An Interesting August

By Staff
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The 2-1/2 HP United, ready for the trip to its new home. Four hours after getting it home, Chan had the United running.
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Carburetor casting on Mogul is broken, but can be repaired.
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The United as found, very complete and sitting in the shed where it had been left undisturbed for some 60 years.
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Chan's Mogul gets ready to go to its new home. It's rusty, but all there!

I had an interesting August this year, and I thought I would
share my experiences with GEM readers.

First Find

At the beginning of the month I took my big 22-1/2 HP Bessemer
to our first parking lot antique tractor show here in Oneida, N.Y.
The Bessie ran very well all day, blowing big smoke rings about 150
feet straight up. A real crowd pleaser, and besides, the tractors
mostly just sit there. At one point a man came up to me, telling me
about an 1860s Wood, Taber & Morse stationary steam engine in
his shop. He said he might want to sell it, and wondered if I would
be interested. Two days later I was at his shop looking at it, and
the following week Steve Knobloch from the Camillus, N.Y., museum
came over and we went and looked at it together. The engine was
disassembled, but very complete, as I soon learned. In fact, it
came with manuals, sketches, notes, history, just about everything
you could possibly hope for. Steve and I conferred briefly and then
I discussed a price with the owner. Shortly thereafter I was
writing a check for the Wood, Taber & Morse.

I told Steve that since he was kind enough to help me check out
this gem their museum could have first crack at it if they were
interested in owning it. Silly way to put it, as I should have been
able to tell from the way he was drooling over the engine that he
was quite interested in it.

A day or two later he called me back and said the museum would
take the engine, asking me please not to sell it to anyone else. We
made a deal, and now the old girl will have a very good permanent
home – and knowledgeable people to tend to it. It is nice having it
stay ‘home’ in N.Y. where it was made, as the Wood, Taber
& Morse factory was in Eaton, N.Y., not 100 yards from the
house where my grandmother, my grandfather and my mom lived between
1910 and 1945! No doubt some of my relatives on that side of the
family worked in the factory at some point in time, as they had
lived in the Eaton area since the mid-1800s. And not only does it
get to stay nearby, 1 am told it may be the only Wood, Taber &
Morse steam engine in the east.

Second Find

Early in the month I placed a small ‘Wanted – old gas
engines’ ad in a local ‘PennySaver’-type paper that
comes out once a week. It doesn’t cost much to run an ad, and I
figured maybe I’d get a bite. A few weeks later a fellow calls
saying he saw my ad, and asks if I would like to come see his old
‘steam engine,’ which he says has been sitting forgotten in
the back of a shed for 60 years.

I went over the next evening, and what I discovered was not a
steam engine, but a nice, dirty, loose and complete 2-1/2 HP
United. He asked what I thought it was worth. I scratched my head
and named what I thought was a fair price. He said okay, and the
next thing I knew I had a nice United engine. It was missing one
governor weight, had a nice four-bolt crossways mag, the nameplate
was there (it was under seven layers of grease), even the original
starting crank was in the water hopper – they often are.

A few days later, armed with a trailer and the necessary tools,
rollers, come-alongs, chains, etc., and accompanied by my wife,
Kay, and my daughter, Beth, I went and picked it up. I brought the
engine home, and after about four hours lubing everything and
freeing up the igniter I cranked it up – off she went, running as
sweetly as anything. It has excellent compression, but I have to
control the speed manually
(‘thumb-and-forefinger-governor’) as one weight is broken
off – Coolsprings here we come! My daughter helped me get it going
on its first run, squirting in gas as I choked it and cranked it,
and after it fired we ran it for eight or nine minutes – she was

Third Find

A week later I was out doing my job (I’m a part-time
photographer for Trader Publications, photographing cars,
trucks, boats, cycles, and what-have-you for ads) and I got to
talking with a man about my hobby. He told me about a fellow up the
road with an old engine in a shed. Naturally I went and looked him
up, and it turned out he had an engine stored in the lower part of
a large barn. Upon seeing it, I immediately recognized it as a
2-1/2 HP IHC Mogul, throttle-governed, with igniter. It was stuck,
the mag was gone, the carb was a little rough, but other than that
a very restorable engine – even the fuel pump was intact. A good
project engine for those cold winter months.

He asked me what I thought it was worth, I told him what I would
give for it, and he said ‘Sold!’ So, for the second time in
the same month my daughter came along with me and helped me bring
an engine home. It’s presently sitting in my shop, sprayed with
a liberal coating of penetrating oil and waiting its turn to be

I first got into this hobby in the mid-1960s, and over the next
15 years I bought about 800 engines. At one point dame fortune
turned her back on me: I lost my job, my wife got sick, we had to
file for the big B, and I was forced to sell my favorites. And I
had some good ones: five Abenaques, a 10 HP Pohl, a Callahan, a
Domestic, a Titan, a 1 HP Rumsey; and a lot more. I wish I could
have kept them, but in the last 10 years we managed to get our
financial feet back, and now, as Arnold S. would say in the movies,
‘I’m back!’

Since starting over three years ago, I’ve acquired 51
engines, and I have six or eight good ones that I hope to keep this
time. My favorite is a 6 HP C.P.&J. Lauson tank-cooled, side
shaft Badger on a wagon, one of only three known to exist. I hope
to do a nice write-up on it sometime soon. For now, I thought you
fellows (and at least one girl named Melissa I know who has an
Associated she is going to restore) would like to hear how the
month of August treated me.

The old iron is still out there, at least in some places it is.
Follow all your leads, ask a bunch of questions, and always carry a
good photo or two of some typical engines with you wherever you
roam – nothing beats a good picture for a conversation starter. As
they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or maybe a good

Contact engine enthusiast Chan Mason at: 3755 Mason Road,
Oneida, NY 13421, or e-mail:

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