By Patrick Hinrichsen Free Press Staff Writer
The following article was taken from a 1974 Mankate Hall Press, with their permission, and sent to us by J. Hickok & Son, Amboy, Minnesota 56010. (Back during the gas shortage, wasn't it--and who knows but how soon we'll be going through it again??)
GARDEN CITY-Been reading about saving gasoline? Concerned about efficient motors? Then a new contest at the Blue Earth County Fair should be a snap - if you're a small engine expert, that is.
Up the road from the midway, just across from the pronto pup stand and behind the ring of curious kids and adults is the antique gas engine show, a first for the oldest fair in the state.
Part of the show is a contest. People may guess on a secret ballot how long two engines will each run on one pint of gas in an economy run Wednesday afternoon. Those guessing closest will win a ham, a case of pop or other prizes.
The two engines in the contest are among the show's 34 Worthingtons, Cushmans, Choreboys, Maytags and others.
They are small or large, two or four cylinder, continuous fire or 'hit or miss.' Red or black.
They were made obsolete by rural electrification in the late 1930s, ending an era when the snapping, whistling, growling machines powered feed mills, seed fans, milk separators, clothes washers and band saws.
Guessing in the contest won't be easy because the machines are so old and rare, says Nate Hickok of Amboy, owner of the machines in the contest.
Hickok and his son Tom, who works in Mankato, have been collecting engines for several years and now have about 80.
Keeping the 21 engines they brought to the fair running, oiled, fueled and answering visitors' questions has turned into a fulltime job for them and their helper, Larry Winterfeldt.
They have a six-horsepower Monitor which used to run a blacksmith shop in High Point, Mo. in about 1808, and their $350.00, four horsepower red Galloway runs a woodchopper at the fair display.
Alongside the Hickok machines are six belonging to the Baumgard brothers of Garden City; Otto, Henry, Ray and Fred.
Otto, the steam man in the family, says the collection is a hobby and the men have 15 engines plus a steam tractor.
Henry paid $860.00 for the Stickney model at the show and he says it may be worth $2,500.00 now. The brothers also have Le-Roys, John Deeres, McCormicks and Independents. no longer made. That means they must be handmolded or lathed.
Nate Hickok, of Amboy, left, and his son Tom of Mankato, try to start their five-horsepower Galloway. The engine is one of two machines in a contest in which people may guess how long an engine will run on one pint of gasoline.
Klaseus points to lathe-turned valves, chokes, fuel lines, magnitoes and cranks on his models, and even to a muffler fashioned out of a cylinder sleeve packed with steel wool.
Henry Baumgard says his Independent engine at the fair is one of only 400 made. 'And I ain't ever seen another one.' Letters across the nation to find parts were all returned unanswered, he said.
The repairing often is not easy, such as for Hickok who bought an engine three years ago. 'And I'm still soaking it, trying to loosen the piston.'
Klaseus had to remove a piston by beating it with a mall, but he says that's part of what makes the hobby so interesting.
The enclosed pictures show how we built a buzz saw, using our 8 HP Witte engine number 91420. The complete unit is mounted on a 1949 G.M.C. pickup and can be unbolted and slid off.
My friend, K. Morgan and I, designed this set up. When folded down for use the saw unit is clamped to the bumper with a chain binder and when folded up for moving is clamped to a bracket with the same binder. The belt is automatically tightened when the saw is lowered, and can be adjusted more if necessary by a slide bolt system on the saw frame.
Gasoline is supplied from a model T Ford gas tank mounted on the side of the box.
This is a fine running engine and a pleasure to listen to. I use it in our wood business and can also do custom sawing when not busy for our wood lot.
This engine was complete when I bought it, but I had a new rod bearing poured and the crank turned. Also put in new rings and muffler. I painted it dark green with yellow pin striping. It draws a lot of attention wherever we go with it. It has also helped us to find more engines when someone sees it and remembers that he has one like it out in an old shed. Put your engines to use, boys. It will give you more pleasure and help expand your hobby, and besides these old engines were built to work and when restored can still do a good days work. If they are doing something worthwhile maybe the little woman won't say so much when you drag in another one to be given a new lease on life.
'Most were just junk when I bought them. They didn't look nothing like they do now. Most hadn't been run for 30 or 40 years. To put life back into them, that's really something. 'Hickok now is trying to keep his Galloway engine alive by repairing a flooding problem to be ready for Wednesday's run.
Hickok can tell visitors where most of his engines came from, what they were used for and how they run. But he won't say how long they will run on one pint of gas.
'I really don't know,' he says 'I haven't tried it before. The thing right now is to get this one running by then.'
A contest tip: Klaseus says his five horsepower Economy model will idle 'all day, maybe 24 hours' on one gallon of gas.
Wisconsin engine, 2 cylinder. Fred made the cut off saw outfit