Route I, Box 459A Sugar Grove, North Carolina 28679
In 1964, I started collecting gasoline JL engines. Dad encouraged my interest through the good example he set. Whenever he started anything, it was with the goal of getting the job finished, but most importantly, he wanted to do it properly. The blood which flows in our veins came from ancestors that were carpenters, farmers, millers, threshermen, saw-millers and industrial steam engineers-all of whom believed that hard work builds strength and character.
Dad's collection of electric and steam railroad lanterns began in the late 50s. Our home then was Hilliard, Ohio, during my teen years, I spent many hours helping clean the wire frames and other lantern parts in our workshop. Hard work and patience are necessary to restore a lantern to like-new condition.
Searching for lanterns took us to many places. On one occasion our family ended up at the home and former scrap yard of Theslyn B. Collins of Broadway, Ohio. Dad talked to Mr. Collins about several cases of lantern globes, which turned out to be for farm lanterns. While Mr. Collins was telling Dad about operating a scrap yard in years past, my brother Don and I decided to look around. In the yard were bits and pieces of pre-1930 cars and a Model-A truck. While I was checking out the old truck, Don yelled out, 'Hey Ray, come see what I have found.' Half buried in a hog wallow was a 1? HP Emerson Branting ham Type-U. The search was on, and we turned up 10 engines-3 I.H.C., 3 Hercules, Associated, Empire, and a Root & Vandervoort.
These engines had been rusting away in the weeds for some 20 years. There were no oilers, magnetos or fuel pumps; the only brass parts that remained were some name tags. My brother bought them all for scrap price. Dad's friend, Quentin Hargus, had a truck and arrangements were made to move the engines to our home at Hilliard, Ohio. This brought my brother's collection to a total of 12 engines. I was catching the engine bug, but it didn't have a hold on me yet.
That all changed one Saturday when Dad and I went to the Washington Court House Gun Show and Flea Market. We were roaming among the many displays when I discovered a 34 HP Ideal Air-cooled. The crank-shaft was broken, valves were stuck, and part of the governor was missing. I bought it for a whopping big $6.00. Dad assumed it was for my brother's collection. He didn't realize that the engine bug had just bit me. He found out on the way home that I was keeping the Ideal. Dad encouraged our engine collecting, and the three of us restored the Ideal.
Through the show ads in the Iron-Men Album, we kept up and planned our summer shows for 1965. This was just one year from the beginning of Gas Engine Magazine. During 1965, we operated and displayed our engines at Urbanna, New Concord, Lancaster, Dover and Mansfield, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Our mother and sister also attended most of the shows.
In the spring of 1966, we moved our family and collections of lanterns and engines to the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. Today Dad works as a maintenance engineer at Watauga Hospital, and he is still collecting and restoring lanterns. Don works for 'Tweetsie' a narrow-gauge tourist railroad. He helps maintain two steam locomotives and still collects gas engines and watch fobs. I work in the mechanical maintenance department at Vermont American, Boone Division. My collection consists of gas engines, a portable steam engine, a Bremen hot-air pumping engine, and a 1932 Caterpillar '20'.