Long-Lost 1907 Sta-Rite 6 HP Engine Runs!

Reuniting a 1907 Sta-Rite 6 HP engine with its long-lost family — and having a whole lot of fun along the way.

| April/May 2015

I met Jerry Siem at Farm Technology Days in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he saw my display board of Paulson memorabilia and commented on what a nice piece of history it was. He mentioned that he had some engines to sell, and asked if I would be interested. I said yes, and he invited me to his place that weekend.

At Jerry’s, he shared his collection of old farm machinery with me, and then uncovered a partially disassembled 6 HP Sta-Rite engine. I had been looking to add a Sta-Rite to my collection for some time, and was very excited to see it, so I asked if it was for sale. Jerry said that many people have asked to buy it and he never wanted to sell it, but now it was time. He asked me to make an offer, which I did, and he accepted. He pulled out a bucket of parts, and it was missing the mixer and fasteners. He said if I didn’t want the engine because it was missing those parts, I could leave it there. I told him I still wanted it and would pick it up the following day, Monday.

As I was loading the Sta-Rite on my trailer, I asked Jerry about the history of the engine. He said it had been at his place for 62 years, disassembled. He had bought it that way from his neighbor, who told him that it had originally come from the Henry Doehr farm, just down the road. I asked how old he was when he purchased it from his neighbor, and he said he was 10 years old. He was not old enough to drive the truck to pick up the engine, so his dad let him use his John Deere and the hay wagon. I asked how much he paid for it, and he said, “I hate to tell you … I paid $8 for it!” He said he never earned an allowance working on the farm with his dad, so his dad gave him the $8 to buy the engine. But he never had the time to work on the engine, so the Sta-Rite became the centerpiece on their front lawn for a few years. Then they decided to move it to the backyard because people kept stopping by wanting to buy it.

That night when I got home, I researched Sta-Rite engines on the Internet. I found a registry by Denis Rouleau, and going by the serial numbers on the list, I figured my engine, which is serial no. 922, was built in 1907.

The next three days (Tuesday through Thursday) I spent tinkering with the parts in the bucket. Everything was very rusty and stuck, but Gibbs penetrating oil did the trick! The engine itself was in great shape; thankfully, Jerry kept it oiled every year to keep the flywheels turning.

Friday: Skid day. I looked in C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 to get an idea of what the factory skid may have looked like, and then replicated the skid that day.


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