2910 Maple Road Manistee, Michigan 49660
It was a cold winter night, February 10, 1974, when twenty-one people gathered at the Riverton Township hall in Mason County, half-way between the cities of Scottville and Ludington, Michigan, to the south of U.S. 10 and east of U.S. 31.
At this meeting a club was formed for families interested in restoring and running old gas hit and miss engines, steam engines or other antique equipment.
Names for the club were discussed at the first meeting. Fred Donohue made the motion to name the club Western Michigan Old Engine Club.
Lyle Hanley holds the honor of being the club's first president and remains an active member. It's Lyle's shingle mill that delights many visitors in the making of shingles at the annual show held every year the first full weekend in August.
James Albitis makes a new branding iron each year. He stamps shingles right off the shingle mill during the show. These shingles, with the club's brand on them, are placed for sale to the public.
The show features a variety of antique engines and tractors as well as other items. One of the antique engines is a Franklin Valveless. Found by James Albaitis in Eastlake, Michigan. Albaitis told Charles Hargreaves (then club president) about the engine. Hargreaves found the engine had been transported to East Lake in the late 1800's by the Rademaker family. The Franklin Valveless was used at brine wells, pumping from depths of 2,400 feet. This engine has flywheels of 5 feet and is approximately 50 horse power. It starts by heating a glop lug located in the cylinder head with a blow torch until the plug is red hot. With three men on each wheel rolling the flywheels forward, drawing the starting fluid into the cylinder, the wheels reverse backwards against the compression stroke, firing the fuel, which in turn will start the engine. Then the wheels reverse to a forward running motion.
One has to see this engine with its big wheels and hear the soft pup-pup to realize just how quietly it runs..
The Franklin Valveless engine was donated to the Western Michigan Old Engine Club by the Martin Marietta Chemicals Refractories Division of Eastlake, Michigan, who had used it for many years to pump brine, in much the same way as it had nearly a hundred years ago.