So Many Engines… So Little Space

By Staff
1 / 5
Knox home on palm-tree-lined street.
2 / 5
A view of Blaine's extensive gas engine collection.
3 / 5
Blaine's collection of hog oilers.
4 / 5
Blaine Knox poses with some of his engines stored outdoors.
5 / 5
At left, a rare California-made engine. At right, an engine in 'as found' condition.

GEM Correspondent

It’s a routine played out in the shops of most gas engine
collectors find a rusty old treasure, fix it up, and immediately
start work on the next project.

That’s exactly what Blaine Knox of Redlands, California,
does; one engine restoration after another. But now he has two
problems. One, he’s run out of storage space; two, he
doesn’t know exactly how many engines he has.

‘I know it’s over 300,’ he says, ‘but every time
I try to count, I get a different number. Everyone’s welcome to
come and give counting them a try. It’s easy to count the ones
on the shelves. It’s the ones in the middle that give me
trouble,’ says Blaine.

Blaine lives along a wide palm-tree-lined boulevard in the
historic section of Redlands, just off the freeway. Even
Blaine’s home, built in 1900, is a historic landmark. He moved
to California from Missouri in 1940 and worked as a machinist until
his retirement.

It was less than 15 years ago that he got bitten by the engine
bug. Now he makes regular trips back east with his truck and
trailer hunting for new restoration projects. Waukee Swap, Rollag
and Cool Spring are among his favorite stops.

‘It’s a disease that there’s no cure for,’ says
Blaine. ‘You catch it pretty quick and it just keeps getting
worse. Those flywheel engines just get hold of you. I fall in love
with them all, even the little Maytags.’

‘Most of the engines were made in the east and stayed there.
There’s very few that were made in California.’

He does have one 19?? 12HP West Coast engine made in San Diego.
It stands next to his 6 HP Associated. The Associated is one of his
particular favorites. Originally from the Appalachian Mountains,
it’s one engine he has no plans to restore.

‘It looks rough, but it runs perfect. Some of my engines
were in bad shape when I got them. I want to keep this one just the
way it is so people can see what they look like before all the
work.’

And Blaine’s put a lot of work into restoring his prizes.
He’s done all the restoration work himself, and only has three
or four more to finish. A few of the larger ones, including a 6HP
Foos, stand sentinel outside the barn he built behind his house.
Inside, hundreds of smaller engines sit on shelves that line the
outside walls to the rafters. The floor area is filled with the
larger engines, and he’s left just enough space for a small
walkway around the edge. His Maytag collection is in a little
alcove in’ the front.

With light streaming in from the skylights, Blaine’s
collection is a colorful mix. ‘I wasn’t always authentic
when I picked colors for the paints,’ he explains. ‘Most
engines were red or green, so instead of having 150 red and 150
green I used colors I liked when it came time to paint.’

His biggest engine is a 15HP Jacobs and his smallest a 1HP
Mogul. He’s got a nice assortment of rare engines including an
Illinois Chanticleer (that’s rooster in French). Looking over
his collection you’ll see Economy, Majestic, Foos, Novo,
Stoner, Monitor, Robertsonville, Sandwich, Root and Vandervort,
Stickney, Webster and just about any other engine name you can
imagine.

Along the one side and in an addition on the back is
Blaine’s other collection antique cars. He’s got everything
from a 1901 Oldsmobile and 1906 Cadillac to a 1926 Model T and a
Hup-mobile. He collects early cars because they’re smaller and
don’t take up as much room. Remember, Blaine has a problem with
space, and there’s just no more room to expand.

And we can’t forget his hog oiler collection. They’re
just outside the barn, near the garage door. ‘I just wanted
one,’ says Blaine, ‘but I wound up with 11.’

A little space opened up when Blaine’s Advance-Rumely steam
engine went to his son Jim’s farm in nearby Marino Valley. Jim
is a collector tooof anything that’s old and made of iron.

The acquisition of the Advance-Rumely sparked some ingenuity on
Jim’s part. Fuel, either wood or coal, is too hard to come by
and too expensive in California, so Jim rigged up his air
compressor to supply pressure to the boiler and he’s off and
running.

But what’s Blaine going to do about his dilemma? ‘I just
don’t know,’ Blaine says as he looks over his collection.
‘Every one of them is my favorite.’

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines