By Staff
1 / 5
Magel with 2 HP Stover.
2 / 5
Magel with 2 HP Stover.
3 / 5
Working the Forge.
4 / 5
Line shafts
5 / 5
'The Field' engine

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641.

Early this summer, I had occasion to visit the machine shop of
Roland Magel in New London, Iowa. I was there to observe the ways
in which he set up the line shafts in his shop. Expecting to see
the usual collection of machinery powered by a large electric
motor, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was mistaken.

Sitting proudly near the wall sat a 5 HP ‘The Field’ gas
engine. Manufactured by the Field-Brundage Company located in
Jackson, Michigan, the engine supplied the power for Roland’s
line shafts. The old flywheeler was well cared for, ran
exceptionally well with its 5′ bore and 7′ stroke, and was
obviously Magel’s prize possession.

‘The Field’ was originally purchased in 1912 by his
father, Charles Magel. It supplied the power source for a feed
grinder, emery wheel, wood lathe, and washing machine used on their
farm near Augusta, Iowa.

In 1941, Roland moved to New London. Because his building space
did not permit its set-up and operation, the engine was placed in
storage. 1960 found Magel constructing a new and larger machine
shop. The power source was obvious. ‘The Field’ gas engine
was taken out of retirement, thoroughly worked over, and placed
into service.

I asked Magel if I could see the engine in operation. With the
flair of a parent about to have his child perform, he fired the
engine. It was a flawless performance.

The exhaust is sent outside via a pipe and the drive pulley is
activated with a hand clutch. The leather drive belt is 5? wide and
came from the line shafts in an old button factory which once
flourished in Burlington, Iowa. The 5 HP engine easily supplies an
abundant amount of power for his machinery. Even with the gas
shortage and gas prices soaring, it is still an economical running

Magel is no new arrival in the world of mechanics. He has been
in the repair business for 57 years. He is equally adept at a hand
fired forge as he is operating a metal lathe, drill press, or
welder. As a young man, Roland operated an 18 HP Altman-Taylor
steam engine. This was an occupation inherited from his father who
owned and operated a Leader steam engine with the early threshing

As ‘The Field’ popped along in the background, I
realized how fitting it was in Magel’s shop. Both represent a
part of our heritage, that unfortunately, is fast disappearing.
Even so, they made a great team.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines