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Collecting 50+ years

Chris Epping

Subscriber
Age
36
Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
An interesting thread was started today on the lugs and cleats forum regarding "Pioneers of the Hobby". Reference:

http://www.smokstak.com/forum/showthread.php?t=158465

I had been wanting to start a thread in this forum recognizing folks that have been collecting gas engines for 50+ years, so this has given me a boost to do so. This day in age it's rare for anyone to stick with anything for 50 years, so I thought it would be a milestone worthy of recognition and congratulations.

This summer happens to mark 50 years since my father Rod purchased his first gas engine shortly after my grandfather purchased the 30-60 S Rumely that started their lifelong hobby (April 1966).

Please feel free to share stories of your own or of collectors you know who started early in the hobby before it was "fashionable." These are the fellows that preserved the engines that we have to play with today.
 

FWurth

One Millionth Post
Last Subscription Date
07/29/2019
My family collecting story started when Dad took us kids to the first American Threshermen's first get together In the early 60s at the temporary place at Highland IL. We met those early organisers and as a result we got our first Oil Pull shortly after in 1965. Mr. Arthur (Butch) Knepper lined us up with a dandy little 15-25 that was close by. It is still in the family. Dad lost interest early on but my brother and I still actively drag home the odd tractor now and then. I my self am more of a collector than a restorer. With the higher prices of new additions, I plan on getting back to resurrecting those already on hand! :beer:
 

Elden DuRand

In Memory Of
Age
78
Last Subscription Date
12/22/2017
I'm not a big-time collector but have been interested in them since I was a little kid in the early '50's.

I got my first engine given to me in about 1951 or so. It was a Fairbanks-Morse dishpan. I traded it for an early F-M Jack of All Trades which I still have.
 

Gene Fisher

Sponsor
Age
81
Last Subscription Date
11/22/2019
I am not a large collector of engines any longer just have a couple. I have restored more than i would like to remember but always felt they would not go to scrap when restored and running again.
I purchased my first engine a Fairbanks Morse salt block in 1964 and have all these years with just a few years off now and then continued to enjoy this hobby.
Chris, as far as the rewards for all these years, the men and women i have met as well as the ones providing parts etc has been the best part of the hobby. Also to the ones that designed and built the engines my hat is off to them.
I guess the old saying that men are hunters and gatherers proves to be true and if i had it to do over would do it again.
Now when i buy bananas i buy ripe ones not the green ones, but still fooling with retired iron.
Still having fun and going through Texas
 

JSWithers

Registered
Age
63
My dad, Jim Withers, started collecting gas engines about 1960 and continued until his death in 2012. His collection is still on display at Rollag and continues to undergo improvements to the display to this day (another busy summer at Rollag). I have always believed he was one of the pioneers of the hobby but there were in fact quite a few old collections around back in the 50's and 60's that dad would buy and trade from. I never had many of my own engines as dad always told me I didn't need to because he would always have enough for the both of us. Boy, was that the truth. I think he didn't want to compete with me.:shrug: This year will be 50 years of attending the show at Rollag for me. Next year will be 50 years of dad and I showing engines at Rollag (and some other shows). My brother Keven started attending in 1971. It sounds like a long time and there are lots of memories and stories but really...where has the time gone? Oh to have some of the engines back that passed through dad's collection. Too numerous to mention.
 

oldironlindy

Registered
Last Subscription Date
12/14/2016
One of my most memorable experiences was spending a day with Doc Paul Harvey at the Cool Springs power museum, He has so many amazing stories about acquiring many of the engines that are displayed at the museum. The show wasn't going on but he was kind enough to give us a personal tour and tell us his stories.
There is another gentleman a little ways south of me that has an amazing collection of engines, he has the stacked up in all of his sheds and has stories of acquiring many side shafts and a cam stopper for under $10 back in the day, he has never sold anything and is also a master machinist.
 

Dustin D Ehli

Subscriber
Age
35
Last Subscription Date
12/20/2019
My parents or grandparents were never really into stuff like this so i'm about 40 years behind the game, got a solid 10 in though and definitely looking forward to 50 years of working on this rusty old crap.

Chris, you guys have built a world class collection that you should be very proud of. :D
 

Bill Hazzard

Registered
Last Subscription Date
08/28/2008
Number 1 on my list is Henry Ford, he was saving engines in the 1920's and thanks to his museum many are now in the hands of collectors which gives people a chance to see them run. Number 2 is Bill Willock, he was saving all sorts of interesting items in the 1940's including the Otto & Langen in 1953. Then there is John Wilcox, he saved many significant engines starting in the late 1950's.
 

Skip Landis

Sponsor
Last Subscription Date
05/06/2019
I bought my first engine in 1963 out of necessity. I needed something to cut firewood. It was a 5 horse New Holland saw rig that cost &50.00 when you didn't make $50.00 a week. Spent some time in the dog house over that one. I regret not keeping a record, because there have been hundreds since. I also got GEM from issue #1 & new Elmer Ritezman personally. skip
 

Chris Epping

Subscriber
Age
36
Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
Number 1 on my list is Henry Ford, he was saving engines in the 1920's and thanks to his museum many are now in the hands of collectors which gives people a chance to see them run. Number 2 is Bill Willock, he was saving all sorts of interesting items in the 1940's including the Otto & Langen in 1953. Then there is John Wilcox, he saved many significant engines starting in the late 1950's.
Bill,
Ford, Willock, and Wilcox are all good mentions. Henry Ford deserves recognition for sure considering he started in the 20's (one of the reasons I've never bought anything but a Ford vehicle to this day). He was saving engines before anyone had ever thought of them being a commodity. His influence either directly or indirectly saved most of the American made slide valves in the country.

In addition, in regards to this thread, I appreciate all the good replies and I look forward to hearing from or about anyone who has been collecting since the 50's-60's. It doesn't matter if you were collecting Ottos or if you were collecting Fairbanks Z's - anyone interested that many years deserves recognition.

Thanks again for the good replies - and yes Dustin, I hope many of us here that are relative "newcomers" will be able to reach the 50 year mark someday.
 

BuckeyeMan

Registered
Then there is John Wilcox, he saved many significant engines starting in the late 1950's.
You are a little off on this Bill, John got his first engine when we was only 13 years old. (1949) The story he told me was he had been at the junk yard and found a little 1 1/2 Hp Stover that we wanted, So he got his father to take him to the junk yard to get the engine. Well dear old dad said that a piece of junk you should get this one. IHC LA. It is hard to believe a man that started off with an engine like that would end up with some of the largest engines ever saved.

My father ( Wayne Hawkins ) got his first engine when he was 17. It was a little 1 1/2 Hp Stover also. Dads been at it since 1959..............DH
 

BobRR

Registered
I got my 1st engine, JD. 1 1/2hp.E in 1962 when I was 10. Ray Peterson and my cousin retreived it, got running and gave it to me for helping on the farm and as a birthday gift. Still have it. I got up to about 25 engines. Down to 10. Going to their farm was always fun. In the summer there would be a couple oil pulls running and engines to play with. Ray and Clifford Peterson started collecting in the 40's maybe before?Bob
 

Mike Otis

Subscriber
Age
67
Last Subscription Date
02/28/2019
my dad started with engines about 1961 or 1962. bought my first engine in 1966, still have a 2 1/4 hp united that was one of the first engines my dad bought.$10 bucks and the man started it for us before we loaded it.
 

Don Selmer

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/23/2019
Known as the "Grandfather" of Gas engines, some might remember the late Andy Kruse of Park Ridge, Ill. A lot of collectors use to wait at the gate to see what Andy was bringing to the show. My good friends Jerry Swedberg along with Jim Withers, John Peternell (the Minnesota connection) along with my Dad, were other BIG INFLUENCES and Pioneers what makes this Hobby as great as it is today.
 

JSWithers

Registered
Age
63
Known as the "Grandfather" of Gas engines, some might remember the late Andy Kruse of Park Ridge, Ill. A lot of collectors use to wait at the gate to see what Andy was bringing to the show. My good friends Jerry Swedberg along with Jim Withers, John Peternell (the Minnesota connection) along with my Dad, were other BIG INFLUENCES and Pioneers what makes this Hobby as great as it is today.
Dad and Swed bought a couple of things from Andy over the years. Some of those items are still at Rollag. I don't remember when John Peternell started collecting but I do remember he bought quite a few things from dad in the early to mid 70's when he was trying to get his show at Albany started. We, meaning Dad, John Peternell, Kurt Baxter and I made several trips out to Crosby, ND with John's implement low boy semi bringing stuff to central Minnesota. So there's another one for the list...Kurt Baxter. And of the early collectors dad knew there was a guy named A.J "Jack" Smith from Mora, MN. Jack had been collecting for a long time before dad met him. He's been gone a long time but I remember being at his place several times. Dad eventually bought a 40hp Charter that is now at Crosby that we looked at when it was in Mora. Jack had gotten it from another long time collector, Reed Rush from Rushville, IN. He had found that engine in Kentucky. It's amazing how some things travel. Dad had gotten several things from Reed over the years including the infamous 15hp IHC that "fell" off the trailer in Wisconsin on the way home. And thanks for the shout out about Swed. Dad and Swed (and I) traveled a lot chasing engines. Sometimes they bought old collections sometimes 100 or more at a time to get a couple they wanted. Dad and Swed met at a gun show at the Armory in Wahpeton,ND I believe in 1964. That turned out to be one of the greatest friendships/relationships in the engine collecting world. Together there wasn't anything the wouldn't try to restore. Sorry, I could go on and on with stories of those 2.
 

Ellis Wellman

Registered
My first engine(Maytag) was acquired 1n 1950.I worked my way up,The most recent is a 50hp Miller-Watts compressor unit It can be seen at Coolspring.John Wilcox and I worked together for about 10 years.---Ellis Wellman
 

LCJudge

Subscriber
Age
60
Last Subscription Date
12/14/2019
I remember Reed Rush well. I sold him an 8 HP N Fairbanks portable in 1973. It was a nice engine, all original parts were there including the original cooling tank.

I know right where the 40 HP Charter you mention came from. In probably 1972 I had just started hunting down the old engines (I was the ripe old age of 12) and went with my dad to an auction. Dad owned a farm equipment business as well as a real estate/auction company and going to auctions on Saturdays was almost a every Saturday event. The auction was about 30 miles from home and he asked the auctioneer, who he knew, if he knew of any old engines as I was playing with them. The auctioneer pointed to an old gentleman, probably 80 or so at the time and said to chat with him as he knew he had some. The guys name was Mac Webber (not sure why I remember it) and he said yes he had a big 40 HP Charter gas engine and a Keck steam traction engine. He lived at Battletown, KY which was about 50 miles from where I lived. Since I was a long way from driving, I asked my dad to take me to look at them. He said we would when he needed to go in that direction. Well, about 3 months later dad told me he had to deliver something near Battletown and we could stop and look at the old engines. We got there and sure enough, there was the Keck. Sadly, the charter had been sold a couple months earlier. All the old gent could remember was the guy lived in Indiana and his name was Reed.

So, there's a bit of history on your 40 Charter.
 

JSWithers

Registered
Age
63
That's awesome Tommy. Dad wanted to buy that Charter from Jack in the worst way but he had too many things going on at the time. There was a guy dad knew from Carlos,MN (about 20 miles northwest of Osakis) that was looking for a big old engine to run his sawmill. Dad told him about the Charter and he bought it from Jack. He hauled it to Carlos but never did get it set up. I guess he couldn't figure out how to run it. He lost interest and sold it to dad which I think is what dad had hoped all along. We restored it and showed it at Rollag for awhile. Dad sold it where it went to the show at New Rockford,ND for a while and then it went to Crosby. It is now owned by the Divide County Historical Society. Keven, Jeremy and I will be running it in July.
 

Don Selmer

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/23/2019
Another one 50 plus year Verne Kindshi. I saw him tonight at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Deforest, Wi. They have a full size replica on display of the "Unknown Soldiers' Tomb" Hopefully I can post pictures.image.jpg
 
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