Smok Stak

By Staff
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The following comes from, a recent topic on SmokStak, which
can be found on the Internet at:

As ever, various individuals started, commented on and
concluded the following bulletin board thread.

I’d like to hear some engine collecting stories from the
past. Most of us have probably picked up an engine over the last
couple of years for free or next to it, but I was wondering about
engines people bought decades ago. My dad remembers an 8-10 HP
screen-cooled Mogul on a cart that he didn’t buy for $60. He
thought it was too much money for an engine because $5 to $10 would
buy most any engine at the time. I would sure like to see that
engine in his barn!

Then he told me about a stovepipe Domestic he and another man
used to trade back and forth for around $20 (several years after
the Mogul but still cheap). He has owned a lot of really cool stuff
over the years that he bought and sold for very little money. He
has never regretted a minute of it. I think one of my favorite
pictures is my dad’s Rumely OilPull purring away right after it
was unloaded in 1964. It would be nice to hear stories of yesterday
from the rest of you. – Mark

Mark, a good friend of mine (92 years old) in Nebraska told me a
story about trading a set of four wooden-spoke car wheels for an
engine down in Kansas ‘sight unseen’ in the late 1940s or
early 1950s. When he arrived at the warehouse to get the engine,
the guy uncovered it and revealed a new and never run Stickney,
still in its wooden crate. He still has the engine in the shed and
I have his entire conversation and story of the ‘trade’ on
videotape. – Dusty

Mark, I didn’t get into engines until 1977, but regret not
having an interest sooner. My family farm had several treasures I
wish someone would have taken an interest in. Two of my uncles got
tired of stumbling around the 25-50 Avery in the machine shed, so
they tore it up for scrap in 1957. There was also a drum-drive 1915
Emerson & Brantingham that a man from Iowa found out about and
bought for $100 in 1960. There were several engines, and they were
all scrapped except for a Z Style D Fairbanks and a 1-1/2 HP
Fairbanks-Morse Z. I have gotten several engines just for hauling
them off. I collect Ottawa engines and of the 17 I have, four of
them were free. – Dan

I remember when I was younger attending a neighbor’s sale,
around 1977-78. He had an old McCormick-Deering 3 HP on original
skids, still in nice original paint with the Wico magneto. My
grandfather bought it for $25. My father has it now and the magneto
has never been worked on and still shoots a good spark.

My grandfather used to talk about Ford Model As and Ts that he
would buy in the 1930s for $2. He would drive them for a while and
then junk them, and the scrap man would pay him $1. He did manage
to keep an oddball item that he owned, a 1942 Toro Estate tractor.
It is just like the one Arnie Palmer used in his Pennzoil
commercial. The only difference is he painted it dark hunter green
and John Deere yellow. If I’m not mistaken, he bought it for
scrap in the 1960s. – Lonnie

In 1955 I remember a neighbor who had a 9 HP Witte on a steel
wheeled truck, and he was getting ready to junk it for $2. The
engine ran beautifully. Another neighbor had a 10 HP Witte, and he
and his boys were joking about junking it for the astronomical sum
of $5. What would anybody do with that kind of money?

My grandfather died in 1957 and my grandmother sold the family
sawmill, a Chase #1, and the power plant, a McCormick 22-36, for
$100 – and laughed all the way to the bank. I bought an Ottawa drag
saw from my father in 1959, complete with the Hedgehog, for $10 –
and got stuck sawing all his firewood for him.

In 1972 a friend sold me an IHC M for $25, but wouldn’t sell
me the Myers Bulldog that had run since 1930. I believe he is still
pumping water to his house with that pump. – Harvey

I bought my first engine (1-3/4 HP Galloway) from an old guy up
the road in 1968. The price was $5. I still have that engine. Last
fall I bought a 6 HP Mogul at a sale in South Dakota. Price?
$7,000! My, how times change. – Ken

My first engine was a 1-1/2 HP Fairbanks-Morse throttle-governed
dishpan, complete with the original magneto, given to me by a
neighbor who spent a whole day cranking it to no avail except for
the occasional pop out of the mixer. That was about 1951. I was
about 9 years old at the time. He got ticked off at my watching him
(from a respectable distance) and told me that if I could get it
going, I could have it. A half hour later, I was dragging it over
to my yard.

About 1957 an older friend decided he wanted the dishpan. I
wasn’t really interested in selling it, but I told him I’d
trade it for an unusual vertical Fairbanks-Morse igniter engine
he’d just bought out of a barn. We did the deal and I still
have that Type T. That was my second engine.

What I regret are the nice engines I saw go to the breakers back
in the 1950s. I could have filled a garage with freebies taken out
of tractor sheds and barns to make room for more ‘modern’
equipment. – Elden

I was at an old car swap meet in Milwaukee in February 1968. A
fellow said he had this old 15 HP Springfield gas engine that had
49-1/2-inch flywheels and he wanted $50 for it. About the end of
June I got to thinking about that engine and I called him. He still
had it and I told him I would come up on the 4th of July as I had
the day off. He had it at a repair garage where he worked. He used
a wrecker to load the base with cylinder on the pickup truck and
then the flywheels. I paid him the $50 and went home. I found out
later that it was only a 6 HP. I still have it and it is my oldest
and best engine. – John

When I first started collecting engines in 1969 I could haul
away most every engine I found for $5 or $10. Of course you must
remember that back then $5 or $10 bought a heck of a lot more than
today. I bought a running vertical Maytag, with the washing
machine, for $5; an 8 HP Ohio sideshaft for $175; and a 6 HP Olds
for $60 that I took home, put gas and fresh batteries in, oiled it
up and it ran! You could also get IHC Ms and FM Zs for next to
nothing. All of these things have moved on except for that Maytag
vertical, which I still have. Engines found sitting in the hedgerow
were usually free for the asking. Man, those were the days! I was
10 or 11 years old, and that fact alone helped an awful lot. –

In 1974 a neighbor gave me a Fairbanks-Morse 1-1/2 headless he
bought at an auction for $2.25. That was my first engine. Hunting
around hoqs in 1976 with my uncle in West Virginia, I asked about
old iron and did he know of any around? He took me to his great
aunt’s farm, where I bought a 12 HP Fairbanks and Co. Bulldog
for $50 – and the wood mill it was belted to was $400 firm! I
didn’t buy the mill, but I wish I had. -Randy

Ten to 12 years ago I was in the local hardware store talking to
my sister’s boyfriend about an engine he had. A clerk I know
called me over and told me his cousin had an old engine he had lost
interest in, and I could probably buy it. As I was leaving he
called me back and told me about an engine he had seen 20 years
ago, but thought it might be gone by now.

It was on the way home, so I stopped and looked where he said. I
walked right up to a 6 HP John Deere in the bushes. As I was
walking around it I stumbled over something that turned out to be a
Sears Stover Economy. I couldn’t find the owner, so I went and
bought the cousin’s engine, a 3 HP FM ZC, for $200. I loaded it
on the trailer and went home.

The next day I went back to check on the JD and the Stover. The
owner said he didn’t have anything like that and asked me to
take him and show him. He walked right up to it without seeing it
until I pointed it out. His reaction was that he didn’t need
them, had no interest in them, and that I could have them. Free! I
took him home and went back and loaded the engines.

I just had to show my finds to my engine buddies, so I hit the
road to their place. On the way I stopped for a Coke, and when I
came out of the store a man was looking at my trailer with the
three engines on it. We talked a while and he asked if I was
interested in another. What’s the correct answer to that? He
had a 10 HP Witte in an old shed on his property and said if I
would get it running I could have it, free!

As we were talking a man from the used car place next door came
over, talked a little and asked if I was interested in a Delco
light plant. Answer? He had one in his bam and let me have it,
free! In the end I got the boyfriend’s engine, which turned out
to be a FM D, a JD 6 HP, a Stover Economy 1-1/2 HP, a FM 3 HP ZC, a
10 HP Witte and a Delco light plant – and the only one I paid for
was the ZC. All this started from one conversation in the hardware
store. – Huck

The above messages and many more can be found by visiting
SmokStak on the Internet at SmokStak is an engine
conversation bulletin board with over 45,000 messages on file and
is part of the old engine series of Web sites that started in 1995
as ‘Harry’s Old Engine.’ Harry Matthews is a retired
electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Oswego, N.Y., now
residing in Sarasota, Fla.

‘He took me to his great aunt’s farm, where I bought a
12 HP Fairbanks and Co. Bulldog for $50.’

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