Depot Street Waldoboro, Maine 04572
They say, ‘the best things are close to home.’ After a
ride through the Maine countryside a few weeks ago, I could not
The adventure began when I heard of a small gas engine being
built from scratch by Ernest Hallo-well in Augusta, 25 miles from
my home. Though the ‘engine grapevine’ I had learned that
the small wheeled wonder was a model of an I.H.C. Screened Cooled
Famous engine and was attracting much attention at area engine
shows. I had known Ernest for a number of years and had only to
make a telephone call to confirm the rumors that the illustrious
little engine was complete and running. I never need an excuse to
visit Ernest, so his invitation to view the engine began one of the
nicest day trips I have experienced.
Before leaving for Augusta, I decided this was the time to
immortalize the little engine on film and record Ernest’s
account of its construction, so along came my camera and notebook
and this story was already in the works. On the way to
Ernest’s, I reflected on the great contribution he has made to
the engine-collecting hobby in the state of Maine. Many of the
restored engines in the state at one time have had a part or piece
rebuilt by this infamous ‘engine doctor.’ He also donates
many hours of machine work each year in helping to restore and keep
the fly-wheels turning at the Owls Head Transportation Museum,
located on the coast.
Ernest greeted me warmly at 11 AM at his workshop door. The shop
was wall-to-wall engines and machinery. Engines of every size,
shape and state of repair were lined up, patiently awaiting
Ernest’s delicate attention. It took no time at all for Ernest
to unveil his pride and joy, and he began a wistfil recollection of
the first engine his father owned, some seventy years before.
Ernest still remembers the day his father hauled the engine home
in the back of a wagon pulled by the family mare. ‘The engine
seemed to be ten feet tall,’ recalled Ernest with a gleam in
his eye. The engine was a 6 horsepower I.H.C. Famous Screened
Cooled, ‘the best in the neighborhood and the best running
engine around.’ Young Ernest spent many years with that engine
and fed many cords of hardwood to the saw it powered.
It was the memory of that first engine which sparked
Ernest’s desire to recreate an important childhood influence in
miniature. He had never seen a model of a Famous engine and was
determined to build one. The result graces his workshop like a
polished jewel, mirrored by the tools hanging behind the very bench
on which it was built.
With a flip of the flywheel, the engine came alive, emitting the
distinctive sound much like the gallop of a team of horses made by
the linkage unique to the IHC Famous engine. Every detail was an
engineering wonder, from gas tank to carburetor. Ernest applied the
back of his hand to the rim of the flywheel and the engine began to
bark in miniature the familiar song of a working hit ‘n’
miss governed engine. With a flick of the ignition switch mounted
on the battery box, the engine coasted to a stop after rocking back
and forth against compression.
The engine has a bore of 13/8‘ and a
2′ stroke, and the flywheels have diameters of 10’.
Features include a constant level carburetor, working fuel and
water pump, bronze bearings and all of the character of its larger
A glance at the shop clock prompted my suggestion of a bite to
eat at the local coffee shop. While waiting for bur sandwiches,
Ernest recommended that we complete the afternoon with a trip to
Andy Anderson’s. Andy is an engine enthusiast who lives in the
small town of South China, about 10 miles out of Augusta and but a
few miles from the old homestead where Ernest was born. Andy and
Ernest have worked together on many engine projects over the past
few years. Andy carved the pattern which was used to cast the block
on Ernest’s I.H.C. model.
On the way to Andy’s, Ernest told me I was in for a real
surprise. That turned out to be an understatement. As the tour of
Andy’s ‘engine room’ began, my attention was captured
by three rather large horizontal steam engines, each mounted on a
separate foundation and completely restored in every detail.
Andy proceeded to climb up on a small platform which gave him
access to a number of polished brass valves and pull cords. He put
on an engineer’s cap, lit his pipe and turned the first large
valve, bringing life to a vertical Nagel 8 horsepower bottle
engine. Before I knew it, a large boiler feed pump began to
reciprocate in the corner of the building, followed by the deep
hiss of a 35 horsepower Ball center crank horizontal engine. My
favorite engine, an 1865 Penny side crank with an ornate curved
spoke flywheel, followed suit, stirring with the delicate movement
of its flyball governor. The grand finale was the awakening hiss of
a 50 horsepower Atlas mill engine which Andy restored and was
exhibiting for the Maine Antique Power Association. The engine room
also houses over a dozen gasoline engines of various shapes and
sizes in all their restored splendor.
The sound of a 6-inch chime whistle echoed through the hills of
South China, signaling the end of a most special afternoon spent in
the Maine countryside. It was these same hills which once echoed
the Sound of the Exhaust of the I.H.C. Famous engine that inspired
Ernest’s proud accomplishment. The clockwork mechanism of
Ernest’s I.H.C. model and the massive moving parts of
Andy’s steam engines share a common blessing-the hearts and
hands of the individuals who have dedicated much of their time to
the preservation and appreciation of our mechanical heritage.
After returning Ernest to his home in Augusta, I spent 25 miles
thinking about the wealth of the Maine countryside and people like
Ernest and Andy and their engines close to home and heart.