2 hp Famous Engine Prize of Collection

Left to the elements for three decades, a 2 hp Famous engine finally gets a loving restoration


| March 1999



This 2 hp Famous may originally have been used on an orchard sprayer

This 2 hp Famous may originally have been used on an orchard sprayer, Mike Mahnke said. Later, it may have been converted for use as a pump jack engine. "Not a lot of these were built," he said. "I'd seen a few, but not any great amount."

Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.

After being abandoned to the elements for more than three decades, Mike Mahnke's vintage Famous engine was nothing more than a planter for an overgrown, volunteer shrub. But liberal amounts of elbow grease – applied over the course of 18 months – resulted in restoration of a classic engine. 

For more than 30 years, the 2 hp Famous air cooled engine sat outside a garage. The property owner said the engine originally belonged to his father, but when his father had no more use for it, he abandoned it at the side of the garage.

When a friend of Mike's saw it – even with a tree growing through it – he knew Mike would be thrilled to get his hands on the engine. He asked the owner about the Famous, and the owner, happy to clear away what he perceived to be junk, gave it to him. Mike's friend, in turn, passed the engine on.

"He just called me, and gave it to me," Mike said. "Those things don't happen too often."

Mike set to work on the 1910 engine immediately.

"It was pretty interesting, a real challenge," he said. "It was probably in the worst shape of any engine I'd ever tried to restore."