Recycled Sparta Economy Engine

A 4 hp Sparta Economy engine gets saved from the recycler!


| April/May 2017



Greg Dills and Bruce Heppler

Greg Dills (left) found the Sparta, but Bruce Heppler (right) did the restoration to get it running.

Photo by Bruce Heppler

A friend, Greg Dills, was dropping his recycling off at the Lakeport, California, recycling center in July 2014 and happened to glance over at the scrap pile. To his surprise, on the pile was a pair of spoked flywheels. He made a quick U-turn and drove into the scrap yard for a closer inspection.

After determining that there was indeed an engine in pieces scattered through the rest of the pile, he went to the office to strike a deal. The attendant said, “If you want it, it will cost you by the pound and you better hurry up; the truck will be here in five minutes to load the pile.”

Needless to say, the deal was struck – at highway robbery prices. While paying for the engine parts, the grappling crane positioned itself over the pile to begin loading it into the truck that pulled into the yard.

Greg scrambled onto the pile and began pulling off all the pieces he could find. “The grapple was swinging above my head and the operator was giving me dirty looks for holding up his operation,” Greg says. Finally, the scrap yard attendant said, “That’s enough,” and my friend was left to load most of what turned out to be a 4 hp Sparta Economy engine. Showing serial number 12442, it’s a Model C or CA made in 1911 or 1912.

Greg built a cart and assembled the engine as well as could be done with the parts he found. It was taken to the EDGE & TA Branch 13 Woodland Swap Meet, where I first saw it.

A lot of collectors extensively inspected this diamond in the rough, but they all shook their heads and walked off. At the end of the swap meet, Greg said to me, “Bruce, you should buy that engine; you could get it running.” “Not at that price,” I said.