California Gold Antique Engines Show

By Staff
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8 HP Union with generator. The Union is an open-crank, sideshaft vertical engine, as were many of the engines featured at the 2010 California Gold show.
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An unusual Samson vertical, with belt-driven steam engine style governor. Most California engines seem to be throttle governed. 
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Best engine owned by Greg Johnson.
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A very unusual Sterns engine, made in Los Angeles and owned by Bob Critz, of Vista, CA. This is one of only two known Sterns engines.
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Pacific marine engine with a gearless design.
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The gears seen in the pictures are for reversing the engine. This Hadwen Swain Engine is governed by increasing tension on the intake valve spring as the engine speeds. up.
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Standard engine made in San Francisco, also controlled by limited the intake valve.
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A pair of Western engines.

The California Gold antique engine show has become almost legendary in antique engine circles.

This show, which celebrated its seventh year on May 15, 2010, is an invitation-only show, consisting solely of California-made engines, such as Samson Engines, Best Engines, Union Engines, Regan Engines and Hicks Engines. The 2010 engine show was nestled among the redwood grove of this year’s host, Ken McCrary, near Davenport, CA.

Golden opportunity

California engines are not common back East. An occasional Samson engine or engines on loan to the Coolspring Power Museum are about all of the exposure Eastern collectors get. Names like Best, Union, Regan and Hicks are almost unheard of.

Union engines were featured this year, including a fine 8 HP Union generator set owned by Greg Wakeman. Greg Johnson brought his Best engine and Dick Hamp’s fine 1892 2 HP Regan Vapor marine engine, which was featured in the April/May 2010 Gas Engine Magazine. The only two Hadwen Swain engines were exhibited, as well as a few Hicks vertical marine engines with full running gear. A pair of gearless Pacific engines were exhibited; one with an interesting reverse gear personally caught my eye.

Part of the experience of the show was a visit to the Swanton Pacific Railroad. This is a wonderful steam powered scale railroad just down the road from the show. It was in operation especially for the California Gold event.

Although neither one of us owns a California engine, Wayne Grenning and I were invited to attend by fellow collector Greg Johnson, a frequent visitor to the Coolspring Power Museum. We scheduled a whirlwind tour of central California, which included the Nike Missile Site in the Golden Gate Recreation Area, the San Francisco Cable Car Barn & Powerhouse, and Yosemite. The highlight of the trip was, of course, the Cal Gold show.

The show is held in a different place every year. It was certainly one of the most picturesque show venues I’ve ever seen. Mark Panzone, promoter of the event, puts the show together each year. Without his work it would not happen.

The pictures here are only a sample of the many unusual engines at the California Gold show. I look forward to going back someday.

Contact Woody Sins at 3 Edna Terrace, New Hartford, NY 13413 •

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