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How many engines are enough?

Hey everyone, I need advice. Three generations, my dad, my son, and I collect engines, steam, and tractors. My 8yr old son announced this week that he wants us to have 100 engines. We currently have 30 engines, 20 tractors, and if we really want to count them, a dozen letter style Briggs and a few Maytags. But I really think my son has caught the dreaded disease of ENGINE FEVER. He looks through all the magazines, local classifieds, etc in search of more engines. He sleeps with Wendel’s American Gas Engines encyclopedia under his pillow. He takes GEM magazines to school to show everyone. He carries pictures of his equipment in his pockets. And, he wants Santa Claus to bring him his own little Oil Pull (with a front end loader on it to lift engines). I don't know, but is there a cure for ENGINE FEVER? – Ron

This is my opinion on having that many engines. There are several guys I know that have over 30 engines, some over 100. The thing with them is that they have so much stuff that they can’t enjoy it all. They restore an engine, stuff it in the back corner of their shop and go onto the next one. There is one guy I know of who has some engines that he has had sitting in the same spot for 10 years and has never touched or moved them. Now what is the point of having that many engines if you never even run them? I don’t get it. – Tanner

In a few years, your son will discover "THE OPPOSITE SEX". This will distract him for a number of years, but after "girl fever" runs its course, he will probably re-discover old iron fever. You old-timers will have to keep the collection safe until this happens. Funny, but that's how it usually works. -- Ron

I'm 21 and that didn’t happen to me. Sure I have a girlfriend, but instead of ignoring old iron, I got her hands dirty and took her to the shows! Let’s just say, I let her know what she was getting into from the start. – Tanner

Ron that is the way to go, I started too late with my wife and I catch heck every once in awhile. 100 engines are not too many, but with regards to not running them, I get a thrill out of owning them. The same thrill as running them – William

I have around 50, from 1hp to 34 hp. About all I do with them is move them around to stuff them closer together for more space which winds up with me putting more stuff in that open space. Eventually the barn will be completely solid. Definitely not the way to go, but I have a hard time letting go of a lot of them. One guy can probably only take care of 10 to 15 reasonably and beyond that, it is insanity. I know because I am there. – Rob

Gosh Rob, only 50? I thought you would have more than that. So, what do you have that is 34hp? Inquiring minds would like to know. -- Bill

Is it something you really want to cure? He is interested in a great hobby and it is good he shows such an interest. Perhaps 100 is too many, maybe get him really interested in one or two brands that he would like to collect by himself. I too, hope to have 100+ engines and a few steam traction engines, along with 600 acres of good farmable land. Let him know he has the rest of his life to collect and he should be in no great hurry. These are thoughts from a young guy. -- Mac

I’ve seen several friends die who had oodles of junk and it didn’t do them any good in the end. I’ve only got three engines and I don’t want too many more due to space and not being able to do anything with them. Right now, I’m trying to get one of my best friends to let me get his 1926 Chevrolet truck running again. It has been in the barn for 20 years and it needs to be on the road again, hauling engines to the shows. He will never get it going again because he’s just too busy. As for the girls, he’s better off with engines! I hope my wife doesn’t see this. -- Alan

There are many phases of engine-mania, the acquisitive phase being the one that does most damage to the wallet and to relationships. If you have the space and the cash, then the sky's the limit, but long-term it is better to restrict the purchasing to those engines that are going to give lasting pleasure of ownership, rather than just satisfying the urge to own lots of old iron. We had 30 or so assorted Listers and Petters, but now we are concentrating on our 11hp horizontal Ruston & Hornsby diesel, plus a few engines like the Spanish "Diter" 15hp vertical, and the Cub flat-twin diesels, both of which are fairly unusual and are a pleasure to play with, when I get the time! – Peter

I started collecting when I was 15. I am now 42 and still collecting and this was one of the smartest things that I have done. Engines that I gave $400 for back in the 80's are now worth thousands. My advice is to buy bargains and what you can afford. Money with interest at 1.5% is very boring. – Mike

I can relate to acquisition fever. I'm just about through that phase and just about out of money! Thanks to the constant insults (reminders) from my mentor about what I was bringing home, I have settled into a particular type which keeps me from buying everything in sight. No complaints though, I have plenty of fodder if I need to liquidate something to buy something else. And I learned a bunch about being very careful to inspect before settling on a price. That led to some real post-purchase escapades! Teach the little guy how have a discerning eye for assessment and be able to bargain with the best and he'll be fine, one engine or a hundred! -- Kenny

I seems to me that the HUNT for another engine is as fun as getting it running. I've been collecting since I was 15 and I'm now 25. I average about five engines a year. I'm not picky because I like them all! There are only a few engines I will never part with: the ones I bought for my dad when he was alive. The rest I'll trade for other engines or sell. -- Doug

One is enough. Especially so when engines I haven’t seen for 20 years are taking up valuable space in the sheds. I'll never make a profit on them because I paid the going price for them, and freight, taxes and upkeep on the buildings have to be considered too. It's cheaper and more enjoyable to help you guys fix your engines, and to watch you run them. -- Harvey


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