| December 2007

Talk about unique gas engines, Bob Riebel of Le Sueur, Minn., has several. Among them, a 2-cylinder Edwards that could run on one or both cylinders depending on the operator, a one-of-a-kind Minneapolis-Moline U and a rarely seen Maytag lawn mower.

Bob lives the engine-lover's life. The week of the annual Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show in August 2007, it took Bob, two sons and two grandsons four days to get everything ready and transported. "We only live 4-1/2 miles from the grounds," the 79-year-old says. "This year I had 10 trucks, 14 tractors and more than 80 gas engines at the show," including those rare ones.

He says they have to be cleaned and checked every year anyway to make sure they are in running order, and this way they are ready to display for people to see. "You've got to make sure the gas engines are all lined up and the belts put on the ones that are going to be running a corn chopper or whatever. The trucks and tractors need gas added then they are driven over. A carburetor might get crudded over by sitting, but mostly, it's amazing how that stuff will sit for a whole year, and start up right away when you crank it, and away it goes."

The old days revisited

Bob grew up on the home place, a mile from where he lives now near Le Sueur. One of his childhood jobs was to start the 1-1/2 HP McCormick-Deering gas engine used on the farm to pump water and separate milk. "I was probably 10 years old when I had to crank it. It wasn't too bad. A lot of time you had to push the intake valve in, get the thing turned over, and then take your hand off the valve spring, and generally it would go," Bob says. A belt from the engine to a gear on the cream separator operated that machine.


Horsepower: 5
Year: 1925
Serial number: 47197
Normal RPM: 2,000
Bore: 2-1/2- or 3-inch
Stroke: 5- or 6-inch
Flywheel diameter: 30 inches
Usage: Aerated water through ice on lake to provide oxygen for fish
Unique feature: Lever could switch the running from forward to backward

The collection begins

Bob's collecting days started when his uncle gave him a 1-1/2 HP International LA engine. "Another neighbor had a 1-1/2 HP John Deere that I bought for five bucks, and one thing led to another," he laughs.