The 2019 show season is effectively over, making this the time for me to put out my annual reminder to readers to send in photographs of the engines you displayed and the shows you attended in 2019. Although some areas of the country were plagued by rain (Portland doesn’t count; it rains there for the show every year!), by and large, it sounds like most of you got to spend more than a few weekends hanging out with like-minded old engine fans, sharing your engines and learning about engines you’ve rarely or never seen.
That last point reminds me of a particular interest I have of late, namely, learning more about engines that were adapted by their makers – or a third party – to configurations never considered when they were first designed. Examples include the 2-cylinder (one for power and the other for the compressor) Schramm compressor engine and Associated’s 2-cylinder tractor-turned stationary engine.
Humans are nothing if not curious, and various inventive souls applied engines – and tractors – to all manner of chores their original designers never considered. The Fordson tractor is a perfect example of this, a machine modified and adapted from its original farm focus to jobs ranging from toboggan duty in the snow to road rolling and crawler applications. Conversely, Ford’s Model T was adapted to tractor duty – and all sorts of other applications never imagined by Henry Ford. Moving forward, I’m hoping to collect images and examples of this type of ingenuity as applied to gas engines, to share here in the pages of GEM. If you know of interesting applications you’d like to share – and if you have show pictures from 2019 to share – please email me at or write to me at 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.
As promised last issue, where we shared the fruits of young engine enthusiast Dana Kehoe’s efforts restoring a 1910 1-3/4hp air-cooled Galloway, this issue features yet another restoration by a young enthusiast. Emma Riese was only 14 when she launched into the restoration of her late father’s 1921 2hp Waterloo Boy, but two years and many hours of work later, the engine is finished, and it’s superb.
Like Dana, Emma was mentored by engine restorer and enthusiast Jim Faith, who is acting on his conviction of the immense value kids receive by applying themselves to focused mechanical tasks such as the restoration of vintage engines. Those of us already bitten by the bug know he’s right, of course, but convincing a younger generation reared on bits and bytes that pistons and flywheels are cool is nothing if not a challenge. One, it seems, that Jim has taken on with great resolve.
After several such restorations, Jim knows the difference these projects can make in a young person’s perspective, broadening it in ways they never could have imagined. It’s interesting to think how much we yet have to learn from the past, and in ways we haven’t considered – and that vintage gas engines could be a vital link in the process.