And the winner is ...

For the past two months, a pair of Ideals have vied for your votes in our online poll; now read the story behind it all

| December 2006

We met in August at the 1999 Punxsutawney (Pa.) Area Machine Festival (not to be confused with Groundhog Day). Jeff had set up his display and was proud of his firstengine, a 1919 Fairbanks-Morse, and his 1932 LeRoy. As the day progressed, Terry set up with his Hercules(the best Jeff had ever seen).

Through the course of the day, trophies were awarded to both of us for our displays. From that day on, our friendship grew. (Jeff wanted to learn more from the man he thought was the best). Terry also has other friends (Russ Sheasley and Larry Shearer) whowill help anyone who wants to learn, and also became friends with Jeff. They also have the same thought process of restoration - old iron is a must and we should have fun doing it. Between Terry, Russ and Larry, they probably have 55-plus years accumulated experience. The four of us are in contact every week to figure out where we are going for the weekend. We have a new friend, Mat Luther, and he also has the lust for knowledge from the same mentors that Jeff has and calls every week and asks where we are going. Some are mentors and some students, but we all have the same desire - to restore old iron.

The chase

At an invitational show in New Castle, Pa., we met a man from Warren, Ohio, who had an Ideal not quite completed. He mentioned he had anotherIdealin better shape that still needed work. Phone numbers exchanged. Meanwhile, Jeff had talked to Mr. Hough from Brookville, Pa., who had mentioned that he had an Ideal, which had not run for approximately 15 years. Time passed, snow fell, phone calls were made and away we went. We called Mat to go along, and on the way home from Ohio we just had to stop and mess with Larryand ask where his Ideal was. Now Terry had his Idealand Jeffcalled Mr. Hough and made a connection to pick up his Ideal.

The restoration

We burned a lot of firewood to restore these Ideals and other projects we found to restore. Terry restored a 1925 1-1/2 HP Stover, a 1925 32-volt Westinghouse light plant generator and a Model 92 Maytag. Jeff restored a 1948 Wisconsin AKDN generator (220/110).

The parts missing from Terry's engine were reproduced in-house, and the parts on Jeff's engine, of which werealmost all there, needed a lot of "make it straight and hope it works."

Milling and straightening, paint, woodwork and cart fabrication were all done in-house. We thought a lot about what to do to make them the same, but different and we made it all work. These engines always get a second look. This way, we know that we have done thejob to our satisfaction.