Finding Vintage Engines

By Staff

It wasn’t all that long ago that a dedicated engine man could pretty much guarantee himself that with enough looking he could find the fabled “engine in the barn.” Once upon a time, it seemed like you couldn’t go into an old barn without tripping over an abandoned engine. But as time passed those engines slowly got found, and the next thing you know it seems like all the good finds have, well, been found. Yet just when you start thinking the well’s running dry, somebody trips across another fantastic engine lost to time, sitting quietly in the dark corner of a barn, still in its work clothes and looking very much as it did when last run.

That’s exactly what South Dakota engine man Dave Thompson found when he retrieved a circa-1918 6 hp Gade from Arden Abild’s farm. Truth be told, the engine wasn’t exactly forgotten, as Arden was well aware of its presence in the granary on his ancestral family farm. Arden had in fact received an offer for the engine some years back, but he’d hung onto it, happy just knowing it was there. For Arden, the old Gade was a material tie to his past and his grandfather, Sid Abild, who set the engine up sometime around 1918 to power a bucket elevator. The engine stayed on the farm longer than most, still used occasionally up to the 1970s.

Eventually, however, Arden realized it was time to let it go, to pass the engine along to someone who could bring it back to operating condition. Looking at its condition, we’re pretty confident new owner Dave will have it back and popping along in short order, and when he does, we hope to run a follow-up on the Gade. See the story of its retrieval.

Speaking of engine men, longtime reader Andrew Mackey has more than a passing knowledge of vintage engines, having shared his wealth of knowledge with GEM readers for some 35 years, most recently with a six-part series of articles detailing various operating aspects of gas and diesel engines. This issue, Andrew shares his knowledge working with oilers, providing a detailed explanation of several types of common oilers and how they work, complete with comprehensive drawings.

Finally, we’re excited to announce the publication of Coolspring: Discovering America’s Finest Antique Engine Museum, Vol. 2, a close look at 40 different engines in the Coolspring Power Museum collection, with detailed photos and a concise history of each engine chosen. As with the first volume, we’ll share those engines here in the pages of GEM with the return of Coolspring Spotlight this issue covering the museum’s rare 1883 10 hp Schleicher, Schumm & Co. slide valve. Visit our store for more information and to order a copy of Coolspring: Discovering America’s Finest Antique Engine Museum, Vol. 2. 

Richard Backus

Gas Engine Magazine
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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines