The Value of a Picture

By Staff

409 Mills Lane New Albany, Indiana 47150

Most of the old iron collectors and hobbyists I know generally
have some pictures to show off. They usually include their rare or
specialty pieces and maybe some ‘before’ shots of a unique
basket case.

On several occasions, I have read in this very publication, that
someone arrived home and took a couple of quick snapshots of their
prize before unloading it. When I acquired my first engine, I
actually only had a curious interest in old engines, and it took
about a year, off and on, to get it restored. By accident, I was my
own salvation on this project. I wanted a couple of pictures of the
engine as I had gotten it, and since the film had been in my camera
for several months, I wanted to get it processed. Actually, I had
forgotten what pictures I had taken on the roll of film. Anyway, I
kept circling the engine and snapping pictures until the film was
used up. (About 8 exposures.) By the time I was ready to
re-assemble the engine, I wasn’t sure how everything went
together. With the aid of a magnifying glass and that handful of
pictures, I managed to get it back together and running.

I don’t plan on taking that long on another engine, but I
have a similar problem. I’m often working on more than one
project at the same time, so before I start cleaning or disassembly
of an engine, I take pictures from all angles. I try to take
detailed close-ups of intricate areas, i.e., the head, igniter,
magneto, crank and gears. After developing, I keep the appropriate
pictures in an envelope with the project until it is completed.
These pictures have become as valuable to me as a wrench or
screwdriver when working with my ‘toys.’

I hope this never happens to anyone, but can you imagine how the
average insurance adjuster would deal with trying to fix a value on
a 50-year-old gasoline engine ‘which has no current value as a
machine or tool?’ (Settle down, that’s not my view, just
how a businessman would put it into perspective!) In this case, a
few good pictures of the finished product would certainly add value
to the old saying, ‘One good picture is worth a thousand
words.’ I’m not aware of any ‘Blue Book’ of antique
engine values; a lot of value on antiques is based on condition,
and what better way to prove condition than pictures?

Ditto, the above, if some low-life manages to get possession of
your treasures, without your permission, and you have to provide
the police with detailed descriptions! In this case, one picture is
worth ten-fold a thousand words!

My last point, I promise; after you have sold or traded your
fine treasure, and are regretting your moment of weakness, you can
double your misery by pulling out the pictures and lusting after
that which you foolishly parted with!! Or, you can show the
pictures to your best engine buddy and say, ‘Smartest thing I
ever did, getting rid of that piece of junk. It never started when
I wanted/needed it to. It dripped oil and slung it all over me and
everyone else. It was too big and heavy to handle, and boy, I’d
give anything to have it back!’ (Ever notice how, after
explaining all about old engines to a friend or neighbor, you
volunteer to run one for him, and it won’t start for
nothing’?) This, of course, was all in jest. A good collection
of pictures will always serve as a faithful companion to you and
friends may need them for reference sometime.

What about pictures? Well, for the before shots, most
‘pocket 35’s’ will produce what you need. When the
project is finished, and better than brand new, you should try to
get the best pictures you can! I’m not advocating hiring
someone to do it, but if you can’t get the quality you desire,
I’m sure you have a neighbor or friend who might be delighted
to do it for you. Most would be glad to do it for the cost of the
film and processing, and the recognition.

For even more enjoyment, make a video of all your engines. In
the winter when it’s too cold and miserable to get out to the
shop, it’s a great ‘pick-me-up’ to watch all your
engines, each in turn running, and with sound. All that’s
missing is the sweet fragrance of oil and gas. Your pictures can
serve as an alternate way to keep the records I wrote about earlier
this year. Using a soft-tip permanent ink marker, make notes on the
back of your prints (include serial number, costs, paint color
number, when and where acquired, etc.)

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