Building a Collection from the Ground Up

| December 2004

The love of old farm engines was planted in El Juenke's heart when he was a child. 'We had a couple of old Fairbanks-Morse engines on the farm in a shed that I used to go in and play around on,' recalls the 67-year-old truck driver. 'We never used them, but every once in a while dad would start one up, and we always thought that was great fun.

Those childhood memories never faded. In about 1980, when El spotted a throttle-governed 2 1/4 hp Stover engine, he bought it on the spur of the moment. That debut was followed by a Root & VanDervoort 2 hp engine, and then others, like Fairbanks-Morse, IHC and Monitor. Today, he has more than 30 engines in his collection.

As El began displaying some of his early engines, like the Fairbanks-Morse or Monitor, he noticed that most engines shown were horizontals. Not many upright farm engines were being shown. 'I'm kind of a different person,' he laughs, 'and I like to have things that other people don't have many of, and show something that's a little bit different, so I decided to go into the uprights.'

His collection of uprights includes Stover 2, 3 and 4 hp engines, New Ways from 1 to 6 hp, 2 and 3 hp International engines, a 2 hp Fairbanks-Morse Jack of All Trades, and a 2 hp Fairbanks-Morse made to run an electric generator. These Fairbanks electrics are kind of a collector's item, kind of unusual and scarce,' he says. He also has a 6 hp upright Fairbanks-Morse Jack of All Trades, and a very collectible 2 hp Monitor with a short neck.

El says it's difficult to choose a favorite line of uprights, but he probably has the most New Way engines. When a friend sold all of his New Ways, El bought them. 'They are a very dependable engine, well-balanced and well-made,' he says. The only horizontal New Way he has is a two-cylinder 8 hp model. His only other horizontals are a couple of Root & VanDervoort (R&V) 1 hp and 2 hp models, 'and why I have them I really can't tell you, except that the 2 hp was quite similar and reminded me of the second engine I'd ever bought, that 2 hp R&V horizontal that I'd originally sold. After I got into the uprights, I started letting all of my horizontal engines go. Some of them I sold for less than I actually paid for them.'

If pressed, he'd admit the Root & VanDervoort engines are his favorites, 'probably because they are more collectible,' he says. 'You don't see R&V engines at shows as often as you see other brands.' But a close contender is his One Minute engine made by the One Minute Manufacturing Company of Newton, Iowa. 'They are very hard to find, and very desirable and collectible.'