My dad

By Staff
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Michele and Grampa getting ready to gas up her 3 HP Stover. (Summer of 1975-she was one then.)
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Dad and I at the Butterfield Threshing Bee in 1972.
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Box 188, Sherburn, Minnesota 56171

Dad was in contact with engines and motors all of his life. He
was born and raised on a farm in Frost, Minnesota. During World War
II he served as a motor-machinist mate 1st class on an LST in the
Navy. For the last 29 years he had worked for Interstate Power
Company, most recently as the superintendant of the Fox Lake plant
in Sherburn….so when gas engine collecting came around it
didn’t take much time or persuation for him to get ‘the
bug’- and he qot it!

He got his first engine in 1970, and the neighborhood hasn’t
been the same since!. Starting up an engine during the evening was
always good for stopping a few cars (or at least slowing them down)
and attracting a few kids to see what was making all the noise. The
collection grew to 33 stationary gas engines, several Maytags, a
steam engine, a Briggs motor wheel and a Whizzer bike. Dad also
collected old and odd tools, wooden-handled monkey wrenches, hog
oilers, etc., etc….our two-car garage soon became a no-car
garage! I started going along with dad to auctions and we soon
realized that the bug was contagious. Along with the interest in
engines, I started collecting insulators, then barbed wire, then
primitives, then oak furniture…..while dad filled up the garage,
I filled up the basement! (Poor Mom!)

If dad couldn’t make it to an auction, I’d go and bid
for him. This led to one of our favorite stories. At an auction
near Lansing, Michigan, dad was watching the bidding and I moved up
for a closer look. A man (Nathan Hickok of Amboy, Minnesota) poked
dad and the conversation went something like this: ‘See that
girl over there? She bids on gas engines!’ Dad always liked a
good joke, so he said, ‘No, you’re kidding!’ knowing it
was me he was talking about.

‘Yeah, if her dad can’t make it to an auction she goes
and bids for him,’ says Nate. ‘She was bidding against me
one time. Here it was raining and she was standing in mud up to her
knees!’ (Actually, it wasn’t that muddy, but it gets deeper
every time Nate tells the story! Ha!) Then he says to dad,
‘Come on you’ve got to meet her.’ They came over to
where I was standing and Nate says, ‘Hi! Did you come alone
today or is your dad with you?’ 

‘No, he’s here,’ I said.

‘Where is he? I’d sure like to meet him.’

Michele working on a couple Maytags. Ever tried to fix one with
a hammer? This was taken last summer, when she was two.

I said, ‘He’s standing right next to you!’ At which
time Hickok turned the fastest shades of red I’ve ever seen,
and I’m sure that moment will go down in history as the first
and only time Nate has been left speechless! (Smile Nate!) And
I’m not sure who had the biggest smile, dad or myself.

Another one of our favorites was the day dad bought the Whizzer
bike. He got home from the auction and was as excited as a kid on
Christmas Eve! He gave the bike a quick once-over, gassed ‘er
up and took off wobbling down the driveway grinning from ear to
ear. (To get the full picture, he was 6’4’ and hadn’t
been on a bike in years.) He got about 1/2 block from home and his
venture was interrupted, the police stopped him….no signals, no
lights, no helmet, no registration, no license…and fortunately,
no ticket.

Helen Hanson with her collection at the 1977 Butterfield
Threshing Bee (as reproduced from the Mountain Lake Observe
r/Butter-field Advocate).

This didn’t discourage him, however. He then took to riding
it around our house. One day he was going a little too fast to make
the turn as he rounded the corner of the garage. He went straight
down our hill and with a flurry of long arms and legs flying, he
skidded and tipped over, missing our apple tree by inches. I think
then mom was wishing he would go into collecting postcards!

The whole family got involved in one way or another with the
engines. Including mom and dad’s #1 granddaughter, Michele.
Enclosed are some pictures of her ‘helping grampa’ (I
couldn’t resist!)

Thought I’d put in a picture of the steam engine. It stands
about six feet high. Anyone have any idea what it may have been
used for?

The collection itself includes a variety of engines that are
fairly common to our area, and mostly 1? HP. Hercules (our
favorite), Fairmont, Associated, Fairbanks Morse, John Deere,
International Harvester, McCormick Deering, Stover, Sattley, Fuller
& Johnson, Witte and Cushman. Someday I hope to add a small
engine (like a Handy Andy), and would like to own a small Rumley
Oil Pull…..dad always said that someone should write music to
it’s beat.

A note to anyone who owns a Fairmont engine. This company is
still alive and well in Fairmont, Minnesota and have the records
for every engine they manufactured. Send me your serial number and
I’ll be glad to take it over. They’ll tell you who bought
it, when and where it was shipped, and even who painted it. They
also have some parts and manuals available.

Now on the drawing board are plans to put the motor wheel on a
red flyer buckboard. Does anyone have one for sale or trade (in any
condition), or even the dimensions? I’d appreciate any help and
information.

We displayed a few engines at the Threshing Bee in Butterfield,
Minnesota this year. It was a great show under the shade trees.
(See the Show Report in the Nov./Dec. 1977 issue of Iron-Men Album
Magazine.)

Dad passed away suddenly in January and is greatly missed by us
all. But with these and many other great memories he remains very
much alive in our hearts-and in his engines.

I also want to say a special thanks to Roy, Marie and Richard
for all that they have done. Not in just material ways, but because
they have given so much of themselves…..and given much needed
advice, encouragement and understanding.

Helen ‘n fish

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