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'Common' Engines and Historical Significance


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  #1  
Old 07-29-2019, 06:14:02 PM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Hello all
A statement in another thread got me thinking about the opinion of a lot of collectors. And I reckon it's utter rubbish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rodneyt View Post
I actually think its ok to have some fun with these old machines,
especially when they are 'ordinary-common' type machines,
rather than very rare historically significant items where originality is more important..
In my opinion, the more commonly owned and used engines are more historically significant then the ones owned by a few. That is why I always take what some collectors call common engines to rallies. More people can relate to them and more people tell me stories of when they worked them. To me bringing back people's memories is more important then sitting there like a stale bottle of beer watching people walk past.

Why is it that something, that may be rare, means it's historically more significant then something that was built, and used, in great numbers to a number of collectors?
A case in hand: Put a Barlow against a little Ronny N or a Lister D and I know which one I would have used in the dairy. The Ronny or the Lister.
The Barlow is a heap of crap next to the Ronny or Lister. So is the Barlow more historically significant in relation to the Ronny or Lister? I can understand why Barlows are not so common. They're crap and most users would have thrown them down the well or over the cliff or into the washout in no time flat.
In my way of thinking, what some collectors call common were the best engines. They worked and stayed going for a long time because of their great design and good pricing. So does that make them historically insignificant?

I have to mention also that engines that some collectors call 'common' are not that common. Before I mentioned the Ronny N. Who can tell me how many variations they had over the years they were made?
Lister D with a Solex carbi......historically significant because they're rare or a failure?
Moffat Virtue 3V....how many versions made?

Engines that were made in the thousands are not less historically significant then engines made in numbers you can count on one hand. In my opinion the engines made in great numbers are more historically significant.

Cheers Scott
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:13:44 PM
LCJudge LCJudge is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

I think all makes of the old engines have a historical significance in their own way. No one can dispute the historical significance of an Atmospheric engine as without their development further development that resulted in the four stroke may have taken many more years. From the US perspective, the historical significance of an Economy (Hercules built) model is that they helped mechanize the masses. A lot of farms, small businesses, etc would not have been brought into the age of mechanization, at least at the early date they were, without the availability of placing an order from a catalog and going to the local rail station and picking it up. Anyone who thinks the only "significant" engine is what's considered a "rare one" is wrong. Likewise, anyone who thinks an engine that survives by the thousands (or tens of thousands) isn't significant is wrong also..... Just my humble thoughts.
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:16:14 PM
john gilbert john gilbert is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Hi All. Scotty 2, don't forget that a lot of Very OLD engines that were in use before WW1 were scrapped in the thousands for metal for the war Effort, Ship Building, Munitions, Artillery manufacture etc, etc. That would have had very big impact on why these engines are rarely seen today. Those you mention were mostly made from the late 1940's . I have a fairly common engine being a R.Hornsby & Sons. 3hp Petrol hit and miss built in 1911. They were fairly common "in their day", but very hard to find today. and almost, unprocurable today in their place of manufacture, the UK. I personally would rather spend the day explaining to visitors how they work, than looking at a Lister chugging away with hardly a working part to see. Just my thoughts. Cheers, John
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Old 07-30-2019, 01:19:39 AM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by LCJudge View Post
Anyone who thinks the only "significant" engine is what's considered a "rare one" is wrong. Likewise, anyone who thinks an engine that survives by the thousands (or tens of thousands) isn't significant is wrong also..... Just my humble thoughts.
How eloquent and exactly what I was attempting to put across. Each machine is significant in it's own right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john gilbert View Post
don't forget that a lot of Very OLD engines that were in use before WW1 were scrapped in the thousands for metal for the war
That would have had very big impact on why these engines are rarely seen today. Those you mention were mostly made from the late 1940's .
I think you missed my point John. Is your engine more historically significant then a Ronny N? I'm not talking rarity.

Ronny N from 1927. Lister D from 1926.
Barlows were from around 1912/1914 but the vast majority made well after WWI or even the 20's.
Both wars played a part in getting rid of a lot of scrap. The second probably more so then the first. There's a lot of people who would say a Ronny N from 1927-1930 is still 'common'....but find one. A low tank Lister D. Where can you find one for sale? Low tension McCormick Deering Type M's......?
A hell of a lot of people say the Lister J or L are common and they can be from around 1911. Which are more historically significant, The Hornsby or the Lister?

In my opinion, if engines were people there would be a lot people who could be considered racist.

We have an old Kingswood station wagon and people say to me why would we put it in the shed. It's not a Monaro.
Sure, it's not a Monaro but it has the same running gear....., we like station wagons and it has a history with me. Simple.
Go back in time to around 1973. How many Monaro's were around and how many Belmonts? When was the last time you saw a Monaro and when was the last time you saw a Belmont?
Belmonts are much rarer today then Monaros, so will the humble old Ronny N end up in the same boat as the Belmont ie forever unloved and rare as rocking horse poo? Which is more significant to Australian History?

I have to admit I like looking at machinery which have a lot of exposed workings like your Hornsby John. I like to try and figure out how they work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty 2 View Post
Engines that were made in the thousands are not less historically significant then engines made in numbers you can count on one hand. In my opinion the engines made in great numbers are more historically significant.
I should have also put in.....In my opinion the engines made in great numbers are more historically significant because they did more work making this country what it is. Where would Australia be without the Ronny N's, the Lister's or the Buzzacott/Rosebery built engines, all of whom are said to be 'common'.

.

Last edited by Scotty 2; 07-30-2019 at 01:43:26 AM.
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Old 07-30-2019, 03:33:09 AM
karragullengine karragullengine is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Hey Scotty, got any insignificant rare engines you want to swap for my ronny N ��
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  #6  
Old 07-30-2019, 05:58:29 AM
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Eric Schulz Eric Schulz is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

"Ronny N from 1927" would be 5 years too early. That is, unless you know something I don't.

Eric
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Old 07-30-2019, 06:08:40 AM
Wayne Timms Wayne Timms is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty 2 View Post

In my opinion, if engines were people there would be a lot people who could be considered racist.
Hi Scotty,

How does someone become racist for collecting old people?

I think the whole historical thing is dependant on what type of collector you are and how you look at history. There are many different reasons people collect old machinery, what one person thinks is historical is not necessarily what someone else would call historical.

Regards,
Wayne
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Old 07-30-2019, 06:21:19 AM
Darryl Darryl is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Are we mixing up historical significance and rarity with desirability.
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:20:40 AM
rodneyt rodneyt is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

"Are we mixing up historical significance and rarity with desirability."

Thanks Darryl, that has to be close to the mark.
there are a few different ways to think about 'antiques'
I do agree with most of the commentary here,
including the fact we have different opinions.

ages ago i did think everything old was significant simply because it is historical,
perhaps i have now shifted a bit too much towards equating rarity with significance,
when probably i need to better separate 'historical', 'significant', 'rarity', and also 'current $ value' before choosing a category label for a machine.

collectability is very much a matter of choice, if a collector wants as many makes as possible, any model will do, the rare makes will be more valued;
but if you want all the models of a specific make, the rare models will be most valued;
if local history is most important, whatever machines were used nearby will be valued.

this discussion is very relevant to Howard Rotavators,
every Howard collector wants one of the rare oldies,
but actually the most historically significant machine is the one which once was the most common, the Fordson tractor attachment.
this is the model which because of Fordsons being common,
gave Howards the turnover needed to get a viable business going.
these machines are now hard to find, but still not valued much.
(hint hint...)

if everybody does their bit to look after whatever takes their fancy,
at least there will always be 'something' preserved for the future.
cheers Rod.
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Old 07-30-2019, 09:30:17 AM
Nathan Woodruff Nathan Woodruff is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

This is a very complex topic that is hard for anyone to wrap there head around and I have tried with my work in museum based mechanical conservation. From a simplified museum view point you first need to work out the museums aim such as A: a museum dedicated to collection all products and engines made by ronaldson bros and tippett or B: a museum that is perhaps dedicated to the local history of a small town or district.

In the view of option A: the significance is first based if they have that particular example in the collection Next you look at its historical significance and lastly is the objects rarity.
Option B: Local Historical significance is of utmost importance e.g who used the engine, did it develop a key industry in the community, was it important to the community such as powering the town water etc etc. Researching the history can also unearth state and national significance of the item were that local museum must then question if the item might need to be in a state of national museum as its significance is then greater than just that small community. The next part of the significance assessment is how that item can be used to tell the story and interpret history for example it might just be an N type ronnie that you have no working history for but it is something a lot of people have seen in there past or on there family farm etc that they can relate to and tell there historical story thru or that the N type ronnie can be used to interpret the significance of how important small stationary engines were for industry and interpret how they were used. So whilst the item might have little value/significance the story it can tell or history you can interpret from it is highly significant. The last thing for that community museum to asses significance on is rarity, the rarity can be a draw card for visitors but historically of little significance to that museum.

This demonstrates the complexity of significance and how that is interpreted differently among everyone. Some collectors collect purely for the monetary value as see it as a investment so they generally deem rarity and monetary value as significant. Most collectors I encounter appreciate the rarity but do see significance in the history and also the significance of how a lot more of the general public relate to an N type Ronnie or a cs lister for example and how that brings back memories for them.

And that leads us onto another topic touched upon in this thread why do collectors collect. we all have different reasons for that which then what we desire leads to our interpretation of significance.
I think the only place that we can and should be able to nail down a definition of significance is in a museum a place that is for the greater community and should not be to just favor an individuals interests. but as for significance for us individual collectors beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The thing we should take from this is as scotty said about the discrimination/racism some people have towards the 'common' engine is not something they should hold with power and pride to talk down upon the humble enthusiast that drags along his N type ronnie and mk10 villiers to rallies. I have encountered this personally with comments of why would you bother dragging that to a rally instead of dumping it in a scrap pile. But it engaged more public interest than there done up show piece that only grabs the attention of an enthusiast.
I think I better get off my soapbox but this is just my opinion thru research and experience.
Regards,
Nathan
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Old 07-30-2019, 05:58:07 PM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by karragullengine View Post
Hey Scotty, got any insignificant rare engines you want to swap for my ronny N ��
Yep. It has to be rare as no-body knows what it is and it's insignificant as no-body knows anything about it. Swap for a very early N is definitely a goer....


Eric. I have read where the N was started in about 1927 but no proof. Sadly a lot of advertising is not dated. Even 1932 you've mentioned is not into the late 1940's as mentioned by John.

I think we should get back to the original quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodneyt View Post
I actually think its ok to have some fun with these old machines,
especially when they are 'ordinary-common' type machines,
rather than very rare historically significant items where originality is more important.
The way I read that quote is that only very rare items are considered historically significant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Woodruff View Post
This demonstrates the complexity of significance and how that is interpreted differently among everyone. Some collectors collect purely for the monetary value as see it as a investment so they generally deem rarity and monetary value as significant. Most collectors I encounter appreciate the rarity but do see significance in the history and also the significance of how a lot more of the general public relate to an N type Ronnie or a cs lister for example and how that brings back memories for them.

The thing we should take from this is as scotty said about the discrimination/racism some people have towards the 'common' engine is not something they should hold with power and pride to talk down upon the humble enthusiast that drags along his N type ronnie and mk10 villiers to rallies. I have encountered this personally with comments of why would you bother dragging that to a rally instead of dumping it in a scrap pile. But it engaged more public interest than there done up show piece that only grabs the attention of an enthusiast.
Well that's exactly how I feel and that's exactly why I take 'common' engines to rallies. I consider the Ronny N's, the Lister D's, the Rosebery built Type C's, the Villiers and especially the Southern Cross Y/YB (mentioning but a few) the unsung hero's of the development of Australia.
In my humble opinion, the Ronny N and the like could be the new HQ Belmont. None around because no-one wants them.

Cheers Scott
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2019, 07:17:34 PM
AussieIron AussieIron is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Must admit I'm drawn to the rarer engines at shows. Mainly because I may have never seen that particular make, and like to see what makes them tick. But , Scotty, I agree, the so called common engines are often the ones which did most of the work. I've seen probably thousands of N type Ronnies for example over 50 years of looking, but I still like to look at at little Ronnie putting away and wonder how many times it was left to run all day pumping, and it's still running today. Because it's still able to do that, that's also a rare ,well made engine to me . I like both so called "rare" and "lesser rare" engines because of that.
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Old 07-30-2019, 07:24:39 PM
Paul Richardson Paul Richardson is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty 2 View Post
I think we should get back to the original quote:

The way I read that quote is that only very rare items are considered historically significant.

Cheers Scott
If turning again to the original quote Scotty,I think original context can also help to firm up the intended meaning?
Like the 'importance' of any given machine Rodney's quote can also be highly subject to individual interpretation.I took it mainly to mean 'If you are going to interfere with one of these things,it's probably safer to let loose on something that survived in big numbers'.(because)
Regardless of how historically significant any style or whole family even of engine,it usually turns out that as an individual item they might be considered more expendable?
It might be just me,but that's mostly what I took it to mean?

A similar example might be vintage furniture?I recall the story of the bloke in Tasmania who decided to give his old 1800s couch a freshen up,some new lacquer and reupholstered.
No big deal I suppose,if you wanted to paint an old chair or strip and recover the laminex from an old table?
In this case the owner had his couch expertly valued AFTER his restoration was completed.The result restored was $10,000.The valuer had to also bring the owner the bad news,that if it was left in the condition it was prior to 'restoration',the value would have been easily in the vacinity of $250,000.
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:48:00 AM
Wayne Timms Wayne Timms is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl View Post
Are we mixing up historical significance and rarity with desirability.

Hi Darryl,

Historical signiifcance has nothing to do with desirability, unless I guess the machinery is historically desirable.

Regards,
Wayne
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:53:35 AM
Darryl Darryl is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Typo ! I ment histerical significance.
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Old 08-02-2019, 04:46:01 PM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

To me all engines have a story and all have some historical significance. Some more than others, probably because of their application or the influence they had in agriculture and industry. All countries have engine makes that fall into that category. Mention has been made of the Ronaldson and Tippett N and how good they were/are. In NZ the Anderson is the stand out. They are so common that you can hardly give them away, but a great engine. In the UK it is the Lister D and in the US there are several makes that are the same.

Some engines are rare because they were no good, others because not many were produced.

Some collectors like to collect rare engines and can be snobbish about that. There is not enough rare engines to go around so the rest of us can only have what we can find or afford.

In my collection I have some uncommon engines and some very common engines, they all give me that same amount of pleasure be it rallying or restoring.

Rarity doesn't always equate to high value and likewise some common engines can command a good price because they are desirable. Here in NZ the early petrol Hornsby's are common, but desirable and can fetch good money.

All engines collected for what ever reason have had an important role in the past and should be viewed in that way.

Merv.
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Old 08-05-2019, 02:41:11 AM
RustyNumbat RustyNumbat is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Interesting thread.

There's collectors out there who collect and preserve old computers from the 70s, 80s and 90s. They're even less "useful" than a stationary engine, at least with those you could make an interesting display running some machinery at a show, old engines look sound and even smell interesting. But people still collect and preserve them, who's to say they're not as important at an engine from the 1920s?

I think the answer at the end of the day is simplicity, durability and craftmanship. Something made 100 years ago in an old fashioned production line shed is much more interesting than something from 30 years ago that had 500,000 units assembled in south east asia.

I have a Lister D and a petrol Fordson e27n, so I'm as common as muck when it comes to old shit
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Old 08-05-2019, 03:55:44 AM
Winchester Winchester is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Yes well Numbat there was a nice rare engine that stood for years at the Karri Valley resort, a friend tried to get it and indeed had the ok to collect but as often happens it was sold to another before my friend got to it . It was a Thistle Oil Engine and no doubt had a interesting history ,I guess it came from somewhere in the SW.
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:01:40 PM
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

There seems some confusion by the OP as in historical 'significance', as historical and 'historic' are quite different in meaning and not to be confused, that said while all old engines are historical not all are historic, as for common engines or rare engines they all stand on their own merit for collectors with a good understanding of what they are actually looking at, it certainly appears by some of the comments made lately on these forums that understanding for a few is somewhat wanting and lacking or even nonexistent ?
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Old 08-16-2019, 03:00:40 AM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default Re: 'Common' Engines and Historical Significance

Quote:
Originally Posted by typak View Post
There seems some confusion by the OP as in historical 'significance', as historical and 'historic' are quite different in meaning and not to be confused, that said while all old engines are historical not all are historic, as for common engines or rare engines they all stand on their own merit for collectors with a good understanding of what they are actually looking at, it certainly appears by some of the comments made lately on these forums that understanding for a few is somewhat wanting and lacking or even nonexistent ?
Hello all
I'm always up to learn something.
I have no problem with people telling me I'm wrong. All I ask is to have the common courtesy of telling me why I'm wrong about instead of just saying....I'm wrong.
So keeping that in mind: Please tell me what the terms historic and historical really mean so there's no confusion. While your at it, define significance.
Please highlight the comments that lack understanding and explain why they're lacking in understanding, or have no understanding what-so-ever. All to make it possible to have no future misunderstandings.

Cheers Scott (the dope)

Last edited by Scotty 2; 08-16-2019 at 04:44:16 AM.
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