Gas Engines in New Zealand

| September/October 1984

A Sampson Sieve Grip at Spark's rally site

A Sampson Sieve Grip at Spark's rally site.

Gerry Lestz

(In the spring of 1984, Gerald and Margaret Lestz flew to Australia and New Zealand and sought out collectors and restorers of gas and steam engines. Gerry interviewed and took pictures; Margaret, familiar with farm machinery from her childhood on the family Montana ranch, took an active role in interviewing. We found all the collectors easy to talk with, and ever more than willing to make arrangements so that we could obtain information. This article tells in part of the New Zealand portion of our trip. GL)

I was lucky enough to arrange to meet Michael J. Hanrahan, editor of Vintage Farming Magazine for engine collectors, at Christchurch. We arranged to be carrying copies of our magazines so we'd recognize each other at the airport, but made instant identification nevertheless. Michael served as host and tour director for Margaret and me, and gave us the deluxe treatment.

Michael, who has a 700-acre sheep ranch and is a gas engine collector, estimated that the number of people involved in the engine hobby is 'well up in the thousands' in New Zealand. While there are many brands of U.S. gas engines and tractors in New Zealand, none of the American steam traction engines arrived there. Their heyday had passed before New Zealand farming got underway on the scale of today.

There are numerous clubs and organizations on both islands which compose New Zealand, and many rallies are held. While some of these draw large crowds, others are attended primarily by those who are showing engines. And as is the case worldwide, they enjoy talking engines and inspecting each other's machines tremendously.

'We have the best mixture of gas engines around,' Michael commented. 'You can find English engines, U.S., German, French and Australian.'

One tractor he cited with the Lanz Bulldog, made in Mannheim, Germany. There are Lanz clubs in New Zealand. The magazine received 400 photos from the factory's public information office. How many Lanz tractors there might be in the U.S., we don't know. They seldom figure in our show reports.