Classic Engines at the Sandwich Show

Annual Sandwich Show brings out unique gas engines.

| November 2014

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.