... What Got You Interested?

| June/July 2004

  • Blow Smoke

  • Blow Smoke


I was thinking it would be nice to read about what got people interested in old iron? I'll post my story later on. Mac 

When I was about 10, I helped my friend and his stepdad on a farm where they used a John Deere Styled B. They took me to Rough & Tumble, and I was hooked!  Mike 

I got into old iron because of my son. We were at an engine and tractor show near Pittsburgh, Pa., several years ago. My cousin had some engines at the show, and my son spent many hours starting and stopping a little Maytag. By the end of the show, my father had bought my son one Briggs engine, and I bought him another. The following spring, we went to a 4-H small-engine class that met once a week for six weeks. We got one of the engines running at the class and were hooked.

As a result of continued involvement in the 4-H small-engine program, my son has won several 4-H county fair small-engine trophies, including the Maryland state fair junior, intermediate and senior state championships, and placed fifth at the national 4-H engineering competition.

We now attend 15-18 engine shows a year. Unfortunately, my son goes away to college this fall, so I'll just have to carry on by myself. We've made many good friends on the engine show circuit. Leonard 

I was always attracted to the old flywheel engines because they looked so 'antique.' I wasted a few years playing with old cars - too much expense and too hard to store. The best part of this hobby is the people you meet. There are more friendly folks than you meet in the auto crowd. George 

When I was 16 (I'm now 30), my brother and I restored my father's 1941 John Deere H. The H had been under a tarp for five or six years and prior to that it was used to haul wood. It didn't take too long to get it running again.

The tractor is all original, and the engine has never been apart. It took us all summer to sand and scrape it by hand, but it came out really well. I still have that tractor, and it's still gleaming 14 years after that restoration.

The H has been followed by six other tractors, 13 (and growing) stationary engines and around 35-40 (and growing) small air-cooled engines, fanning mills, corn shellers and one threshing machine. I love this hobby and devote any of the 'free time' I have to it after working a full-time job and running our farm. Bruce 

I was born and raised a city boy and had no clue that old iron even existed. In the early 1990s, a co-worker and now friend said to me one day, 'Come to one of these farm shows - they have these engines I think you will like.' That was all it took to set the hook.

Now, I have a 42-foot semi trailer full of engines and numerous items in a garage. As always, I extend an open invitation to anyone passing through Cincinnati, Ohio, to see my old iron. Andrew 

Well, here's my story. In 2000, I went to the Pacific Coast dream machines show - old cars being the reason for going. While I was there, I saw some of the old engines that were on display, and once a few were running I had to have one. What a great sound!

Well, I started looking and came across many old-engine Web sites that were good for learning about old iron. I went to a swap meet looking for an engine, and a Stover CT-3 is what I found. I wasn't able to buy it because the owner couldn't come down, and I was still $100 short. I almost bought a fully restored 1HC LB engine for $200, but it wasn't what I wanted. My father knew of a cement mixer that had an engine on it, and I bought it not knowing the condition or make.

That was December of last year. I'm now waiting for parts. It's a complete 3 HP 1923 Jaeger. Well, that's my story, and I should add that I've always been into old tools and equipment -and always will!  Mac 

In 1970, our county fair celebrated its 50th anniversary. Several people got together in an area there and displayed various pieces of old equipment. After seeing all of that, my boys - then ages 4 and 7 - thought we needed an old tractor.

Our first tractor was a nice, original 1930 IHC 10-20. Early in 1973, we were given a 3 HP Fairbanks-Morse Z. By now, I've owned some 25 tractors and 200 engines, and we've managed to hang on to about a quarter of them. Glen 

Mac, I started with a WD-45 wide-front and then a 1953 John Deere 40S wide-front, and now I've got a Farmall Cub. This is over the last five years. I don't have room for more tractors, so I started buying engines in May 2002 at Portland. Now I've got seven, I'm still on the hunt, and I've been bitten by the bug! Byron 

I was working in the emergency room one night, sewing up a mangled finger on a husky farm boy. 'How did you do that?' I asked. 'Got it caught in my Bulldog,' he said. 'Huh? Did he bite you or did you catch your finger in his chain?'

He explained his 'Bulldog' was a hit-and-miss engine and invited me to see it at the show the next day. I did, and now I have a lighter wallet and about a dozen of my own engines from that first 1-1/2 HP Economy to the 20 HP Reid and 20 HP Bessemer. Great hobby, great people, true story. Larry 

Way back in 1979, when I was 10, my dad brought home a Maytag engine. It was found in a basement and was full of water, but he managed to get it running. I thought it was the neatest thing ever!

My dad's interest faded after the Maytag, but mine grew immensely. I've been collecting antique construction equipment for about the last 10 years, but recently have been enjoying a renewed interest in the one-lungers. Mike 

In 1975 or so, an old friend and neighbor called to say he was moving, and he had something for me. He knew I tinkered with old mowers that my dad brought home for me, so he gave me a FM 1-1/2 HP headless that he said he bought at auction for $2.25 years before. I set it on fire, got the life shocked out of me and then figured out how to make it run.

Then I lucked onto a $50 12 HP Bulldog that summer, and it was all down hill from there. Now, my son Thomas (11) is involved, and I hope he stays with it. We have a lot of engines that need work! Randy 

I have never been without old engines because my dad started collecting some years before I was born. I got into models and small steam engines when I was a kid, as they were more my size then. I always found these engines interesting because they were built before all the rules and standards were set on how the 'ideal' engine should be.

I think the best part of the hobby is the people and the friends I've made. Good thread, Mac! Nick 

I have posted many messages, but none have been better than this. The stories that are coming from all of you are great. I have enjoyed reading them all. I hope there are still more! Mac 

SmokStak (www.enginads.com/ smokstak.cgi) is an engine conversation bulletin board with over 50,000 messages on file, and is part of the Old Engine series of Web sites that started in 1995 as 'Harry's Old Engine.' Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Owego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla.


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