Since the inception of the Reflections column in the
January/February 1985 issue of GEM, author C. H. Wendel
has traditionally started with ‘A Brief Word,’ his
signature way of getting in a word or two before launching into
issues of engine identification and related subjects. In the same
manner, he traditionally ended his column with ‘A Closing
Word.’ This issue we feel compelled to turn the recipe around,
as this marks the end of Wendel’s Reflections column
as we have all known it.
For the past 18 years, Reflections has been a mainstay
of GEM, a place for readers to ask questions about unidentified or
‘mystery’ engines and to share information gleaned from
other sources. Wendel, drawing from years of research into old
engines and tractors, and working from a vast personal library of
old manuals, production records and patents, has faithfully
provided engine owners with information previously deemed lost or
unavailable. His contributions to the old iron community are
unquestionably huge, and not just through his work at
The author of dozens of books on engines, tractors, implements,
saws and tools – in fact just about everything related to early
agricultural mechanization – Wendel has been something of a
one-man-resource for the old iron community. How many of us turn
daily to Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872
or the Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors? Quite a
few, I can assure you.
In May 2002 Wendel suffered a stroke, and since that I time
we’ve kept his column going, waiting for the day he would
recover enough to return to his duties here at GEM. That,
unfortunately, is not to be. Wendel, as you’ll read in this
issue’s final installment of Reflections, has decided
the time has come to bid this chapter in his life farewell.
Beginning with the November issue, Wendel’s
Reflections becomes Flywheel Forum. Individually,
few – if any – of us have the resources to answer every engine
query that comes along. But collectively we constitute an enormous
resource of information. So keep those questions – and photos –
coming and we’ll all do our best to answer them.
This issue also sees the launch of a new department, Patent
Design. Early engine and tractor engineers crafted ingenious
and fascinating mechanisms in their drive to improve engine
technology, and every month we’ll take a look at a patent of
note. The department launches with a look at Abenaque Machine Works
(which just happens to be the first entry in Wendel’s
American Gas Engines Since 1872) and the patent for their
signature cooling scheme.
Our thanks to everyone who submits pictures and stories to
GEM– your submissions make GEM what it is. From
your photos and words, readers discover what other hobbyists have
done or are doing, and your stories encourage and inspire the rest
of us in our engine restorations and pursuits. And don’t think
you can’t write a story, because we all have hundreds of them
waiting to be told. So keep those stories and pictures coming.
Finally, I’ve just learned the Tulare Swap Meet will be held
Nov. 2, not Nov. 1 as advertised in the last issue.