The Unusual 1910 Stickney

An Iowa engine collector acquires and restores a 1910 Stickney, right down to the cart.

| October/November 2017

  • Steve Alt with his Stickney display at the 2012 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Stickney as found; it looks better than it was, needing a full restoration.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Stickney in primer after welding to fix the freeze crack in the hopper and restore the raised lettering.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A few days later with a fresh coat of "Stickney Blue" paint and the hopper sight glass installed.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • You'd never know looking now, but the hopper and lettering on the Stickney were badly damaged from freezing. It now looks perfect.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The finished engine on display at Mt. Pleasant following an 11-month restoration.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Steve's restoration is faithful to the original, right down to the cart, which he built himself.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A front view of the Stickney showing its unique battery box.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A closer look at the base of the engine. The attention to detail is impressive, with nice work everywhere you look.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A rear view of the engine shows the rocker arm and the long pushrod for the exhaust valve (at left).
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The access plate for the governor shows the name of Ontario Wind Engine & Pump Co., Ontario, Canada, a major agent for Stickney engines.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A 1912 advertisement for Stickney engines. Although the exact date is unknown, it's believed Stickney gas engine production ended about 1913, after perhaps less than 15 years of production.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

1910 3 hp Stickney

Manufacturer: Charles A. Stickney Co., St. Paul, MN
Year: 1910
Serial Number: 10842
Horsepower: 3 hp
Bore & stroke: 5in x 6in
Flywheel dia: 30in
Ignition: Igniter w/battery & coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss, Stickney pat'd crankshaft governor
Cooling: Hopper
Weight: 1,275lb (engine only)


Steve Alt of West Liberty, Iowa, fell in love with Stickney gas engines years ago visiting the local Muscatine County Fair when he was young. “Every year this guy brought three engines and sat on a lawn chair with an umbrella,” Steve remembers, adding. “They were always Stickneys, including a little 1-3/4 horse. I’ve always loved that style and loved that look. The Stickney is one of the first engines I loved.”

Steve wanted that 1-1/2 hp Stickney badly, so when it came up at auction in 1988, he borrowed $2,000 from the bank, hoping that would be enough to make it his. “That still couldn’t buy it,” Steve says. “It sold for way more than I could afford.”

Steve kept hoping that someday he’d own a Stickney, and finally in 2011 he found a 3 hp 1910 Stickney for sale from a collector in Willmar, Minnesota. “I contacted him, and we met in Omaha, Nebraska, late one night. He unloaded it off his trailer, and I loaded it onto mine. I went back home and he went to Texas to deliver two or three more,” Steve remembers.



An 11-month odyssey

As purchased, the engine was in pretty rough shape. “The reproduction gas tank wasn’t correct, and it had used ‘hard water’ at one time, as we joke when an engine has frozen up. This one had frozen water in the bottom and it cracked from the bottom up through the Stickney letters on both sides of the engine. It had been partly welded together.” Steve decided to redo the entire engine, “to reproduce everything to the Nth degree.” That took a lot of research and time.

Steve spent the next 11 months going through the entire engine. “That meant four to five hours a day, and weekends, nonstop working on the engine,” Steve says. “Almost all my spare time, easily 20-30 hours a week.”