Wheels of Time: Falk Co. Engines

The wheels of time have moved slowly for this 5 HP Falk Co. engine, but thanks to Gary Bahre its future is bright once more.

| December/January 2015

5 HP Falk engine

The 5 HP Falk engine in the corn fields of Illinois. It's believed to have been built about 1912.

Photo by Gary Bahre

Falk Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, started building engines around 1910, focusing on high-grade engines with sideshafts, volume governors, lots of moving parts, lots of machined parts and Secor Higgins carburetors for low-grade fuels.

In 1912, M. Rumely Co. bought the Falk Co., adding it to their line of products. Late in 1915, Rumely went into receivership. Advance-Rumely was formed, and soon after the Falk engine line was phased out.

Falk Engine E433

Let’s jump ahead to the mid-1960s when a young David Johnson saved a 5 HP engine (plus a 10 HP that went to his friend Harold Jarvis). David removed the engine from a farm near Marshalltown, Iowa, where it had worked elevating corn into a barn and other duties. It was taken off broken trucks and brought inside to get running. In the late-‘60s, David showed this engine at the Old Thresher’s Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Then time stood still for the Falk as David finished school, went to work, got married, started a family and moved a few times.

In the mid-1970s, David’s father brought the Falk to him from Iowa to southeastern Illinois. The flywheels were removed to help with handling the weight and the engine was stored away in a barn.

The wheels of time move slowly – to around the year 2000. On a rainy day at work I took a ride in the country looking for deer, turkey and engines (what a way to spend a rainy day). I looked along fence rows and by old barns as I drove along. To my surprise, I almost ran an engine over with my truck! I saw a mailbox that had an 8 HP Bessemer holding it up. I stopped at the farm house and asked about the engine. David, the owner of the engine, was very pleasant, and he talked about his interest in engines. We both had a good laugh at the near miss with my truck. David showed me a few of his engines, but all the large engines were taken apart. He told me that was done to lighten the load when moving them.

Time went by. We kept in touch, became friends, and in late-2011 David called to ask if I would like to take a few engines off his hands. So an 8 HP Novo, a throttle-governed 6 HP Titan, a 5 HP Collis and a dishpan Fairbanks-Morse came home with me. In 2012, I restored the Novo. At my crank-up in March 2013, the Titan came back to life. Also in 2013, the Collis returned to working order.