When Rick Crawford got hold of an early Stover Model X, it was less by design than by default.
A Stover engine was, in fact, the furthest thing from his mind as he restored a 4 hp Fairbanks-Morse T. Instead, he was thinking about the carburetor he needed to complete the FM project.
“I went to a swap meet, and I saw one for $2. I have a buddy who’s very knowledgeable about engine parts, and he said, ‘Buy it: We’ll adapt it to the Fairbanks-Morse, and get it started, anyway.’ So, I bought it and hung it on the wall of the garage, where it sat for two and a half years. I never touched it.”
One day, Rick’s friend called. He’d found a Stover for sale.
“Do you still have that carburetor?”
“I’ll be right over.”
When the two matched the carburetor to the 1913 10 hp Stover, it was a perfect fit.
“It was the exact carburetor, as best as we can tell,” Rick said. “It looks like it’s actually the carburetor off that engine. I think the previous owner had lost the carburetor, and somebody else found it, because the likelihood of that floating around is just zero. Needless to say, we put the carburetor on. I took it to (a show at) Vista, and the guy who had started the restoration just about killed me.”
The ignitor engine was originally used in a mine.
“Originally, it was used in a California mine, probably a silver mine,” Rick said. “It was actually in the shaft; it had a hoist on it. In fact, the hoist was still on it when I first saw it, but it was extremely heavy and large, so it’s not on it now. They used it to hoist up ore on a tripod. They hauled it out in pieces, and I believe that’s how they put it in, because it was so heavy (2,000 pounds). It was probably about as big an engine as you would see in the mines.
“When it came out, the rod was bent like a U, but it’s the same rod that’s on there now,” he said. “The person who got it out didn’t do much with it before he sold it.”
When the second owner got it, the engine was missing the carburetor, so he straightened the bent rod, started restoration, and then spent three years trying to find a carburetor before giving up.
“I was the third one to work on it, and finally get it running,” Rick said.
The engine is coated in Stover green, but it hasn’t been “prettied up.”
“That’s the real casting,” Rick said. “It was that rough.”
Another early engine Rick enjoys showing is a 1915 1-1/2 hp Rock Island.
“That’s the engine everybody wants to buy,” he said. “It was an older restoration when I bought it. After I got it, I fixed it and painted it. It uses an ignitor. It’s in very nice shape, it’s very sought after. You do see them around, but everybody just loves them. It just runs so quiet, and it’s all original. If you like gas engines, it’s one of those engines you think you have to have.”
Rick added a 1922 1-1/2 hp Alamo to his collection because of family ties — the engine’s, not his.
“I bought it because Rock Island and Alamo were built by the same company,” he said. “It’s kind of neat that they’re sister engines.”
Part of Alamo’s “blue” series, the engine was originally used on an irrigation pump. It had been restored when Rick found it at a Washington swap meet.
“My father-in-law and I go to a swap meet there in April at the rodeo arena,” he said. “We get up in the middle of the night, drive to the swap meet, and we’re there to watch the trucks drive in. Then we go back in the summer with the motor home and get the goodies.”
Rick’s collection includes Fairbanks-Morse, Jaeger, Waterloo and Blythe engines. Hercules engines, though, are among his favorites.
“I have a 1917 Hercules marine engine originally owned by the U.S. Navy,” he said. “It has a lot of copper and brass. It’s just beautiful.” An old bike chain is used to run the engine’s box magneto, which was patented in 1905.
Another Hercules in his collection — a 1-1/2 hp 1915 model — has a Webster tri-polar with brass band. “Hercules is the classic of all gas engines,” he said. “It just has a classic shape. Hercules was really artistic when they didn’t have to be.” FCFor more information: Rick Crawford, 33092 Windsor Ct., Yucaipa, CA 92399; (909) 797-6347; e-mail: rickcS5@aol.com.