Love at First Sight!


| July/August 2001



25 HP Bessemer Engine

2052 North Ridge Road Painesville, Ohio 44077

Three years ago, I had no interest in antique gas engines. My cousin, Ronnie, had been collecting them for more than twenty years. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to waste time and money on a gas engine, let alone collect them. Ronnie encouraged me to go to an engine show with him one weekend. After thinking about it, I finally agreed. What an eye opener, and that is an understatement.

The first show we went to was at Coolspring, followed by a lot of other shows in Pennsylvania, topped off with Sistersville, West Virginia, and Portland, Indiana. I just couldn't believe the interest in antique gas engines, and this tickled my fancy. I do like antiques and old collectibles that are unusual so I was beginning to think that maybe gas engines weren't such a bad investment after all.

You probably won't believe this, but the very first engine I purchased at an auction was a Royal Crown gas engine. It was built in 1883 and had a flame-licker ignition. It was a museum quality engine with all original parts and in excellent condition. However, it was small, and I didn't have much interest in it initially. That was before I had inquired what it might be worth. Many people were interested in purchasing it. They called me from all over the country inquiring about it. Bottom line, I sold it for a nice profit.

I really wanted a much larger engine, something like those big oil field engines. I own and operate a screen printing business and embroidery company, and I wanted to use it as an ornament or landmark, for my business. My original thought was to purchase one from Ronnie, who owns about 185 engines, all sizes, types and horsepowers. I asked him if he would sell me one of his. I told him I just wanted an old engine. It didn't have to be running or have all the parts. After all, I was just going to use it as an ornament. I couldn't have been more wrong. He said, knowing me, I would want to get the engine in top running shape with lots of brass and pin striping!

I told him that I wanted an engine that would make a statement. He said look around his collection (remember, 185 old engines), and maybe I would see something I liked. He asked me what type of engine or horsepower I was looking for. I told him I hadn't a clue, because I don't know a thing about engines, but I was looking for something between 15 and 30 HP, primarily for the size. He suggested a 25 HP Bessemer. I asked him where it was. He told me I walked by it every time I was looking at his engines. He forgot to mention it was overgrown with vines, brush, ground cover and other items that were stacked up against it.