Out of the Ordinary: 8 HP Olds Engine

One lucky collector acquires a complete 8 HP Olds engine from a Missouri museum

| August/September 2012

Olds No. 5 Type A
Seager Engine Works, Lansing, Mich.
Year: Circa 1910
Shop number: 50158
HP: 8
Bore: 6-inch
Stroke: 8-inch
Weight: 1,700 pounds
Ignition: High-tension magneto
Governing: Hit-and-miss
Patent dates: Sept. 25, 1906; April 6, 1909

After several years of collecting the more common engines — Fairbanks-Morse, Witte, John Deere, McCormick-Deering, Economy, etc. — I thought it would be fun to find something uncommon for a change. In 2004, while touring a mid-Missouri museum, I saw an 8 HP Olds engine in a small blacksmith display. You actually had to look through a little window to see it. Even though it was fairly dark inside, I could see it was a very complete engine.

I happened to be acquainted with someone who worked at the museum so I asked him what he knew about the engine. He said it had been there for years and he didn’t know much, but offered to make some inquiries. When I contacted him a few weeks later he couldn’t tell me if the engine belonged to the museum or was on loan.

Later I heard the museum had been sold so I contacted the new owner and he indicated that he was taking the museum in a different direction and would be willing to sell the Olds. Now I started getting nervous — thinking I was at the end of a long line of interested buyers. When I next spoke to him he said the engine had not been part of the sale, but was privately owned and had been removed from the museum.

After a bit of detective work I found the owner. When I called to see if he would sell the engine I was surprised to find I was the only person who had expressed any interest in it. We agreed to meet and discuss price. It wasn’t cheap, but I did say I wanted something uncommon.

The engine had all-original gray paint and decals, and the Webster high-tension magneto was still mounted and had good spark. Having been in the museum for about 25 years, it had not been run, but was remarkably intact. The engine was not stuck, but was very dry and hard to turn. We agreed on a price and loaded the 1,700-pound engine on my trailer. I was about to leave when he mentioned a toolbox that went with it. I glanced inside and saw some valves and gaskets, but didn’t pay much attention to it.

2/24/2015 2:20:12 PM

A great article on a very nice engine. I also have an engine made by one of the Lansing engine builders and have discovered some info that may help if you are researching engines made by one of the companies that R E Olds was involved with. odiedody@ctc.net


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