Local Engine Featured at A.C.A.E.C. Show

By Staff
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2121 Gageville Rd., R.D. 2 Ashtabula, OH 44004

The fifth annual show of the Ashtabula County (Ohio) Antique
Engine Club was held July 5th and 6th, 1986 at the farm of Mr. and
Mrs. Don Dillon in Wayne Township. Five years may not seem to be
much as milestones go, but to the members who formed the club and
guided its growth and success over those five years, it was reason
enough to make our 1986 show a special occasion.

Another reason for doing something extra was also at hand. 1986
marked the 175th anniversary of the founding of Ashtabula County,
Ohio. Celebrations and historical displays were being held
throughout the county all summer. During the year Ashtabula County
Genealogical Society compiled and published a 650 page updated
history of the county. Local newspapers were running historical
articles and sketches throughout the year. There was an atmosphere
of history and tradition in our county all year long, and we in the
Antique Engine Club wanted to be a part of it.

In the months preceding our show dates, committees were formed
and members appointed to them. Ideas were presented, discussed and
voted on and plans finally took shape. All of these preparations
are familiar to those of you who have helped put together an engine
show.

The first decision we made was to do something a little
different with our brass exhibitor placques. Our plaques have
always been attractive, but this year we wanted them to be extra
nice. The 1986 plaques were done in a special three-color design
and pictured an Aultman & Taylor water wagon.

Because of the heightened interest in things of an historical
nature, we expected a large turn-out of people at our show. Since
our showgrounds are mostly unshaded, it was further agreed that we
would provide an area where people could get out of the sun for a
while if they wanted to and rest for a spell. This feature took the
form of a large canvas canopy located midway along the display
rows. Chairs and a water cooler were also provided in what came to
be called the hospitality center. Interesting historical
memorabilia were displayed in the hospitality center and space was
made available for the genealogical society to sell their county
history books. Club members were always on hand there to answer
questions or be of other help. This addition to our show was well
received by everyone, owing to temperatures in the low nineties on
both show days. We hope to make it a regular part of our shows in
the future.

Another first time happening at our 1986 show was an antique
tractor pull. Tractor owners and spectators alike agreed it was
great fun. The tractor pull was held on Sunday only, but the
committee in charge would like to make it a two-day event in
1987.

Tying the county anniversary celebrations with antique engines
was no problem for our club. We are fortunate to have had two gas
engine manufacturers here in the past. The first was the Raser Gas
Engine Works around 1905 (see page 406 of American Gas Engines).
Unfortunately, no examples of this engine are known to exist. The
second was the Bieder (pronounced Bee’der) or Home Power engine
from 1908 to 1912 (see pages 58 and 233 of American Gas Engines). A
number of these engines have survived and are owned by club
members. Both of these engines were made in the city of Ashtabula.
The Bieder-Home Power engines are always referred to as
‘Ashtabula Engines’ by our club members. So it was decided
by the club that we would feature the Ashtabula engines at our 1986
show. We were determined to gather as many of them as we could find
in our area for a one time only ‘rally.’

Dimensions for these 1 HP vertical air-cooled gas engines are as
follows: bore and stroke-3?’ x 3?’; height-24′ to top
of cooling fins; flywheels-15?’ diameter with 2′ face;
weight-185 pounds; ignition- spark plug with battery and coil.
Speed control is by hit and miss governing with two governor
weights in the flywheel. No RPM rating is given on the nameplate.
The running speed of these engines is usually a matter of friendly
one-upmanship among our club members to see who can get theirs to
run the slowest. The Ashtabula engines are very quiet and
smooth-running little engines. They would be desirable engines to
have even if they weren’t made in our county. The fact that
they were made here makes them doubly appealing for us.  

Aside from the county anniversary festivities, there was
another, more personal reason to have a display of the Ashtabula
engines and that was to pay tribute to one of our departed members
who had worked diligently to preserve these engines. This member
was Ralph Daniels, who passed away in the fall of 1985. Ralph’s
stable of engines numbered approximately 50, but his three complete
and restored Ashtabula engines were his favorites. Ralph was a
familiar sight at engine shows in our area as he arrived in his
vintage 1949 Ford pickup with a load of engines. No matter which
engines he brought with him to a show, you could bet he had at
least one Ashtabula engine on board. Ralph tirelessly pursued the
smallest clue which might lead to another Ashtbula engine or to
parts needed to complete one he was working on. Ralph’s
enthusiasm for our hobby was contagious. His friendliness and good
humor made him a pleasure to be with. It was with sadness and with
affection that we dedicated this special engine display to the
memory of Ralph Daniels.

The month of June, 1986, was one of the wettest on record in
northern Ohio. Streams and rivers overflowed their banks, basements
filled with water, and more importantly, farmers suffered
substantial crop losses. The rains were so severe that a section
of  I. S. 90 in Ashtabula County washed out and was closed for
two weeks while emergency repairs were made. As our show dates
approached, apprehension rose with the water. After all the
planning and work that goes into hosting an engine show, it’s
disheartening to have it rained out. But, a couple of days before
show time, the skies cleared and wet gave way to hot. No one was
exactly thrilled with the heat wave, but there were few
complaints.

Our engine show came off smoothly and with no complications.
During the two days a total of 125 enthusiasts displayed equipment
that covered almost the whole spectrum of the antique machinery
hobby. There were displays and demonstrations of gas engines, steam
traction engines, portable steam engines, model engines, tractors,
antique cars and trucks, and much old machinery being powered by
the engines to show how they were used in the past. During the two
days, over 3,000 people came through the gates to view the
exhibits. Good food was amply provided by club members and their
spouses, and the warm weather made the cold drink concession a
popular attraction.  

Our display of the Bieder-Home Power engines was one of the
highlights of the show. We managed to collect ten complete examples
of these engines and one that is awaiting some replacement parts.
If that doesn’t seem to be very many, it must be remembered
that they are rather rare engines. The ten complete engines
included the three that were owned by the late Ralph Daniels.
Ralph’s family kindly allowed us to borrow his engines for the
show. All of Ralph’s engines have since been sold at public
auction.

Also included in the Ashtabula engine display was a very early
and rare single flywheel Bieder engine. In place of the other
flywheel is a gear reduction box for turning slow running
machinery. The gear reduction was cast integrally with the engine
frame and was not added later.

This single flyweel engine is equipped with the original Bieder
design carburetor. Later engines used a Lun-kenheimer type
carburetor. Our engine show marked the first time this engine was
seen on display anywhere. In fact, few people knew that this type
of Bieder engine existed. It is interesting to note that Ralph
Daniels had known of this engine’s existence and whereabouts
and had negotiated unsuccessfully to purchase it from its current
owner. The engine is still not for sale, but the owner permitted us
to add it to our display. He also assured us that if he ever did
sell it, it would be to a member of our club.

Once again the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club owes a debt
of gratitude to Don and Edythe Dillon for allowing us to hold our
annual show at their farm. There aren’t many people who would
permit the crowds and the noise and the disruption of an engine
show to take place on their property. The Dillon farm is an ideal
place to have a show from the stand point of easy access as well as
pleasant surroundings. Don is our club president and one of its
founders. His leadership and guidance are two important reasons why
our club has been successful.

In wrapping up this show report, we send out a call to anyone in
the gas engine hobby who has information concerning the Raser gas
engines or the Bieder-Home Power engines made in Ashtabula to share
that information with us. Our club secretary-treasurer, Francis
Day, has done extensive research on the Bieder-Home Power engines
(see accompanying article). His research is on-going and he
welcomes any additional information he can find. We would also like
to determine how many Bieder-Home Power engines still exist. If you
have one of these engines, please contact me or Francis Day. When
we find out how many of the engines have survived, we will make the
information available to anyone expressing an interest.

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