1918 Stover Engine Restoration

By Staff
1 / 3
David Upham and his Bessemer at Tombstone Courthouse State Park at the third annual Antique Power Show, October 1992.
2 / 3
Bill and Mary Lynn Cline of Mesa, Arizona, had this exceptional collection of Maytag engines and paraphernalia at the show. Friday tractor
3 / 3
David Sandve of St. David, Arizona does some laundry at our show. Nice restoration!

At the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park of Tombstone,
Arizona, a unit of the Arizona State Park system. The park consists
of the first Cochise County Courthouse and a collection of some
17,000 artifacts, among which is a mine hoist powered by a Stover
engine. The park is funded through the state’s general fund and
other funds. However the state has a record of not very generously
funding projects, such as the one described here. Thus the park may
in some cases rely heavily on volunteers. This is the story of some
of those volunteers.

Sometime in 1988 my boss, on an inspection tour, looked at our
one cylinder engine mated to a mine hoist, rusting quietly in the
shed and said, as bosses are sometimes apt to do at such moments,
‘Let’s start it.’ Of course, I knew right away that he
didn’t expect to go over, turn the big flywheel and see the
thing come to life in a cloud of smoke. It couldn’t be that
simple; what he meant was, ‘Let’s restore it and then start

At a previous job I had rushed in where angels feared to tread
and as a result had spent eight years restoring Arizona’s first
printing press, so I was considerably more dubious than he.
‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ I asked. ‘Oh you
can do it,’ he replied, (those famous words so frequently
spoken by those who don’t have to do ‘it’). ‘But we
don’t even know what kind it is,’ I managed to say before
he launched into his standard pep talk for foot-dragging employees.
(Actually I was setting him up, making certain he was prepared to
make the commitment of time and resources on what promised to be a
fun project for me; once he got through that pep talk he
couldn’t back out!)

Following a conversation which transpired more or less as
outlined above, we began to seriously pursue the restoration of the
engine. The first step was to get in touch with the collectors, and
we soon attended the Arizona Fly wheelers show at the home of
Graydon Gaudy in Cottonwood. Once these contacts were made we
rather quickly determined that the engine was a Stover. It took a
little more time to find that it was a model X, 8 HP. It also
appears probable that the machine was purchased from Zork Hardware
Company of El Paso. (The reason these items took so long to learn
was that the brass name plates disappeared years ago.)

But there was more than just the engine; the engine was mated to
a mine hoist. The hoist company had made a casting to fit both the
engine and hoist as a base and bolted the two together to make one
fairly compact unit, which could be transported to a remote mine
site by a team of horses.

At about this point in the project the volunteers began to
assert themselves. First, of course, came the advice you can pick
up at any of the engine shows, some of it good and some of which
falls into the same category a lawyer friend mentioned as he once
gave me some free legal advice, ‘You realize that this advice
is worth every penny I’m charging you for it,’ he said. But
Gordon Gaudy came through with a 12 HP Stover for us to use in
parts trades, and ads in GEM did the job of bringing in inquiries
from all over and enough parts to make a good start.

Now it was time to take up local Soil Conservation Service
employee and amateur machinist, Ron Bemis, on his offer of parts
fabrication. We also needed photos and possible patterns for parts
which were acquired from Kent Reed of Mesa, (for a look at his
Stover restoration see GEM December, 1991). We asked Mr. Bemis if
he could pour the bearings, to which he replied he probably knew
enough about it to be dangerous. We were about to appeal in the Fly
wheelers newsletter that we needed the bearings poured, when Bemis
happened to mention the project and the need for bearings to a
friend, Mr. John Zamar, area supervisor of operations for
Phelps-Dodge Mining Company who said he thought they poured
bearings in their shop.

So far P-D, as the company is locally known, is the biggest
volunteer, at least in terms of resources and the ability to bring
them together to bear on a problem. We know there are collectors
out there who could pour the bearings, but getting equipment,
materials, men etc. together can be the largest obstacle, whereas
in this case all we had to do was deliver the parts to the company
machine shop where foreman Jim Walker and machinist Roger McGinnis
took over. A few weeks later they called to let us know that the
engine was ready to be picked up. (Now that’s pouring bearings
the easy way, as far as we were concerned!)

Right now the engine is being reassembled and, barring really
bad luck, should be running by next year’s annual engine show
in October. Which leads to the second part of this article. Each
year the park sponsors an antique power show in conjunction with
the town’s annual ‘Hell dorado Days’ celebration. The
photos accompanying this article are of last year’s show. The
action in Tombstone continues to be a little ‘different’
than most shows.

The major thrust of the ‘Hell dorado Days’ is
celebration of Tombstone’s interesting and frequently violent
past as the west’s rowdiest boom town. But in 1990 the park
began the power show to help visitors understand that there is
actually much more to that history than Wyatt Earp, outlaws and
violence. There were also miners, businessmen, blacksmiths, harness
makers, housewives, and hundreds of other citizens who made
Tombstone, in spite of its lurid name, one of the more desirable
places to live in the interior west. If you are interested in the
1993 show contact the Tombstone Courthouse, State Historic Park,
Box 216, Tombstone, Arizona 85638 for information.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines