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
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: