Rare Engines: Otto and Westman Busy Bee

The Schneider brothers, along with their father, developed a knack for finding rare engines like their 1906 Otto.

| April/May 2018

As brothers, Joe and Andy Schneider have family connections for their gas engine hobby. They both fell in love with gasoline engines at the same time after their father, John, took them to a show near Bradford, Minnesota, about 1990.

“The next year my dad and Andy and I bought a couple of John Deere Model E 1-1/2 hp engines from a guy we knew,” Joe says. “It was neat seeing the engines, and when we got them running, I got bit by the bug.”

Their friends in the suburbs didn’t get the engine idea, “My grandmother had an old farmstead where we did lots of different things we were interested in. I’m not sure our friends from those days still get why we collect gas engines,” Joe says.

The Schneiders collected different brands of engines. Many of the engines they found were common, but along with their father they developed a knack for finding rare ones, like a 1906 2 hp Otto, a 1-1/2 hp Brillion, and a very rare circa-1913 Westman gas engine.

“We’ve been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for some of these engines,” Joe says. “That doesn’t happen very often. A lot of times at a show people pass around pictures of common engines they want to sell. But every once in a while you get a rare one.”

2 hp Otto

The Schneiders’ 1906 2 hp Otto engine is certainly a rare one. Interestingly, it was apparently bought to be displayed, then put in a shed and never run again. When Andy found out about the engine, he asked the owner, who had been selling some of his other engines, if he wanted to sell the Otto. “He named a price, we thought about it for a couple of days and Dad bought it.”