5 HP Stover Engine and the Case of Dynamite

Stover Stuff: A very original horizontal tank-cooled 5 HP Stover engine rescued from a case of dynamite

| April/May 2012

Stover Engine Works

The Stover ID plate as seen through the working grease.  

The Stover engine auction

I got a call from a friend wanting information on an early Stover tank-cooled engine. Since he doesn’t collect engines, I was a little curious about his request. It was simple: He worked for an auction company, they had this engine on an upcoming estate sale, and he wanted all the information he could get for the sale bill.

The auction was on the Fred Kelley Centennial Farm south of Franklin Grove, Ill. The Kelleys obviously never got rid of anything because there was something there for everyone. Cars, trucks, tractors, furniture, dishes; you name it, and it was up for auction. Old original merchandise filled the cattle and house yards and many hayracks.

I went to the sale in an effort to buy the 5 HP Stover engine and maybe get a story. Didn’t get the engine, but I got a good story.

Case of dynamite vs. the barn

Driving up to the location of the sale, one immediately noticed that the barn and some adjacent buildings had recently burned down, and some of the old iron equipment and a few of the trees looked darned scorched. It wasn’t hard to get the story from one of the sale volunteers. While helping move machinery and sale items out of the barn, someone noticed an old case of dynamite in the back corner of the barn.

Now you and I would have probably kept on getting the stuff out of the barn while steering clear of the dynamite. Not so. Long story short, one of the volunteers was on the local fire department and he got in touch with a bomb squad or some such official organization and that put the brakes on everything. No one could go in the barn and nothing else could be taken out.

The decision was made to burn the barn down to prevent the dynamite from blowing somebody to pieces. You would think while the barn was burning, a beam or something could have fallen on the dynamite, which might have actually set it off. But what do I know?