Locked In

Consigned to duty at a remote reservoir nearly 100 years ago, a General Electric engine comes to light.

| July/August 2003

50 HP General Electric

The 1909 50 HP General Electric rescued by members of the Hudson Valley Old Time Power Association. It's now in working condition.

In May 2001, Arthur Beckert, an employee of the city of New York's water supply station at Ashokan, N.Y., told the Hudson Valley Old Time Power Association (HVOTPA) about an engine generator set sitting in a corner of a building at the station. Nobody currently employed at the Ashokan Dam had ever seen it in operation.

We were told to contact Joseph Boek, chief engineer at Ashokan Reservoir. Mr. Boek was aware of the engine and invited us to inspect the unit. The engine turned out to be a four-cylinder, gasoline-burning 1909 50 HP General Electric driving a 25-kilowatt DC generator. I informed Mr. Boek we were very much interested in the unit.

Mr. Boek notified his home office about possibly disposing of the engine, and a short time later he was notified that the city of New York was willing to dispose of the generator. Two days after 9/11 we were notified that the generator was ours.

Our committee of Donald Clarke, Frank Pflegl, Dale Barkman and Clyde Snook wanted to act quickly, so we hired a roll back truck and went and picked up the unit.

After getting the engine home we found that the exhaust valves had rusted in the guides. Unfortunately, when we lifted the engine the flywheel was accidentally turned and the camshaft bent.

We removed the valves and guides and refurbished them, and we took the camshaft to Haberek's Machine Shop in Amsterdam, N.Y. The camshaft was straightened perfectly.