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

  • Joe and Andy Schneider’s rare 1906 2 hp Otto vertical. Manufactured in 1906, it’s one of only a few still in existence.
    Bill Vossler
  • Equipped with a large belt pulley but no clutch, the Otto likely spent its early life in a small factory running a line shaft.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A look at the Otto’s substantial base. These were stout engines.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The “Otto” name is cast into the rear of the base.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A close-up view of the Otto’s igniter and pendulum governing system.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Andy Schneider showing the Westman’s forward-reverse shift lever.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Left view of the Westman’s forward-reverse transmission, with PTO of sorts on the output shaft.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Right views of the Westman’s forward-reverse transmission, with PTO of sorts on the output shaft.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Westman uses a flywheel weight throttle governor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Brothers Joe (left) and Andy Schneider with the Westman.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Once owned by collector Tom Winland, this Westman lacks the forward-reverse transmission of the Schneiders’ engine.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

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.”


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