Craftsman Favors Mini Engines

Collector and craftsman Bill Gorman creates detailed, replica mini engines

| October 2000

Bigger is not always better: Just ask small engine enthusiasts. Where to find them? Go to a show where engines are surrounded by smoke, steam and loud noises ... but you won't find them there. Look for the smooth-running miniatures on a tabletop nearby. 

Mini engines, usually less than a foot long, are built to exacting scale, proportions and detail. Some are replicas of real antique engines, while others are hybrids conceived by their hobbyist makers.

Bill Gorman, a mini engine maker, can often be found with his creations at shows in the region around his Independence, Mo., home. An expert on heavy equipment engines, he shifted into minis in 1979 and continues to craft and show them in retirement.

Among his favorite shows is one at Republic, Mo., near Springfield. He's found that being a member of the MO-KAN Antique Power Association there has been rewarding, both in participating in shows, and discussing minis with other craftsmen.

"After I retired, I thought I never wanted to see the inside of another engine," Bill says. "But I guess that it gets into your blood, so now mini engines it is."

"I first built two little steam engines, drawing on printed information, such as the Lindsay publications, old engineering plans, books and magazines. I look toward building engines and things with the old principles that did work."