The Imprisoned Engine

| March/April 1974

  • Erie Gas Engine
    Courtesy of George F. Kempher, 110 Seventh Street, Emporium, Pennsylvania 15834
    George F. Kempher

  • Erie Gas Engine

For 74 years this large engine, a 40 HP Climax engine built by the Erie Gas Engine Co. Erie Pa. has been held captive in the basement of a building formerly used as a feed mill, at that time a railroad siding ran close to the building and the engine was unloaded and placed on a native stone foundation. The building was then built over it, making it impossible to be removed with out destroying part of the building, which accounts for it still being in existence.

From what I could learn it has not been run since 1911 when the business changed hands and a hardware replaced the feed mill. The belt is still on the engine running to the line shaft, a large muffler pot at the back of the engine is complete with a 6 inch exhaust pipe through the wall to the outside. An old deteriorated 5 cell battery of the 'Hot Shot' type sets under the front of the engine with a Model 'T' coil for starting. A magneto friction driven by the flywheel takes over by throwing a switch after the engine is started, hot tube ignition is also provided and can be seen just in front of the vertically mounted spark plug, complete with gas pipe and control valve.

With 6 Ft. flywheels and a disc crank and pendulum type governor, it is truly a good example of the engine builders art at the turn of the century. With a good oiling and new wiring I believe this old engine would run as good as when installed in 1900. I have been asked to not reveal its location.