West Coast Engine Comes Home

A Story in GEM Leads to a West Coast in Wyoming


| May/June 2003



West Coast engine

The West Coast engine as found.

Detail shot of the governor and mixer on the 15 HP West Coast engine. The West Coast Gas Engine line was manufactured by Sterne Bros., San Diego, Calif. The age of this engine is unknown, but it likely dates from the very early 1900s.

The August 2002 issue of Gas Engine Magazine featured an article I submitted on the private engine show Bob Critz held in Vista, Calif., last year. The article ran a picture of a West Coast Gas Engine manufactured by Sterne Bros, in San Diego, Calif.

Coincidentally, shortly after the August issue was published, a gentleman in Pinedale, Wyo., was asked to help dispose of several old engines. Not being a collector and not knowing much about the engines, he started his research by reading some recent issues of Gas Engine Magazine. One of the engines he was tasked with selling had the name West Coast Gas Engine cast into the base. After reading the August GEM article, he contacted Bob Critz, owner of the engine in the article, to see if he was interested in purchasing another West Coast engine. Bob asked for some dimensions and photographs, which were promptly forwarded to him.

Two Engines

After several telephone conversations Bob made an offer on a 15 HP West Coast Gas Engine and a 12 HP Alamo with a three-ball vertical governor (the Alamo was my share of the find). Bob and I discussed how much the engines would weigh, how we would get them hauled home and, more important, how we would time the trip between predicted snow storms. This was early October, and winter was fast coming to Wyoming.

The gentleman we were dealing with needed to be there to show us the engines and assist in their loading, and we finally settled on a weekend that fell between his deer hunting and moose hunting week ends. The plan was to meet up at a local supermarket on Saturday morning, Oct. 26.

Bob and I headed for Wyoming with trailers in tow, but we were so eager to get there and beat any inclement weather that we arrived on Friday around noon. We met up Saturday morning as planned, and moved on to the loading process.