Stationary Engine List

By Staff
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I have to confess to not concentrating as well as usual on the
traffic on the Stationary Engine Mailing List for the last month,
mainly because we had a friend staying with us from the U.S. for an
industrial heritage tour of Britain. It is a friendship which came
about solely because of the e-mail contact we have on the List, and
that, along with a few other recent happenings, has made me decide
to change the style of this article slightly in a way which will
hopefully give some insight into the daily life of our mailing
list.

Of course, just like at an engine show, much of the daily talk
is of engines, with tips and advice sought and shared, but also,
just like at an engine show, the subject matter can wander far and
wide. It is this wandering from subject which allows us to see the
characters behind the e-mail addresses and which creates such
strong friendships.

A mail which summed up the spirit of the List came from Norman
O’Neal, who runs an old iron auction site on the WWW. He also
organizes and runs a charity auction held on the ATIS mailing lists
for the last two Christmases, and a live auction held at last
year’s Portland, Indiana show.

‘The Goodness of ATIS is vast indeed. We celebrate the
joy of our children graduating or winning contests, as well as the
recent acquisition of a new tractor, a new engine, even a new tool.
We mourn the loss of old friends, the passing of our engines,
tractors and even farms on to others. We share our joys and
sorrows, as well as our questions and knowledge about our hobby.
The ATIS lists are a place where the only stupid question is the
one not asked. If one would want a synonym of ATIS, it would be
‘sharing.’ Sharing in knowledge, sharing with the Annual
Charity Auction, sharing in memories past, present and future.
Someone once said, ‘You can judge a man by the company he
keeps.’ I consider myself in good company.’

The internet, with its reputation for high technology, deceitful
self-descriptions and insular behavior, is an unusual place to find
a group of dedicated old iron enthusiasts who have formed such
strong bonds of friendship that 170 of the group traveled from all
over America, Canada, Australia and England to meet up at last
year’s Portland show. On the internet there are no barriers of
age, sex, race or social standing, and no character assessments
made on visual appearance, so our group represents all walks of
life. Recently, a young enthusiast from upstate New York joined the
group, asking for help in choosing his first flywheel engine. While
his finances were lacking slightly, his enthusiasm was not, and a
group of list members agreed to help finance his entry into the
hobby. The following post described the presentation of the
engine:

‘I wish the entire list could have been there when we
presented Tommy with his Hercules. The look on his face is hard to
put into words. I think the engine is in better shape than he
expected. We hooked the new coil up while 1 explained the wiring,
showed him about the fuel adjustment, then the choke, whipped the
flywheels over and bang! Tommy’s engine was running. It is hard
to put into words how Tommy acted and looked. His whole family was
excited for him too. We shut the engine down and I made a few
adjustments, explaining to Tommy what I was doing, changing the
timing. It was quite retarded so I wanted to advance it. Again we
whipped the flywheels over and she was running again. The list
should really be proud of what they have done. Tommy told me while
we were running the engine that he was never going to sell it, that
it was his for life. I want to thank everyone on the list for
helping Tommy get his first flywheel engine.’

Recently, Tommy and another list member took their engines to a
local school, and Tommy was able to pass on his newly found
information to a new generation of possible enthusiasts.

Once again, there will be a big, international ATIS presence at
the TriState Gas Engine and Tractor Show in Portland in August, so
if you are at the show, come along and say hello. We’ll all be
wearing ID badges featuring the list logo (as at the top of this
article), because the strange thing about the business of meeting
daily on the internet is that it’s not easy to recognize each
other when we meet for real! We’ll be holding another charity
auction, and who knows what will raise the most? Last year, it was
a lavender-painted Maytag with an axe embedded in it … no,
don’t ask!!

The money raised at the auctions is divided amongst charities
suggested by list members, with the exception of the total of the
1999 Portland auction, which was donated in its entirety to
multiple sclerosis research in England, a check which I had the
honor of donating, as I am the MS sufferer in whose name the
donation was made. The achievement of an international group of
antique engine friends, connected by the internet, made for a large
story in my local newspaper.

So, this month’s column is a little different from the
previous ones in an attempt to show what a wonderful group of
people worldwide engine folk are. Tools are lent out, engines
transported around the country (we’ve not yet got world engine
transport completely organized, but we’re working on it!),
identifications made and engines dated. Problems are solved, often
only after much discussion, and lessons learned are passed on. Many
list members have their own web pages, and so can share pictures of
their collections and shows attended. It may be that we have
adopted a very modern method of enjoying the hobby, but basically,
it is the same as meeting up with friends at a local show-just on a
bigger scale.

Back to the usual format next month. As I write, there’s
heated discussion going on about mufflers, stories of engines
rescued from decades of neglect, and tips for attracting crowds to
your show display by means of putting unusual additives in the drip
oilers!

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines