RIEBEL’S RARITIES


| December 2007

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    Bob Riebel and his very rare 1913 3 HP Lauson-Lawton Wisconsin engine.
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    Bob Riebel learned about engines with the help of this one-of-a-kind 1947 Minneapolis-Moline U tractor engine many years ago at the University of Minnesota Farm School in St. Paul.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    Bob Riebel learned about engines with the help of this one-of-a-kind 1947 Minneapolis-Moline U tractor engine many years ago at the University of Minnesota Farm School in St. Paul.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    Bob Riebel learned about engines with the help of this one-of-a-kind 1947 Minneapolis-Moline U tractor engine many years ago at the University of Minnesota Farm School in St. Paul.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    The lever at the back left could switch the 5 HP Fairmont running from forward to reverse, a rarity in gas engines, but not uncommon for a 2-stroke.
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    This Fairmont, serial no. 47197, was originally used to aerate a lake, but it wasn’t very efficient.
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    The engine ran on an electric motor and featured cut-outs so students could watch how everything worked in slow motion. Bob eventually aquired the engine for his collection.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    Bob found this very rare 1913 3 HP Lauson-Lawton Wisconsin sideshaft engine in a junkyard and fixed it up.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    Bob owns this 1920s Maytag lawn mower, an unusual piece of history. The blade is in the open and people could “get their toenails trimmed,” Bob says.
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    The 1-1/2 to 6 HP Edwards engine can operate on one or two pistons, depending on the operator’s need.
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    Bob found this very rare 1913 3 HP Lauson-Lawton Wisconsin sideshaft engine in a junkyard and fixed it up.
    Photos courtesy Nikki Rajala.
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    Bob enjoys displaying his engines with various implements to illustrate to kids how the engines were used.
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    This 1913 1-1/2 HP Maytag is a rare one, and Bob didn’t find that out until he had already bought it.

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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.



Fairmont

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.