Two Gas Engines Running: Or, From Mouse House & Mud Dauber Nest to Restoration

| March/April 1974

R.R. 13, Box 302, Muncie, Indiana 47302

Everyone who has restored gasoline engines no doubt has tales to tell. This is my attempt at recording a couple of episodes in the history of two engines. These two engines were discovered and collected by me and restored by myself and my father, Louis Siefker (an engine restorer par-excellent) of Seymour, Indiana. The first engine is an International Harvester Model LA, 1 1/2-2 1/2 h.p. The second engine is a Fairbanks Morse Model Z, Style D, 2 h.p. I discovered the International Harvester engine by following up on a public auction add in a local paper. Included in this farm sale listing was an 'old gas engine'. The sale was on a Saturday and it happened to be one that I was working, so on the Friday evening before the auction my father-in-law, Merritt Marshall of Muncie, Indiana, and I drove out to the sale site. We found the International Harvester, Model LA. After we talked with the widow who was having the sale and after we expressed some interest in the gas engine she revealed that the engine did not belong to her, but was actually owned by her neighbor lady, also a widow. The lady reported that several years ago her late husband had gasoline engines the engine from their neighbor, and used it for power to pump water out in their back forty. She said it had not run for years. She reported that she had forgotten about the engine until preparing for the sale. She had then asked her neighbor lady if she wanted the gas engine returned to her or auctioned off with the proceeds going to the owner. The owner-neighbor lady said to sell it. Well, the old engine was stuck and the magneto was missing from it, but the lady thought the magneto was in the loft of an old out building on her farm. Upon checking, sure enough, the magneto was there and the lady agreed that the magneto would be sold right along with the engine. My father-in-law, who was to be my bidder at the sale, and I agreed on the top price we would go. Fortunately, we were the highest and successful bidder on the gas engine. So, late on the Saturday evening in July, 1971, we hauled an 'old gas engine' to a new home.

Threshing on the George D. Bauer farm sometime back in the teens with a 30-60 HP two cylinder Titan tractor manufactured by International Harvester Company. This tractor was purchased new back in 1913 by George Wendel and sons, Henry and Arthur of Clarion Township, La Moille, Illinois.

Before that, in 1909 they purchased a 1908 single cylinder International tractor which was just a big 20 HP gas engine on wheels that propelled itself. It was used here and out in Iowa for farm work. Then in a couple years they traded for a Titan '45' two cylinder with a hit and miss governor about 1910. Then when the above 30-60 two cylinder kerosene burning throttling governor Tital tractor came out in 1913 - it was just what the boys wanted and they traded the '45' Titan for the '30-60' Tital, which was one of the tractors they used until the combine took over.

For the first ten years this tractor was used in Clarion Township by Arthur Wendel for threshing and plowing with a nine bottom 16 inch plow. Then the rest of its life, it was used by his brother, Henry Wendel in Sublette Township for threshing, plowing and sawmill work until about the early forties when the combines arrived. It sat in Henry's yard for about 20 years. The junk dealers tried to get it in World War II but Henry wouldn't let them have it, but they did succeed in getting the big plow which was a lot of iron in itself.

In the early 1960s this old Tital 30-60 was purchased from Henry Wendel by Glenn Thomas of Route 4, Ottawa, Illinois who has restored this old tractor and saved it from the scrap heap.


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