Gade Engine Restored

Self-taught engine enthusiast restores rare, unique 4 HP Gade engine.

  • Dave’s 4 hp Gade engine sits in the back of his 1926 Ford Model T vehicle, giving show-goers an eye-level look at the machine.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Dave Arnold with his circa 1910 Gade 4 hp gasoline engine.
    Photo Courtesy Martha Arnold
  • Dave made his “best guess” as to the Gade’s horsepower by studying the diameter of the flywheel and the number of fins on the cylinder. He believes it to be a 4 hp engine.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • The number of fins on the Gade’s cylinder can easily be counted in this close-up. Though they were intended to help dispel the heat created by the engine, the fins probably didn’t help much.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • A variety of parts were missing from the Gade engine when Dave pulled it out of the mud, including the oiler (shown here) as well as the carburetor, grease cups and flyweight governor springs.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • When Dave saw the Gade engine on Hazel Magnuson’s farm, nobody knew what it was until he cleaned it up and did some research.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Dave’s Gade is a low-base model; the flywheels hang below the beams of its cart.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • On earlier versions of Gade gasoline engines, brass tags were attached to a smooth spot on the bottom of the cylinder. On later models, the tags were put on the battery case or wooden cart. As a result, only about a third of all Gade engines known to exist have original tags; Dave’s is not one of them.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • As part of the Gade’s restoration, Dave had a Lunkenheimer carburetor cast.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Gas Review magazine ran this Gade ad in 1908.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Dave restored a 1926 Model T truck to use as a base when displaying his Gade gasoline engine.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala

Dave Arnold was a city boy with a farm gene. “I’ve always been interested in engines and the mechanical life,” he says, “flying, working on airplanes and cars.”

But as a youth, he was told he couldn’t be a farmer. “In the ninth grade I wrote about becoming a farmer,” he recalls. “My teacher and high school counselor both said I couldn’t, because I was going to go to college and farmers didn’t need college. That’s a snapshot of how education viewed farming in 1955.”

Booking it

In the 1980s, when Dave attended his first threshing show, he marveled at the array of working antique machinery he saw there. Then working as marketing director for Motorbooks Inc., he looked for books on gasoline engines but found publishers had largely overlooked the category. So he opted to learn by doing. “I thought gasoline engines could be a neat hobby,” he says, “so I decided to learn as much as I could about antique stationary farm engines and tractors and steam engines.”

He found a good source in Hazel Magnuson, who continued to operate Yesteryear Farm in the Lindstrom, Minn., area, after the death of her husband, Denny. “Dennis was an auctioneer who brought home whatever was left from auctions in the 1950s-1970s,” Dave says. Dave visited the Magnuson farm many times to study equipment and learn about old iron, always traveling by motorcycle to appease Hazel, who worried that he might want to appropriate pieces from the collection.

Eventually Hazel decided to part with the collection and Dave bought seven gasoline engines from her. Using what he had learned, he went on to write three books on old iron: Vintage John Deere, The Iron Workhorse: American Gas Tractors and Steam Traction Engines, and Classic American Farm Gas Engines (with C.H. Wendel).

The gift of the Gade engine

One of the gas engines he bought from Hazel was an unknown. “Nobody knew what it was but I sensed it might be rare,” he says. “I took it out of the mud and brought it home in about 1985.” In the era before the Internet, Dave struggled to learn the engine’s identity. It turned out to be a 4 hp Gade engine built in about 1910, one of only nine of the low-base 4 hp Gades known to exist.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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