In the August issue of GEM, we featured some post card engines sent to us by regular contributor John Davidson, Bristol, Wis. John actively collects engines and related literature, and among the turn of the century post cards he sent was one showing an engine we'd never seen. The post card gave no information on the engine; no name, no date and no location. In some measure the engine had the appearance of a crude, home-built special, possibly even a kit, a few of which were available in the early part of the 20th century. By sheer chance, the identity of the engine's builder has been discovered.
At the Coolspring Power Museum's Summer Expo and Flea Market in Coolspring, Pa., this past June, I was looking at Jim Zook's 2 HP Shugers engine when John rushed up almost breathless, asking if I'd seen the copy of the post card photo Jim had acquired from Ben Ridings. I hadn't, and when Jim showed me the photo, what I saw seemed almost too remarkable to be true.
This second post card (shown above, with John's post card photo inset for comparison) clearly shows the other side of the same model of engine we featured last issue. Ben Ridings has the original, and as with John's, no dates appear on the card. But, as the picture above clearly shows, the post card has notations as written on the original photograph, and careful examination shows a nameplate on the side of engine.
The engine's manufacturer was evidently one Joseph Hovey of Florida, Ohio, and if the serial number plate on the cylinder is to be believed, this engine was no. 89 of an unknown total. Close inspection shows the photograph was taken 'By Turner' of Napoleon, Ohio. Napoleon is approximately 25 miles southwest of Toledo, Ohio, and Florida is about 10 miles southeast of Napolean.
While clearly showing the same engine model, this photo appears to show a different example. Note, for instance the fuel and cooling tanks. The fuel tanks in both photos appear identical, but the cooling tank on the engine in John's photo is square, while the one in Ben's photo appears to be nothing more than a milk bucket adapted to engine duty. Further, Ben's photo shows what looks to be a cartridge-shaped muffler exiting to the right, while John's photo shows no muffler at all, only a pipe, and exiting to the left instead of to the right.
Attempts to find further information on the company and its products have met a dead end, but with any luck someone out there knows more about this interesting engine.
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