A Job With Perks

Glenn Karch did a lot of traveling for his job and sometimes it paid off with engines like this 1910 3 HP Perkins

| October 2008


It's a common story among engine collectors: Younger collectors approach older collectors about purchasing a particular engine and the latter can't bring themselves to part with it, perhaps hoping they'll find a way to restore it themselves.

Over time - and it could be many, many years - the older collectors realize it's time to part with the engine, and if the younger collectors have been appropriately persistent, their patience is rewarded. Glenn Karch, Haubstadt, Ind., played the role of the younger collector when it came to the acquisition of his 1910 3 HP Perkins.

The beginning of a long wait

"I worked for Pioneer Seed in southern Indiana, and I travelled all over in charge of the salesmen," says Glenn. "On one trip, I stopped to see one of my salesmen and we were just talking. A neighbor comes up and I casually ask if anyone knows of any engines in the area. He says, 'I know of one in this shop right next to where I live.' So we go over to this machine shop on the farm and I see the engine sitting on a concrete pedestal with a line shaft to the ceiling."

Glenn discovered the engine was a Perkins and that it served several purposes back in the day. In addition to running a pump jack for a cistern, the owner of the engine - the grandson of the original purchaser - explained that the engine also ran a feed grinder, metal grinder, water pump and was even hooked up with wire lines connected to a pump in the house. The bad news was that the owner wasn't ready to part with it quite yet. Fortunately, Glenn never forgot about it. "I kept inquiring about that engine for years and years," says Glenn. "I even went back to see it once and the shop was gone and the engine was off to the side."

Patience pays off

In 2000, Glenn sent the owner a letter, which sparked the correspondence that led to his purchase of the engine. "He said, 'I'm 89 years old and I don't think I'll do anything with it,'" says Glenn. "He told me to make him an offer and I asked what he had in mind. He said, 'You have a better idea about what it's worth than I do.' So I made him an offer and he said, 'That's too high - I'll take $200 less.'"

Upon picking up the engine a few days later, Glenn saw that the engine required some considerable work. "It was rusted, stuck and had been connected to a spark plug, but the spark plug was gone, and mice had been living in the valve chamber and cylinder for some time," says Glenn. "Everything was in poor shape; it took a lot of ingenuity to figure out how to use what was left of the valves."