1909 Root & Vandervoort A Lucky Engine

1909 8 HP Sideshaft, Serial Number E8763

| June/July 2002

Jerry Balvin's 1909 Root & Vandervoort. Rated at 8 HP, this sideshaft, volume-governed engine was one of R & V's finest engines. Engines in this class were available either with or without a mounting base, and as either hopper-cooled or tank-cooled. Jerry's engine was originally equipped as you see it here, complete with clutch pulley. These volume-governed engines featured a volatilizer attached to the exhaust box and a heater tray under the air intake pipe to ensure starting in cold climates.

Some people are lucky. Some engines are lucky. This is a story about both; Jerry Balvin and a 1909 Root & Vandervoort 8 HP sideshaft engine.

Jerry is a farm equipment service technician in Toledo, Iowa. During his farm calls, he'll often ask about old engines that may need discovering. Most leads are dead ends. However, he heard about an abandoned farmstead and a rumor that an old engine had been seen in the corncrib.

Jerry knew the place, it had been a premier grain and livestock operation in the early 1900s, but had long since fallen into disuse - 80 years of neglect had resulted in sheds falling down around horse-drawn equipment with overgrown brush everywhere. After securing permission to enter the property, he went to the corn crib, opened the crib doors and found ... nothing. That didn't stop Jerry. He thought back 80 years to what might have happened to a stationary engine replaced by a tractor or electricity. Noticing that the south end of the crib sloped away to a tree/brush undercover, Jerry thought an engine might have been pushed out the crib, left to roll down the hill into the valley and forgotten. His intuition paid off, as 10 yards into the brush was the old engine he been told about. But not just any old engine, this was a 1909 Root & Vandervoort sideshaft (lucky Jerry).

Closer inspection showed the farm wagon truck the engine sat on had rotted away, leaving the unit partially buried. Jerry later learned that the Root & Vandervoort powered a lineshaft in the crib for a sheller and large gristmill for livestock feed. It was also used to power an elevator in the fall.

Bill's skills as a painter are clearly evident in the finished product. Also clearly visible in the photo above is the rotary-drive Wizard magneto that sparks the R & V.


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