A Wisconsin man builds his collection around the legendary Stover engine line.
“After I met Kathy and found out that her dad had an antique tractor show, I helped out with it,” Ed says. “‘This is kind of fun,’ I thought, so I bought a 3 hp Stover KF gasoline engine that the owner started for me and that’s how my collection was started. That was 25 years ago, and we’re still together today: Kathy, me and the engine.”
In truth, Ed had taken an interest in some old farm equipment earlier. A threshing machine and corn silage cutter caught his eye, and he had been looking at some tractors. “Nothing really old, just rubber-tired stuff,” he says, “but I never bought anything.”
The Stover was a bigger step, not only because Kathy had entered his life, but also because it was the beginning of what would grow to be a collection of more than 50 Stover engines. The collection today includes representatives of all the different Stover engines, and a few duplicate engines, as well.
Ed also has a variety of Stover memorabilia, such as stove dampers, ice crackers, mop heads, candlestick holders, lamps, a saw sharpener vise, window pulleys, a Christmas tree stand, screen door hinges and even an orange juice squeezer. The collection also includes about 20 Stover grinders.
But Stover gas engines remain the heart and soul of the collection. “After buying that first one and doing some research, I became aware of all the various styles that Stover made,” Ed says.
Indeed, Stover was a giant in the industry. The company built some 277,558 engines, coming in a close third to Fairbanks, Morse & Co., and International Harvester Co., according to C.H. Wendel in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872. Stover produced a huge variety of types and styles, including the A, AC, B, C, CT1-CT4, DV1 and DV2, DSL, K, KA-KD, LB, LF, LG, LS, MV-2, MV5, R, S, T, V, W, YA, YB, YC, Junior, diesels and doubtless others.
When Ed takes his gas engines to shows, he likes to have at least a couple of them operating an implement. “I’d rather see an engine doing something than have it sit there idling and running by itself,” he says.
True to his word, he regularly displays a 1922 2 hp Style KA Stover engine (serial no. KA156905) at shows, and belts it to a Stover No. 0 New Ideal duplex grinder. “It’s a common engine,” he says, “except it has a spoke flywheel, which is rare for that engine. It’s a hit-and-miss engine with an EK magneto.”
The engine didn’t take a lot of work, but the sale was contingent on Ed buying a different grinder than the No. 0 New Ideal. “The shaker on the New Ideal grinder shakes corn down into it,” he says. “I’ve seen people sit and watch it grind corn for a long time. I call it ‘monkey motion.’”
The grinder is also rare, he adds. He’s heard of a third one like it, and one larger, but nothing other than that. “I’ve kicked myself since for not buying that second one the guy had. I’ve only seen one other one, but another guy told me there were three all together. You never know. If you post something on the internet, others might turn up.”
Show goers of all ages appreciate the display. “I’ve been thanked more times than I can count for having engines doing something rather than just sitting and running,” Ed says. “And if I get into an area with more city people, I enjoy that even more, because you get to see parents explaining to kids how the engine and equipment works. They typically also ask questions about how it all works, and what it was used for.”
He normally grinds corn at shows. “But you could grind small grain and everything else in there,” he says. “All you have to do is change the burrs.”
When the grinder was manufactured, it was sold with three sets of burrs, but they were long gone by the time Ed bought the engine. Changing the burrs, he says, might be quite difficult with this model, because of the way it is built.
During a trip to Freeport, Illinois, Ed bought a 1918 1-1/2 hp Stover Model K with an A.Y. McDonald water pump. “I just cleaned the engine, took it apart, put rings in it, and loosened it up,” he says. “I started it and it ran. I guess I got lucky with it; I got it running right away.”
The water pump, though, wasn’t so easy. “It was in really tough shape when I got it,” Ed says. “Pretty much everything was torn apart. A friend, Don Selle, rebuilt it for me. He made parts as needed, including a brass water valve, and all the crown-headed bolts as well as a new shaft.”
The base the engine sits on had been broken off, so that had to be welded back together. It was bolted to a heavy steel plate to prevent a repeat of the problem. The engine’s cart is homemade, but Ed admits he isn’t too concerned by non-original carts, especially since Stover did not make carts for their engines. “They used jobber carts,” he says.
Ed believes the engine and pump have been together ever since the engine was new, based on information on Joe Mauer’s “Stover Engines Resource Page” on the Gas Engine Magazine website (www.gasenginemagazine.com). According to that source, the engine was shipped to the water pump company, and they were joined together there. “It’s gear-driven to the water pump off the crank shaft on the engine,” Ed says.
This engine-implement combination brings in a lot of people too, Ed says. “They like the motion,” he says. “They’ll sit back for a long time and watch the gears operating.” In his display, Ed uses a pail of water for circulation. “I’ve had some creative ideas on how to use it,” he says, “but I haven’t gotten to them.”
He’s toyed with the idea of hiding the water source, but he’s yet to put that plan in place. “That water pump set-up is one of my favorite engines,” he says. “I really enjoy that.”
In keeping with Ed’s desire to include all of the Stover varieties in his collection, his set includes a 1915 1 hp Stover Junior Model V engine. The engine was sent directly to Lindsay Bros. from the factory, as it has a tag that reads, “Distributed by Lindsay Bros., Milwaukee, Wis. (and) Minneapolis, Minn.” Ed says Lindsay Bros. sold a wide variety of farm equipment in addition to engines.
“The Stover Junior was one of their biggest series, but very few of them have tags that say ‘Junior’ on them,” he says. “Only those engines built during the first two years or so had that tag. I do have a couple of them in my collection, a 2-1/2 hp and a 4 hp, and both have a Junior tag.”
He especially likes the Junior series because of the big lip on top of the engine’s hopper. “And I think their design is kind of neat, so I’ve stuck to collecting them,” he says. “I have pretty much the whole Junior series all the way up to the 14 hp. I’m only missing the 10 hp. I had a chance to buy one once, but we just couldn’t agree on a price. Looking back, I wish I’d have bought it so I’d have the whole set now.”
A 1915 6 hp Stover Model X Junior has been a good addition to the collection, he says. “It runs nice and slow, and people enjoy watching it,” he says. “I don’t run anything on it, but I do enjoy seeing it work.”
Unusual pieces in Ed’s Stover collection include a rare 1904 3 hp vertical Stover and a 1919 30 hp Stover oil engine that is extremely rare. “I’m still learning about the oil engine,” he says. “It’s either one of 25 or one of 47. I’ve not figured that out yet. It’s a 2-stroke diesel that can run on crude oil, too. It came from the collection of a man from northern Minnesota who passed away quite a few years ago, and his daughter is slowly selling off his engines. It still needs some work before I can get it to a show. I’ll need the help of a friend who knows more about diesels than I do.”
Kathy continues to share his interest in old iron, and lends a hand when it’s time to load and set up engines. “She goes to the shows with me, and she’s a lot of help,” Ed says. “She enjoys the shows a lot, too.” One on their 2018 calendar is the Albany (Minnesota) Pioneer Power Days Machinery & Threshing Show. Ed says other collectors have asked if he is going to bring his entire line-up of Stover Juniors to the September 2018 show when the Stover line will be featured, and he’s planning to do so.
Ed displays his collection at five or six shows in Wisconsin and Minnesota every year. But his collection is powered by something simpler than a show display. “I like seeing the engines run, and the monkey motion of them,” he says. “The most fun is working with them, and finally getting the engine to fire and take off running. That’s kind of exciting.” FC
Ed Hanson, 168 55th St., Clear Lake, WI 54005; email@example.com; (715) 417-1945.
Albany (Minnesota) Pioneer Power Days Machinery & Threshing Show, Sept. 14-16, 2018.
Bill Vossler is a freelance writer and author of several books on antique farm tractors and toys. Contact him at Box 372, 400 Caroline Ln., Rockville, MN 56369; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.