Vintage Iron: Old Gas Engines and Vintage Farm Equipment

Find of the Month: interesting old gas engines or vintage farm equipment

The author with two of his prize engines: 1 X and 12 HP Bauers

The author with two of his prize engines: 1 X and 12 HP Bauers

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Hello to my fellow collectors! Welcome to Farm Collector's Vintage Iron Find of the Month. Each month on this page, we'll bring you an interesting 'find.' Expect plenty of variety: it could be old gas engines, classic tractors, steam engines, memorabilia, vintage farm equipment or just a very odd farm collectible.

I have been collecting old engines for more than 27 years. My main line is Bauer, manufactured by AF Bauer Engine Works of Kansas City, Mo. I have been lucky enough to get a complete set of the pre 1916 line, which includes 1 3/4, 2 3/4, 4 1/2, 6, 8, 12 and 15 HP engines. I also have the only two known side-shaft Bauers (a 4 1/2 and a 25 HP).

My collection includes a large number of Ottawa engines built in Ottawa, Kan. (I still need a 12, 15 and 22 HP to complete that set).

The third category in my collection is any engine built in Kansas City. I have pieces from eight companies, with one of the rarest being a 2 1/2 HP Royal Manufacturing by Smith & Sons, and a 6 HP KC Junior Manufacturing by the Kansas City Hay Press Co.

The broadest category in my collection is any engine with the word 'junior' in its name: I have more than 10 different juniors so far.

A collection like this means I'm on the road a lot. I have attended every annual swap meet at Waukee, Iowa, and other swap meets and shows around the country, from Florida to North Dakota.

Our first Vintage Iron photographs come from Barry Stickney Wynyard, Saskatchewan. I saw this engine on Barry's swap load at the Portland, Ind., swap meet this spring. It is a very early Stickney 6 HP engine Barry found in Nova Scotia. The engine had been used as a sort of 'hitching post' to tie up boats near a river. The engine's previous use is not known.

This engine was manufactured around 1905 by the Charles A. Stickney Co., St. Paul, Minn. Stickney's 1903-05 line featured only the 6 HP horizontal and the 3 HP vertical designs. A large cast plate covered the top of the crankcase, to allow easy access to the connecting rod. That was changed on later models: To get to the rod and cap, you had to remove the governor housing. This engine also had a tin water hopper, which has long since rusted away.

Paul Thomsen. Lewistown, Mont., has added this engine to his Stickney collection. He plans to restore the engine, which is missing a carburetor and a few other parts. He'll get help in this restoration from Ted Shultz, Waverly, Neb., who owns another early 6 HP Stickney that Barry tracked down up north.

Ted's engine is missing a lot of the same parts as Paul's, and he and Paul plan to work together to restore both engines. This is such a fun hobby -where everyone works together to bring this old stuff back to life.

Barry's luck continued: on his way to Portland this spring, he found a Stickney engine that had been made into a log splitter, and it became a source of parts for the engine Paul bought. A Stickney is a very sought-after addition to anyone's engine collection.

Barry is a longtime engine and tractor collector. He has the knack of finding (and getting) some very rare engines and tractors in the north country. Recently, our paths have crossed at spring swap meets at Le Sueur, Minn.; Portland, Ind.; and Waukee. Barry had a trailer load of goodies at each of those meets. He plans to attend the Portland, Ind., summer show in August, so be on the lookout for him and more rare treasures. FC 

Wayne Walker brings more than a quarter century of experience as a collector to Farm Collector, where he is the marketing director and a columnist.