Young Boy For Old Engines

By Staff
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Tony with a Lauson, Briggs and Maytag.
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Jason and Tony and Maytag washer.
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Jason with part of his tool collection.

Star Route Quakertown, PA 18951

When our son Tony was born, I used to kid that we could have put
him in the bottom drawer of our Snap-On tool box, and it would have
made an ideal crib for him. He was only about eight months old,
sitting with an old carburetor, and putting in and taking out the
screws but never putting any pieces in his mouth. He never played
with blocks, but used to sit for hours with his dad’s fitting
box, putting fittings together into strange-looking assemblies. He
certainly took after his dad, who is a mechanical genius (at least
as far as I’m concerned) and seems to know everything about
every trade under the sun.

One day an acquaintance mentioned the Rough and Tumble show at
Kinzers, PA, and we decided to take Tony, since we thought he’d
be interested. He was then about a year and a half, and we pushed
him around in a stroller. The main word in his vocabulary then was
‘eng’-short for engine-and he had come up with that before
he said ‘mama’.

For several years after that first visit to Kinzers, it became a
highlight of our summers. But it was Tony who took the first step
in actually participating. Someone had given him an old Briggs and
Stratton engine, which, at the age of eight, he fixed up and
painted. Then he announced that he was going to display it in the
Rough and Tumble’s gas engine section.

Tony’s initial impetus led the whole family into our first
purchase. We had been admiring these engines for several years, and
finally said, ‘Well, why not us, too?’ So we ended up
buying a Fairbanks Morse Z out at Kinzers. From then on we were
hooked, and our collection now includes a 1? HP Economy, a 1? HP
Stover, a 1? HP United, a 6 HP Galloway Masterpiece, and an upright
Araco.

Tony also began collecting. For the past five years (he is now
thirteen) he has steadily maintained that he intends to open his
own lawnmower/small engine service when he graduates from high
school. Friends give him old mowers and garden tractors, or he buys
them, and reconditions or rebuilds them, and sells them. Saving his
money from this and from the pay he gets for working with his
father in his air conditioning/refrigeration business, Tony puts
half his money aside for business expenses and uses the other half
for ‘fun’- acquiring more old engines and parts. So far he
has built up a sizeable collection of old B&S’s, Lausons,
Reos, and Wisconsins, but the pride of his hobby are several May
tags, a Fairbanks ‘D’ and a 1? HP Cushman Cub. All of these
were purchased with his own money. At the age of eleven he also
started collecting spark plugs, after a good friend, Paul
Sea-christ, encouraged him in this direction, and Jim Hardman also
kindly gave Tony help.

Obviously our second little boy, Jason, had a tough act to
follow. Jason is as different from Tony as night from day. He is
not mechanical, and enjoys drawing and reading, so he seems to take
after my side of the family while Tony takes after his dad’s.
And it’s probably a defense mechanism, too. Why compete, when
you know you’re beat? But being a very ingenious little
eight-year-old, Jason came up with his own collection to display at
the various engine shows we go to-he displays farm toys and antique
tools.

All in all, this has become a real family hobby, with all of us
participating-Tony and his father Joe do the mechanical work, and
Jason and I do the repainting. But if it weren’t for Tony and
his little Briggs and Stratton, we never would have found out how
much fun this engine mania can be, nor made some of the wonderful
friends that we have met in pursuing this hobby.

Gas Engine Magazine
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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines