3744 Barron Memphis, Tennessee 38111
The Burford family of Memphis, Tennessee father Albert and sons
Chris, Kevin, and Keithare long-time collectors and restorers of
antique flywheel engines. Their passion for this hobby is why one
summer day, when Albert saw an old, rusty engine sitting by the
side of the road, he wanted a second look. He talked to the owner,
Mr. A. S. Pat Hamner, and his sister, Ms. Essie Anthony. They both
had long hoped to see the engine run again. They agreed to let him
and his sons take and restore it to former glory. The Burfords’
research revealed that the engine is a twelve horsepower
International Harvester Victor, serial number NA 188. According to
the International Harvester History Book, it is the first kerosene,
throttle governed Victor of 1914. Mr. Hamner’s and Ms.
Anthony’s father, Albert Ross Hamner, bought the engine
sometime before he married in 1923. It is believed he bought it
new, though the exact purchase date is not known. He and his wife
owned and operated a general mercantile store and grist mill in
Pisgah, a small town in Tennessee. The engine was used to run the
grist mill. In 1925, he moved the grist mill one and one-half miles
down the road, where it became a very successful business.
Ms. Essie remembers the care and devotion her father showed for
the engine when she was a child. ‘Mill Day’ was every
Saturday. Before the engine was ever started it was gone over with
oil. He was sure it always had the right amount of oil in it, and
it was always Gulf State (that was the best in his opinion). Water
for cooling always had to be just right.
People came from all around with their corn to have it ground
into meal. It was measured in a one-half bushel metal container,
then a measure of one-twelfth of a bushel was taken out for the
grinding. A fine, white dust settled on everything in the mill
house, and Mr. Hamner’s hat was always white because of it.
The mill house was shut down in 1935 because of Mr. Hamner’s
failing health, and it burned down in 1961. The engine was then
moved across the road to sit in front of the family home. In April
of 1992, Albert, Kevin and Keith Burford and a family friend, David
Billingsly, retrieved it from the earth in which it had become
embedded over the years.
The Burford men logged approximately 632 hours on the Victor
over the next two years. With a little help from fellow
flywheelers, they had several parts machined. Parts were then
assembled, the engine mounted on a trailer, and painted to complete
the restoration. The Victor now makes regular stops at mid-south
engine shows. Members of Ms. Essie’s family, including her
mother (Mrs. Ollie Hamner, Seward), saw the restored engine at the
1994 Mid-South Flywheelers Show held at the Agricenter
International in Memphis. It brought back a flood of memories to
the family. They had dreamed for years of seeing the engine run
again, but never thought it would happen. However, thanks to the
Burford men a piece of history has been brought back to life and
the family’s dream has come true.
The Burford family would like to offer a special thanks to A. S.
Pat Hamner and Essie Anthony and their family, and also to fellow
flywheelers David and Allan Billingsly, Mac Payne, and Clinton
Perry, who had a hand in making this restoration possible.