Girard Man Enjoys Building Engines Four Including a Lawn Tractor
433 East Girard Road Coldwater, Michigan 49036-9642
When Adam ‘Leo’ Urnikis of Girard was a young boy he was
fascinated by the way the area farmers had to use steam and gas
engines to pump water, run generators for electricity, and use
these fascinating engines at the saw mills to cut wood for the
That was over 50 years ago and Adam’s interest and love for
the old fashioned ways of life have brought him to a hobby that
brings hours of enjoyment for both him and his wife.
After serving his country in World War II, he returned to Girard
and married his wife Alma and the couple have lived at their
present home for forty nine years. Urnikis was a tool and die maker
at Quality Springs for thirty years and the knowledge and
dedication to his work brought him to his present hobby.
In 1984, while looking through a gas engine magazine, he
immediately decided he wanted to order a casting kit which would
enable him to make his dream come true. The kit for the single
cylinder water cooled steam and gas engines consist only of two
wheels and a water hopper. It is all rough casting when it arrives.
The work then begins when Urnikis sits down and begins to
completely machine down the parts to the engine. He makes all the
spark plugs, carburetor, exhaust system, crank shaft, valves,
flyball governors, pistons, and other needed items in his complete
Adam has constructed four different engines and hopes to be able
to assemble more. Three of the gas engines took one year to make,
however one took two years to complete. The four engines are York,
Perkins, Allman and Economy. The smaller kits cost approximately a
hundred dollars and the larger models begin at two hundred and
fifty dollars and higher.
What is a hobby without having a special place to work, and Adam
has just that. His complete machine shop is equipped with tool and
die equipment he has purchased over the years, in a warm heated
building he works in during the winter months.
Adam and Alma have enjoyed displaying their gas and steam
engines in Litchfield, Kalamazoo, LaGrange, Indiana, as well as at
the Blair Farm east of Homer.
Adam was especially proud to have been asked by his Army buddies
to bring one of his engines to the World War II army reunion held
Although he keeps very busy, he stops everything to help area
children collect leaves for school projects from his many fruit
trees and proudly shows off his huge tomato plants and beautiful
garden which he raises from seeds he plants in his homemade
With a lot of talent and knowledge, Urnikis has made his
retirement years a time of keeping himself busy and happy. Known by
many of his friends as Leo, he is indeed a special person who has
touched many lives with his friendship, love and a constant big
The above article is reprinted with permission of The Daily
Reporter, Coldwater, Michigan, July 22, 1997 edition. All rights
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