Courtesy of Ray Christenson, Route 2, Ellendale, Minnesota 56026
215 Cleveland, Bad Axe, Michigan 48413
Over the last ten years I have turned leads on engine and tractors I have seen, over to other collectors, being primarily interested in Model T Fords. However, in the back of my mind I still knew of several engines and only an impulse of a moment was needed to set me off.
One evening last August while Mike Sorenson and I were buzzing along south of Bad Axe in his blue Dodge pickup, I began to tell about the big 7 Hp. Hercules we used on an irrigation pump.
Before we go on, let me introduce you to Mike. He is a happy go lucky young fellow who is my right arm and dependable helper in the hardware store my Dad and I own. At 16, Mike loves engines more than girls, although he has several ardent admirers.
As we hummed on, going out to repair a sick garden tractor, I expanded on the trials and tribulations we had with the worn out Hercules. I went on until he said he had never seen an engine like that with big flywheels and an open crank. I said, 'Do you want one?' He sure did. So, at the next corner we turned right and went two miles into the South Swamp where I had seen one while on a Ford parts hunt.
It was half buried in manure in an unused pen barn. I was sure $2.00 would buy it. When we saw the owner, he said he paid $7.00 for it 30 years ago and had $5.00 worth of work out of it. $2.00 bought it without asking or bargaining.
It had needed rings so he had pulled the piston and rod and stuck it into the water hopper. At least, it wasn't set up. After dragging it into the light and loading it we found we had a Fairbanks Model Z 2 Hp. complete with skids and a lot of dirt.
All the rest of the way Mike excitedly told how he was going to restore it 'like new'. He wished I had one too. With three Model T's to work on, I thought otherwise.
Pictured is a 3 Hp. International engine that I have restored.
This is a Davenport Oil Engine 3 Hp. It fires under compression. I would like to hear from somebody that has seen or heard of it There doesn't seem to be anyone around here that has ever seen one of them. It was built in Davenport, Iowa. It is similar to a Sears Thermoil Oil Engine.
As we worked on the sick Bolens I thought a little more and remembered a little engine two miles away in Winter's junk yard. Upon our arrival, Mr. Winters was sure that there were no engines left in his yard. 'Why, people have been all through there and I piled all that iron there myself,' he said.
Some ten years before while digging through the oldest part of the yard, I had found a cute little engine completely surrounded by grain binders which were stood on end like books on a shelf. Since there was no way to get it out short of straight up, I covered it up with a washtub and bought its oiler for a souvenir.
When we got into the yard to 'waste our time' we found most of the binders gone. After ten minutes hunting we started kicking into a huge clump of wild raspberries. There, among the berries, it was still covered with the old tub. Mike was so happy he would have carried it to the truck alone, had I let him.
However, it wasn't quite that easy. We had to rig a lift to get it over a corn binder. Then we dragged it over several used up truck chassies and slid it over a John Deere G.P without wheels, all the time being careful not to fall into or get pushed against the dangerous pieces of mowing machines and other sharp rusty objects thrown along the way.
This is a 3 mule team Associated engine that I have restored.
As soon as we got home, we applied penetrating oil and opened what turned out to be a United 2 Hp. I had covered it up too late. Water had gone into the exhaust pipe and cracked the cylinder as well as pushing the piston out and taking teeth off the solidly rusted cam gear.
Next Saturday found us in my old Ford truck to hunt down more engines. When delivering a lawn mower in early spring, I saw a pair of flywheels at the bottom of a customers stone pile. After a polite talk, the owner gave us the engine for hauling it away. It was a 1? I Hercules complete to the Webster magneto and completely rusted up.
The next place, a couple of miles on had a 1? Hp. of anonymous make as rusty as the Hercules but it was lied up in an estate.
From there, we went on to Ubly where I knew of an engine on a pump jack. When we got there, it was gone, apparently just recently.
Taking back roads home as usual, I remembered hearing the hit and miss pop of an engine while I was installing a pump. When I saw Johnny, the new pump owner, he pointed to an old orchard where surrounded by a strong fence were a couple of barns and an old pump house. We could make out the flywheels of two engines from where we stood. Johnny said to stay away from the orchard but to go to the owners house on the hill behind his place.
He said, 'Leave the truck at the road and walk through the barn yard gate and back to the house. Stop at the kitchen door yard gate and wait for the dog to bark and somebody will appear.' Sure enough, it happened as he said. After the dog barked, a square jawed old fellow appeared in overalls and said in Polish English, 'Wat you want?' After explaining myself, he said, 'You no get dat mote we pomp watter wit'.
'Well, there's two engines there'.
'Don't know, you see my brodders, Stanley and Clarence'.
'Stanley and Clarence who?'
'You see my brodders Stanley and Clarence, day combinin'.
'One nort-half west, half nort-half west'.
With that he abruptly turned for the house and I started for the road, bravely looking into several open sheds along the way, out of the corner of my eye. In one, under a pile of grain bags, I spied a little flywheel. I was too chicken to look further and ran for the truck.
This is a 2? Hp. Waterloo engine that I have restored. I bought it from the original owner, who had bought it in 1908. It is 60 years old.
After following the directions, I found Stanley and Clarence combining. They shut every thing down for a good talk. They were good fellows and interested in helping. 'We found that Jon Dare angines damn good - got 4 of em on pomps. Always start. No sell. Need parts dough, parts angine in shed near used up. Angine you want no good, after rain no good, after rain no start. Got it on a sale. Jon Dare Angines best'.
A price of $2.73 (all we had) was agreed upon and we became the owners of Economy 2 Hp. No. 2378. They had used most of the bolts out of it but otherwise, it was all there. The cows had kept the rust off with their tongues, so it is pretty smooth.
Later in the fall, John Wilcox traded us a Witte 6 Hp., and Ottawa 5 Hp. and a little Stover, all in running shape for a 5 Hp. 1897 Fairbanks and Generator we had, so we finally had a couple of running engines.
Our instant collection is sitting in oil awaiting the time when we will push the pistons out. Mike has the Fairbanks looking good now and soon it will feel fire for the first time in twenty years. We have a lot of fun ahead and who knows, we might find a real jewel somewhere yet.
(Following is the letter that came with this article and I feel it should be printed - Anna Mae) - Dear Editor: May I begin by saying I have enjoyed GEM from the first issue and now want to contribute.
I started collecting engines at age 11, when my uncle gave me a fairly good Novo. Later I got a Gilson, air-cooled. These engines were given away to a friend in 1956 when I went to college. When I came home, I became interested in Model T Fords. It has been recently because of my ownership of a small engine agency that I have gotten the bug again.
Rumely and 30-60 A & T taken at Bridgeport, Nebraska Show, 1966.
These engines were discovered over a period of ten years in old car parts hunts and upon deliveries of new water pumps, lawn mowers and etc. I turned the leads over to other collectors but these no one ever picked up.
At one place where I bought a model T, I saw a Temple Master Workman and that a collector did pick up. It is much better than the equipment I discovered has been picked up and saved from the torch, however, I would like to get another chance at the 1917 Avery and some engines I've seen.
Enclosed is my yarn about going after the engines that were left.
Since I wrote this, Mike Sorenson, my junk hunting partner and close friend has drowned. I am also writing 'in Memory of Mike' which I will also send in. This boy doesn't deserve to go to the grave to be forgotten for the life he led should be an example to all teenagers.
We both enjoyed a farm junk yard, like a museum. Sometimes we made a find, others we just had a good time looking around. We started collecting engines to satisfy Mike's curosity about something he had never seen.
A 1? Hp. Cushman engine that I have restored.
30-60 Aultman & Taylor belongs to Fred Brubaker of Bird City, Kansas. It was shown at Bird City Show for several years.
This 25-50 Avery Tractor bought by Carl Priesner of Ogallala, Nebraska in 1966 and completely dismantled and rebuilt and painted by Carl and I. We had to make drawbar, crank, fuel tank and complete radiator in my shop, but it is still minus the governor. Have Pickering on it. It was used to thresh with this fall.
18-36 3 speed Hart-Parr that I have rebuilt and painted for myself in 1967.