Steam traction engines on TV?
by Richard Backus
Restoring old engines, Part I
Steam traction engines on TV? Could be, at least if the desires of an independent British programming company come to fruition. I've been approached before by would-be TV producers expressing interest in building a show around the subject of old farm equipment, but the few who have contacted me in years past seemed intent on trying to apply the sort of story line used in popular shows like Jesse James' "Monster Garage" to vintage farm equipment. Not much of a fit, if you ask me.
But recently, I received a phone call from Helen Crocombe in England, expressing interest in finding individuals to help their development company produce a program for U.S. TV centering on the very equipment we all collect and restore. What made her different was a stated desire to find equipment that's not only interesting, but, importantly, that has an interesting story behind it. More than just a 65hp Case, her company is looking for a Case with real history, history that brings it alive and relates it to a specific place and time.
That makes the idea a lot more compelling to me, because I'm hard-pressed to believe the average person will tune in to watch one of us as we work through restoring an old Wood Bros. thresher or Keck-Gonnerman traction engine. But if the thresher or engine has a real story, if it can be placed in time doing specific jobs for an identifiable family, then it becomes a living link to the past, a figure in our social, cultural and technological history.
Helen told me they're interested in more than just steam engines, looking for suitable subjects from antique steam boats to vintage buses and cars, and once I brought up the subject, vintage farm engines. Importantly, they want to buy the equipment they showcase, and they're also looking for individuals who can restore equipment and talk about the process in front of a camera. Does that sound like you or someone you know? Contact me directly and I'll be happy to see what we can make happen; it could be a very exciting opportunity.
Restoring old engines, Part II
Just as I finished my conversation with Helen, I was contacted by one of our ad sales folks, who asked if we might know anyone who would be interested in restoring some old engines for Echo-USA, the folks who make chainsaws and other gas-powered equipment for home and commercial use. Turns out the they want to set up a small museum of sorts at their corporate headquarters in Lake Zurich, Illinois. At present they've identified about eight small engines they want to prepare, including a 1958 Kyoritsu Seto-7 (Kyoritsu is the original parent company, founded in Japan about 1950; the Echo name was established in 1978, with U.S. production starting soon thereafter). The Seto-7 is an interesting little engine, as the picture shows, and would make an interesting restoration project. There's also an early Echo chainsaw pegged for display. Contact me directly if you think you're interested in a unique project such as this. -- Richard Backus
The folks at Echo-USA are looking for someone
to help them restore this engine for a planned mini-museum
They're also interested in getting this early Echo