Starting from the Ground Up with Antique Engines

A Minnesota man launches an engine collection with a Type 92 Maytag, and finds himself knee-deep in antique gas engines 30 years later.

Emil and Emily with Emil’s rare 6hp Emerson-Brantingham Type U gas engine.

When he got interested in antique stationary engines, Emil Knish started at the bottom – a pile of scrap at his dad’s scrapyard. There, he found a mud-covered mass. It turned out to be a Type 92 Maytag gas engine.

The engine had been buried in the mud for 50 years. “I didn’t know what it was,” Emil says. “When I got it out, a neighbor identified it for me.” Then 23, Emil took the engine apart and restored it. “I couldn’t believe it when it ran,” he says. “I’ve been hooked ever since. That first one is special, and I still have it.”

Emil Knish’s 1920 6hp Sandwich engine, one of his daughter Emily’s favorites. Note the “tulip-shaped” water hopper.

Thirty-some years later, the Montgomery, Minnesota, carpenter is knee-deep in antique engines. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You guys are nuts”

Emil’s first engine purchase was a red 3hp Fairbanks-Morse with a coil ignition dating to the 1920s. “Everybody said I was nuts to buy it because it was stuck and it had a hopper full of dirt,” he says. “But I figured nothing was broken, so why not buy it?” Within a week, he got the engine running. “That was pretty cool,” he says.


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