Portland 2003

The Spotlight was on Engines at the year's Biggest Show

| November/December 2003

How many engines are too many? I don't think there's anybody in the old iron collective who can answer that question, at least not honestly. The more you look around, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more engines you want. There are so many different styles, so many engines with different solutions to the same mechanical problem that it's impossible to say 'when.'

This basic fact creates an even bigger problem whenever you go to a show, because you're bound to trip across at least one engine you've either never seen, never heard of or just have to have, for whatever reason. This problem is made even worse when the engine show in question happens to be the annual gas-engine extravaganza that is Portland. Aug. 20-24 witnessed the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Association's 38th Annual Anniversary Reunion, and like most of the 37 shows that came before, it was a knockout event.


With something in the neighborhood of 2,000 engines showing up at Portland every year, it's pretty much impossible to imagine you'll have seen every engine that's displayed at the show. Engines on display range from the ultra rare to the most common, and between those two ends of the engine spectrum almost anything is possible.

Take, for example, the Joyner double-acting tandem that John Davidson, Bristol, Wis., had on display. Built about 1920, the Joyner is a marvel of engineering prowess, addressing mechanical issues most of us have likely never even pondered. With two pistons running in-line, and firing on both ends, the Joyner operates as a four-cylinder engine with a common connecting rod, and it was unquestionably the most unique engine at this year's show.

Paul Jackson gets his 6 HP 1913 IHC tank-cooled Famous ready to run. Paul bought the engine from its original owners 40 years ago. Sitting on non-original trucks, the engine is otherwise very original, down to the battery box, cooling screen and air shield.

Gary Shonk's 1-1/2 HP Royal, serial no. 1257. Very little is known about the engine's builder, Smith & Sons Mfg. Co., Kansas City, Mo., and this is one of the only known surviving examples from the company.


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