Young Boy For Old Engines
Tony with a Lauson, Briggs and Maytag.
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.