Family Ties Built on Old Engines

Family ties lead Missouri man to old engines, but his impressive collection is all his own.

| August/September 2014

IH Engine

Craig Babington’s 1911 12 HP International Harvester Famous engine at the 2013 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion.

Photo by Bill Vossler

Family is what got Craig Babington into engines, and the hobby’s way of enhancing family ties has kept him collecting. It all started when as a kid Craig spent a lot of time with his grandfather: Craig attended shows with him, saw old engines, and the die was cast.

But it wasn’t until his grandpa passed away in 2007 that Craig, 37, of Revere, Missouri, thought seriously about collecting antique gasoline engines. “My mom got one of his engines, and her brother and sisters each got one, but there were three leftover ones that I got at auction,” Craig says. “I remembered going to shows with Grandpa and those engines, so I wanted them. They all ran.”

Those first engines were a 1923 6 HP Fairbanks-Morse, a 1917 1-1/2 HP Sattley, and a 1932 1-1/2 HP Limited. Because winter was coming when Craig acquired the engines, they all ended up in a shed until spring. Then Craig and his brother Mike fired the engines up, and Craig began searching the Internet for engine shows. He found some, and that’s where other family ties came in. “My uncle had some engines, so all that summer he and I went to quite a few shows,” Craig says.

By that time Craig had heard that once you buy an engine you have to buy more, so it didn’t take him long to get into the swing of it.

Engine collection

Craig bought his first big engine soon after those original three. It’s a circa 1917 7 HP Sattley, wearing serial no. 17896. There’s no real way to determine the manufacture date of early Sattleys, Craig says, “so I’m just going off the tag on it to get an idea of the year.”

The Sattley was manufactured by Racine-Sattley Co., Springfield, Illinois, and was probably sold by Montgomery, Ward & Co., which added the Sattley line to its extensive farm equipment offerings in 1916. The flywheels on the Sattley are 37-by-3 inches, and the hit-and-miss engine has a bore and stroke of 6-by-8-1/2 inches. Craig says the hopper-cooled engine was in good condition so he didn’t have to do any work on it. The Sattley has an igniter with a Webster magneto.