The Stationary Engine Mailing List is an Internet mailing list, consisting, at present, of about 300 people around the world. Basically, it works like this: any one of the List members can send an e-mail to the central computer at ATIS (Antique Tractor Internet Service), and each mail is then automatically sent out to every list member. It does mean a high volume of mail--up to 80-100 e-mails per day-- but information can be sought and replies received within the hour.
Recently, one of the 'threads' of discussion was GEM, how its content has changed over the years and how it could be improved. It seemed that most people take GEM or one of the other national engine magazines, SEM in the UK and TOMM in Australia, and had an opinion on the content of them. The engine List is 'home' to collectors of all levels of experience, from those looking for advice on buying their first engine to experts in specialist fields, and most would like to see GEM covering an equally wide range. To let the contributors to the discussion speak for themselves. . . .
A basket case is my kind of engine. If more of us, myself included, would write about our successes, GEM would be a better magazine.
GEM has been leaning to more of a lawnmower magazine for the last year or so. I have a problem with endless show news and pictures of machines at shows with no description of the machines in those pictures. Of course, I could contribute to GEM but I don't have that much to talk about or show. Now that sounds like a cop out!
The two that I really enjoy are Stationary Engine Magazine from the UK and The Old Machinery Mart from OZ. They are both more focused and professional.
When I first subscribed to GEM, it was published every two months and I really looked forward to each new issue. Lots of good reading about how people found their engines (some fascinating stories here), restoration stories, how-to articles, etc. When GEM became a monthly publication, two things happened. First, the price increased. Second, the quality went down. Doubling the number of yearly issues from 6 to 12 meant that they needed twice as much material. They resorted to using what I consider to be 'filler' material, including the dreaded show reports. How much more interesting it would be if the writers would find some unique engine or related item at their show and concentrate their article on it. Reading of an old engine that was rescued from a pond and restored (or something in that vein) is much more fascinating than reading about people enjoying the homestyle beans and cornbread offered at a show. GIVE ME SOME ENGINE ARTICLES!
Meanwhile the magazine has to deal with a wider and wider range of experience and tastes to remain in business. These days I enjoy some articles and simply pass others by.
I think we're only in a position to complain about the content of GEM and SEM if we've tried to have some input into them.
There were still some good articles, you just had to look harder to find them.
During my days as a novice, GEM certainly helped me learn the ropes.
The contributions come mainly from fellow readers rather than professional journalists, so we have a responsibility to contribute to maintain quality.
I get Gas Engine Magazine(GEM) which covers the whole hobby. I don't really care for the show reports and the 'my first engine' stories, since they are just filler and offer little information to anyone that has been in the hobby for a number of years.
I have only been subscribed to GEM for a short time and find it to be a really good magazine. I look forward to Glenn Karch's article each month and I don't even have a Hercules engine. Any info on old engines is interesting.
I suppose if everyone who complained wrote an article for GEM it would have more to offer.
I just wish all of us would send in more search and find articles along with before and after restoration pictures.
GEM has many articles I initially think as useless to me personally or boring. I then find a few years later that what was once useless is very important and interesting.
Overall, I think it would be fair to say that although GEM came in for a good deal of criticism, it was generally agreed to be 'the' magazine for engine enthusiasts, and if it did not contain material to our liking, it was up to us to contribute articles to improve the content. Maybe those readers who do not have access to the Internet would benefit from the range of knowledge and expertise on the List. Perhaps a recent thread could be taken each month and worked into a short article for GEM, with contributions from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK? Other recent discussions have included how to clean out an old fuel tank, achieving the 'perfect' finish, making an engine run slowly, use of sand blasting equipment, safe use of a crank and freeing stuck pistons to mention just a few which others may find interesting. As the material for each article is the work of several or many list members, it would be fair to say that the author of this and any future articles is: firstname.lastname@example.org