Gas Engines and Motorcycles Mix it Up at California Show

Pairing Classic Engines and Bikes a Natural

| August 2005

Several years ago, one of the oldest motorcycle engines in existence was found in England - being used to power farm equipment! An Ariel engine, it was built in about 1898 and fed with a surface carburetor. It originally powered a three-wheeler, but had been used by the farmer as a stationary power device for many years.

Many improvements to the internal combustion engine were equally applicable to stationary gas engines and motorcycles, and many companies produced both. In the U.S., the Shaw company made engines for both motorcycle and farm applications from 1903 to the early 1920s. Cushman, of Lincoln, Neb., started making engines in 1901 and only went into scooter production in 1936.

Given this affinity between early motorcycles and gas engines, it seemed only natural for a vintage motorcycle show interested in widening its appeal to add gas engines to the mix. Bator International, the organizer of the May 21, 2005, Hanford, Calif., Antique & Classic Motorcycle Show &Swap Meet, put out the call for gas engines in the May 2005 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, and turnout was reasonable for a first effort.

Hanford, located in California's Central Valley 40 miles southeast of Fresno, looks like a transplanted Midwestern town, complete with cannons on the courthouse lawn, a real downtown to walk around and the Superior Ice Cream Dairy, where white-haired waitresses serve sundaes too large to be finished by anyone not a 14-year-old athlete. The 37th annual show and swap took place at the Kings County Fairgrounds, a large facility with a lawn for show displays.

Jeff Slobodian, a well known California collector, presented an attractive display that included grandfather clocks and antique bicycles, many with motor attachments. "I love engines, all sorts of engines," explains Jeff. "I have a good time with all of these things." Jeff builds his own varnished wooden stands for antique engines in need of some kind of support. These stands, along with some duplicates from his extensive collection, were for sale.

A Standard Cream Separator in Jeff's collection was supported by its own stand, a rare item. It is a 1915 overhead valve model neatly enameled in red, with an outside flywheel cast with fins that direct a cooling breeze to the cylinder. "They were always sold with stands," explains Jeff, "but the stands got knocked around, and many were detached. This one also came with all the cream separator stuff."


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