Classic Engines at the Sandwich Show

Annual Sandwich Show brings out unique gas engines.

| November 2014

  • Sandwich Early Day Engine Club Logo
    Sandwich Early Day Engine Club Logo
    Illustration courtesy Sandwich Early Day Engine Club
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
    Mick Ingram with his original condition, tank-cooled Root & Vandervoort 3 hp engine. "The original owner of this engine sandblasted all of his engines," Mick says, "but fortunately had not gotten to this one before he died."
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
    Detail of Mick's 3 hp Root & Vandervoort horizontal dating to the very early 1900s.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Bullseye engine
    Bill Westfall, Bloomington, Ill., with his 5 hp sideshaft Bullseye, built by Jacobson Machine Mfg. Co., Warren, Pa.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
    A cold weather start is an unusual feature on Mick's 3 hp Root & Vandervoort engine. Fuel in the saucer would be ignited. The flame, in theory, would warm any fuel used to start the engine.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Sandow engine
    Paul Harmon, Champaign-Urbana, Ill., with his 2-1/2 hp Sandow. Engines like this could have been used to bale hay, pump water or shell corn. "These engines eliminated the horse," Paul says.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Hercules engine
    A 3-1/2 hp Hercules dating to about 1922, owned by Steve Barr, Downers Grove, Ill.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
    Another view of Mick's tank-cooled 3 hp Root & Vandervoort engine.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Otto engine
    Matt Weismiller's 1912 4 hp Otto engine was in running condition when he got it. He put on a muffler and built the skid and battery box and had a trailer built to house the giant.
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe
  • Sandwich mud pump and Lennox engine
    Jeff Hyatt with his Sandwich mud pump (left) and Lennox engine (front).
    Photo by Lyle Rolfe

  • Sandwich Early Day Engine Club Logo
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
  • Bullseye engine
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
  • Sandow engine
  • Hercules engine
  • Root & Vandervoort engine
  • Otto engine
  • Sandwich mud pump and Lennox engine

The proud heritage of Sandwich Mfg. Co., which produced gas engines and a wide selection of farm implements and tools, lives on in the annual gas engine show held in Sandwich, Illinois. Hosted by Sandwich Early Day Engine Club, the late June event brings together a fine array of gas engines, tractors, trucks and farm toys. Among the highlights in the gas engine section:

Early Root & Vandervoort 3 hp

Mick Ingram, Cedarville, Illinois, showed a 3 hp horizontal engine built by Root & Vandervoort Engineering Co., East Moline, Illinois. The engine was patented in 1903 but Mick doesn’t know what year it was manufactured or how many were made. “There can’t be many because you hardly ever see one,” he says. “It’s the oldest horizontal I’ve seen.”

The tank-cooled engine (serial no. C1504) is entirely original. Mick bought it about 20 years ago. “I was constantly trying to get the owner to sell it, but he said, ‘You’ll have to wait until I’m in the ground to get it.’ And he was right,” Mick says. “His wife sold it to me after he died.”

The previous owner bought the engine for $750 at an auction in the early 1970s. “At the time, everyone thought he was crazy to pay that much,” Mick says. He thinks the engine was probably used in a machine shop or blacksmith shop, possibly to power a line shaft. The model was sold with a base that could be mounted permanently on a shop floor. “It had to have been inside most of its life because it was in such good condition,” he says. “Mother Nature does a number on engines.”



Mick’s engine has an unusual feature: a cold weather start. “It had a small tray that you would fill with fuel and set it on fire,” Mick says. “It was supposed to heat the fuel in the ball above the tray, so when you turned the flywheel it would suck the warm fuel from the ball into the engine, making it start easier. But I think it probably burned more barns down than it did help start the engine.”

A throttle-governed engine, the R&V fires every time, unlike hit-and-miss engines that fire and coast before firing again. Throttle-governed engines give a smoother, more constant speed and power than hit-and-miss engines do. A counter-balance on the crankshaft — rather than on the flywheel, like many engines — also makes it a smooth, quiet running engine.