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… What Got You Interested?

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By Staff

SmokStak

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.

Published on Jun 1, 2004

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines