasure from starting and
stopping and caring for that engine than he had found in the whole
season’s work.

Thinking about it afterward and comparing the longings of that
boy with the longings of my own boyhood days when I too longed for
an engine, I can understand how that lad felt. This was in the days
before gasoline engines were made. Today, as cheap as they are,
there is no excuse for any farmer not having one to do his work and
satisfy the desire of his boys for experience with real
machinery.

The papers are filled with articles about how to keep the boys
on the farm, and many such theories are spun along that line, yet
the boys, as soon as they are old enough, drift away to the cities
to work in a factory or on a boat or on a railroad, wherever they
can get a job of running a machine of some kind. What is the reason
for such restlessness, such a desire to get away from the old home?
Simply this: In many cases the father is content to do his work in
the same usual way his father did and expects his boy to fall in
line. The boy has advanced ideas in regards to the value of
machinery as an aid to farm woes and his soul rebels at the thought
of the drudgery old-fashioned methods entail. He yearns for the
newer and more progressive ways. Instead of doing the daily tasks
slowly with straining muscles and toil, he can be the master of
forces that answer to his lightest touch. But the father, failing
to appreciate the longings of his sons to be the masters of their
work and not the slaves, sees the boys go to the city where their
labor is lightened during the application of mechanical power. The
whispering pulleys and flying belts and the hum of the engine find
a responsive chord in the heart of the youth.

I did some work a few days ago for a farmer who was one of the
progressive kinds. He had a 10 HP gasoline engine, a feed grinder,
ensilage cutter, corn husker, buzz saw, etc. He also had a boy. I
said to the boy, ‘Do you often have any desire to leave the
farm and go to the city to work?’ ‘No, sir.’ He relied,
‘work is too much of a pleasure on this farm to want to
leave.’ When there was an axe or a set of sections to grind,
the engine was ready to furnish the power. No tired arms, no
backache, no dread of the work. When feed was needed, there was no
driving several miles through the cold and over rough roads, the
engine and feed grinder were always ready to save that kind of a
trip. When there was no wood, the engine and buzz saw were there to
do the hard work. At corn husking time the engine and corn husker
did the work in short order.

Hundreds of boys are in the cities today working for wages.
Exposed to the temptations of the city, working in dusty, dirty,
poorly ventilated factories, are many boys who would be enjoying
the pure air and the sunlight of the farm had their fathers
realized and tried to meet the requests and longings of the
boys’ hearts for machinery to run, and had its help to do some
of the drudgery that necessarily comes on the farm.

What are a few hundred dollars spent for an engine and machinery
to satisfy the boy and keep him contented on the farm, and have his
help and companionship, and see him grow up a sturdy, robust,
self-reliant man, compared to the loss that comes from the absence
of the boy from the home? A neighbor said to me a short time ago,
‘When my boy is two years older I shall buy an engine and as
fast as possible get the machinery for it to run; the boy is crazy
about an engine.’ That man is on the right track to keep his
boy on the farm.

Special thanks to Intertec Publishing, now known as Primedia
Business, for permission to reprint this article.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines