Story by Joe Maurer, photos by Ron Martin
Within half a century, Stover Engine Works
manufactured more than 277,000 engines. That abundance of engines
means a couple things. First, there are many people in engine land
who have affection for, or at least an interest in, Stover engines.
Second, because of the number of engines still out there, it seems
appropriate to discuss these engines, the engine owners and events
as they relate to Stover. What better format for this discussion
than Gas Engine Magazine? Since we’re not sure where we’re
going here, we’ll use reader response to establish the direction of
We will occasionally reference the Stephenson County Antique
Engine Club, of which I’m a member, because it calls Freeport,
Ill., home just as Stover did; hence the club’s motto, “The Home of
the Stover Line.” Also, the club has a very valuable commodity
relative to Stover engines – records. Currently, we have the
shipping records from serial number 500 through the end of engine
production. These records tell, by serial number, the date and to
whom an engine was shipped. That’s pretty nice to know. C.H.
Wendell has manufacturing records, which he is donating to our
club. These records will be very valuable as a cross reference to
the shipping records. Also, we have build sheets for engines
customized by Stover and sent to other companies. These records
start in 1928 and list approximately 200 companies to which Stover
sold modified engines. Information from the shipping records has
been available for about 40 years.
In the past, members of the club volunteered to send information
to inquiries about specific engine serial numbers. We will continue
this service with myself as the contact. We will ask for a
voluntary donation to help offset preservation costs, to put a
steel door on our fireproof storage room (it currently has a wooden
one) and to electronically back up the paper records.
Stover Reunion 2006
What actually happened during the Stover Reunion in July of
2006? Well, you’ve read articles in GEM covering some of
the engines, but beyond that, not much has been reported. The
reunion was a great success even though Freeport suffered a record
heat wave. Participants came from 16 states and two foreign
Engine folks came from across the country hauling some really
large engines thousands of miles. Celebrities included our banquet
speakers, C.H. “Chuck” Wendel and Ron Wiley from Australia. Chuck
was also available in gasoline alley to sign books. We really
appreciated his fortitude, signing books in the heat. Richard
Backus and Erin Shipps represented GEM. Richard donated
free issues of GEM with articles relating to Stover.
Almost every type of Stover engine was represented, with the
exception of the elusive 19th century sideshaft Stover. But what a
group of Stovers there were! A total of 125 Stover engines were
registered, ranging from the oldest known to some of the last made.
There was also a display of other Stover products and original
catalogs. The Friday night banquet was well attended with 97 folks
present. Ron spoke on the variations of Stover engines sold in
Australia and Chuck gave a philosophical dissertation that left us
Saturday was hot and bright but that didn’t dampen enthusiasm.
The huge display of Stover engines were running as everyone enjoyed
the company of fellow engine nuts and their tolerant spouses. Late
Saturday afternoon, two busloads of 91 enthusiasts toured Freeport.
The tour included a stop at the 1878 factory on the Pecatonica
River, a walking tour of the large 1901 factory complex and a stop
at D.C. Stover’s gravesite. Stover’s monument is the highest in the
Sunday dawned hot and bright. Goodbyes were exchanged throughout
the day as people loaded up and headed out. Most of the Stovers
were gone by sundown. The reunion took a lot of preparation and
hard work, and it was all worth it in the end.
The Stover committee and the Stephenson County Antique Engine
Club would like to offer a special thanks to all the friends who
brought engines and participated in our celebration. The reunion
could not have been a success without you!
What do you want to see?
In the future, we’ll cover subjects dealing with D.C. Stover,
his engines and Stover products. We’ll do what we can with
technical questions but we don’t want to forget the people side of
the hobby. Some results of serial number searches may be included
as points of interest.
Until next time, keep your plugs clean and your igniters
Contact Joe Maurer at 797 S. Silberman Rd., Pearl City,
IL 61602 • (815) 443-2223 • firstname.lastname@example.org