An Early Miami Engine

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Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.
What began as a hobby has grown to an obsession, says Ronald Knight. His collection includes this 10 hp sideshaft engine.

Ronald Knight calls himself a “Johnny come lately” when it comes to engine collecting. But for one who started collecting in 1980, he’s made up for lost time.

His collection, now “refined to 40 or so engines,” is nearing his personal goal. “I want to improve the quality, but cut down on the numbers,” he says.

One of his prizes – a 10 hp sideshaft Miami once used in a grain elevator in Kansas or Nebraska – is representative of his collection.

Manufactured by the Middletown (Ohio) Machine Company in the early teens, the engine was typical of those sold to grain elevators across the midwest to power the elevator’s leg (a device used to get grain to the top of the elevator). But by today’s standards, it’s a rarity.

“There’s only a few known of today,” Ronald says, “and this engine has a unique design. The sideshaft rides up high on top of the engine, where most sideshafts are down underneath. It’s just a good quality engine, well made, with unique features.”

The engine was manufactured as a Miami. But because early engine manufacturers didn’t always have nationwide marketing networks, they often sold their products through larger firms. In this case, the Miami was sold by Howe, a company specializing in grain elevator scales. “It’s really a Miami wearing a Howe nametag,” Ronald says. Although the engine is shown here on four-wheel trucks, that is not authentic, he adds.

“It would have been on a concrete pedestal at the elevator.” Although he’s relatively new to collectible engines, Ronald is an experienced collector.

“I’ve collected Carnival glass, cookie jars, and guns early on,” he says. “I’ve always been a kind of a collector.”

His engine collection includes three on permanent display at Rollag, Minn.

Others in his collection are in various stages of repair and restoration, work he does himself.

His wish list includes a Callahan.

“That’s one you could have some justification that you might actually see,” he says. “There’s others – like a slide valve – that a guy can never even hope to see, let alone buy.” FC

For more information: Ronald Knight, PO Box 2173, Bismark, ND 58502; (701) 663-1618.

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