Northern Exposure: A Stationary Engine Collection

Stationary engine collector Mark Kinzie of Ayr, Ontario, Canada, shares on his obsession.

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Mark Kinzie's 37 1/2-hp Fairbanks-Morse engine

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Mark Kinzie of Ayr, Ontario, Canada favored drag racing muscle cars in his youth. Thirteen years ago, he switched to collecting stationary engines and says he still feels like one of the youngsters in the crowd.

Mark was only 18 when his father encouraged him to buy his first engine: a 2-hp Hercules engine. He didn't become a serious collector until he attended Russ Reeves' equipment auction in 1989 in Cambridge, Ontario. There, he bought a 6-hp National engine originally sold in Brighton, Ontario. From that point on 'engines got into my blood,' Mark says.

It didn't hurt that Mark's then-girl-friend, Carol, now his wife, liked engines, too. 'When I met her, I was into my car phase,' he recalls. 'We've been married 11 years, but we've known each other for 23 years. She put up with my phases. She drag raced as well, raced go-carts and drove motorcycles, and she'd restored three or four engines before we were ever married.'

As well as the enjoyment of collecting engines, they're a better investment than cars, Mark says. He and Carol share this interest - and their storage barns - with Mark's brother, Ian, and their mutual friend, Rich Mosher of Cambridge. 'We all started about the same time,' Mark explains. Ian specializes in Canadian-made engines. Rich, on the other hand, has a little bit of everything, including a complete set of John Deere and Canadian-made Acadias, from 2 hp to 20 hp in size. Mark and Carol are drawn almost entirely to U.S.- and British-made engines.

Mark is fondest of big engines, while Carol leans toward the diminutive versions. In fact, two of the rarest engines in their collection are small models. One is a 5-hp Christianson, built by Christianson Manufacturing in Milwaukee, Wis., and the other is a 5-hp Crossley, made in England. Both are well-built sideshaft engines with a number of moving parts. The Crossley even sports two sideshafts.

Mark and Carol also own a 1915 20-hp model S Foos they were told came out of a small Nova Scotia sawmill. It has a well-pitted steel rod that operates the wipe spark, weathered from years in the salty air. It's received a good deal of attention since it arrived at the Kinzies' barn. To date, Mark has installed a new fuel tank, splashguard, lubricators and cart.

If numbers alone are any measure, Fairbanks-Morse is Mark's favorite engine brand. He says many of those engines powered sawmills and flourmills in Ontario. His biggest Fairbanks-Morse is a two-cylinder, 120-hp machine that he bought from the late Harold Gaddye. 'He was one of the premier engine collectors in Ontario,' Mark explains. 'He said this engine came out of a mill north of London, Ontario, which is 60 miles west of here. He displayed it like a lawn ornament, but moisture stayed out of its innards even though it sat outside for 20 years or more.'

Back in the corner of the big-engine shed, sitting on temporary skids, is a 60-hp vertical Fairbanks-Morse, also awaiting Mark's attention. It came out of a flourmill about 100 miles north of Ayr, and is in bad shape. On such an engine restoration, Mark says he first does all the mechanical work necessary to get it running again, and then paints the engine. Eventually, he'll build a permanent skid and bolt it to the floor. That way Mark won't be as tempted to take the 8-ton engine to area shows. 'It can be bad,' he says of his desire to haul mammoth engines here and there. 'It will almost take the fun out of collecting.'

Another biggie in Mark's collection is an early 1900s 50-hp Fairbanks-Morse Type R. With serial no. 65799, the engine worked as standby power for a water pumping station in Simcoe, Ontario, about 20 miles south of Ayr.

Two other good-sized Fairbanks-Morse engines in the shed came from an eastern Ontario sawmill. One is a 1923 vertical 37-hp Type YV. The other, probably made in 1926 or 1927, is a horizontal 25-hp Type YH, which Mark thinks was installed in the mill subsequent to the other engine and used to drive auxiliary equipment.

'A friend in Quebec told me they were for sale,' Mark recalls, noting he bought the YV first and hauled it to a number of shows until he finally forced himself to bolt it to the floor.

The YH is on wheels, so it's still making public appearances, including last fall's Steam-Era Show in Milton, Ontario. Because both the YV and the YH were under shelter during their working years, they remain in excellent condition, and Mark says, 'If they're in this kind of shape, I prefer not to restore them.'

Smaller-sized Fairbanks-Morse engines are Carol's favorites. She owns a well-preserved vertical, 2-hp machine, serial no. 145222. 'We bought it at an auction sale five miles south of here about 10 years ago,' he says. 'But we've only had it out the past two years. It was used for little chores around the farm in its day. The iron on the engine cart is even original, but the wood is new.'

Mark's British-built engines include several Ruston & Hornsbys, two Blackstones, Listers, a 50-hp Marshall and a 60-hp National. The Blackstones were made in the early 1940s. One is a five-cylinder diesel that came out of a creamery near Mark's home, and it's waiting to be restored, too. The other is a 70-hp single cylinder. 'It came out of the Co-op feed mill in Simcoe. My father can remember that engine running,' Mark says. 'He would have been in his 20s then, in the 1950s. It had been sitting outside for 15 to 20 years.' Mark bought it from the late Harold Gaddye, as well. 'He saved it, and I restored it,' Mark says. 'He did see it run before he passed away.'

There's also an English-made 32-hp Robson, which came out of a Quebec monastery with a generator attached. Mark speculates it was standby power because it doesn't show much use. He bought it from a Quebec dairy farmer, who wanted it to back up the automatic milking equipment, but then discovered the voltage didn't match. To get it, Mark traded an engine and a generator with adequate voltage.

Ruston & Hornsby is another brand favored by the Kinzies. There's a 17-hp Ruston & Hornsby CR on wheels, and a Ruston & Hornsby 3M, which starts on gas and switches to diesel. It probably dates to the late 1920s. Mark also has stockpiled a number of parts for 17- and 20-hp Ruston & Hornsby engines. He sells the parts or uses them in restorations.

'The 17-hp Ruston & Hornsby came out of a grain elevator in western Canada,' he says, noting that Canada imported hundreds from England, and most went into grain elevators. 'Now that elevators are electrified or gone, most of these engines have been scrapped. Only a few have been saved by collectors.' A rough-looking Kelvin diesel engine, made in Scotland, is broken down in preparation for restoration. The engine is a 66-hp machine that was used for marine applications and has extensive salt-water damage. 'Not a lot were built,' Mark says. 'And there are very few here in North America. The engine needs four new sleeves. That's kind of the real hold up. They're still available and in stock, but very pricey.'

Mark and Carol also have a few Canadian-made engines, including a 1- hp Sylvester, and a 10-hp Desjardins from Quebec.

Among Ian's engines stored at Mark's place is a 10-hp Gilson, made in the mid-to-late teens at Guelph, Ontario, and a couple of oilfield engines that trace back to the United States. One is a dark green JC, but Mark says its plates are gone and they don't know where it was used. The second is a Clark-Norton half-breed engine. The front half is a gas engine and the back half is a steam engine that came out of Wellsville, N.Y. Both engines are nicely restored. Ian also has a large collection of Goold, Shapley & Muir, Ltd., Monarch and Chapman engines, all made in Canada.

In another shed, several track-type machines are housed. These include several Caterpillars, including a 20, 30, D2, a couple of D4s and a 955, the latter described by Mark as a necessity for lifting and pushing. He'd like to restore the 30, which is probably his oldest machine and incorrectly painted yellow - it should be gray.

Parked alongside the Cats are other vintage treasures such as an 18-36 Hart-Parr; two Cletracs - a model A and a model E; an 11-hp Monarch, made in the early-to-mid teens at Dunnville, Ontario; a 9-hp English-made Lister that dates to the mid-to-late teens and a vintage 14-inch Cruendler rock crusher, made by the Cruendler Crusher & Pulverizer Co. of St. Louis. Mark says the rock crusher runs well. 'It's just for fun, but we do crush rocks with it,' he adds. 'A 5-hp engine provides more than enough power to run the machine.'

Among Mark and Carol's smaller engines are a number of Eatons, sold through the T. Eaton Catalog Co., Toronto, but built by the Waterloo Engine Co., Waterloo, Iowa. Carol restored a 1-hp and 5-hp Eaton, a 5-hp Lister, the couple's Sylvester, which is a 1-hp and their 1-hp Titan. Mark says they have a complete set of Waterloo engines, from 1 hp to 14 hp. He notes Sylvesters were copied from Associated engines, which also were made in Waterloo, except that Sylvesters have a spark plug in the head and the Associated machines don't. Regarding the 14-hp Waterloo, Mark says he has a friend in Kentucky with one too, and he cast Mark's missing parts. That engine also has its original water hopper. 'You could almost take a bath in it,' Mark says of its enormous size.

Sardined amongst all those engines is yet another sort of old-iron treasure. It's a 1921 16-30 hp Model H Rumely tractor that Carol tore down and Mark put back together, and which they also exhibited last fall in Milton. FC

- For more information about the Kinzies' collection, contact Mark or Carol at (519) 632-9179 or by e-mail: ayrkinzies@aol.com

It came out of the Co-op feed mill in Simcoe. My father can remember that engine running,' Mark says. 'He would have been in his 20s then, in the 1950s. It had been sitting outside for 15 to 20 years.