Engines in Kosovo

| August/September 2001

4000 Marietta Avenue, Columbia, Pennsylvania 17512

In January 2001, I had the opportunity to take a voluntary two-week assignment in Kosovo, which was formally part of Yugoslavia. One of the interesting things I had the opportunity to observe was the use of old gas engines. These photos were taken in the city of Prizren, in the southern part of the country.

Unfortunately, I only had time to snap a few photographs and did not have time to really study the engines in any detail. I did learn from one operator that they were made around 1922 and were originally used on small boats. They were made in Yugoslavia and have the ARAN name cast into the water hopper.

They are using these old engines to cut firewood into shorter lengths. The engines are mounted on an old car chassis, thus making them self-propelled. By changing the v-belt from one pulley to another, they can either run the saw in a stationary condition, or 'drive' the unit as a self-propelled vehicle. It is not fancy, but it works. They were quite a sight and sound running around this city of 60,000 people.

Most homes are heated with electric heat, but electricity is not fully dependable, so many people also have wood-burning stoves. Firewood is sold in about four-foot lengths, so the wood needs to be re-sawn after purchase. These portable saws go around the city re-sawing the firewood.

As you can see from the photographs, ingenuity and functional mechanics work around the world to keep these engines working. No, I did not try to purchase any of these engines. These engines are needed in this war-torn country, and my friends threatened to not meet me at the airport if I got any old iron fever!