This month's Vintage Iron subject was photographed at the Kansas and Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show at Winfield, Kan., in August.
The little hot air engine shown here belongs to Darrell Carter, Fair Grove, Mo. He told me he found the engine at a flea market junk shop south of Kansas City, Mo., on a trip home from the city. It was in the bottom of a showcase, along with a small steam engine.
Darrell asked to see both engines, and the storekeeper had to move a lot of stuff to get to them. He also asked for a deal on the pair, but the owner said the prices were firm. Darrell ending up buying the hot air engine, but passed on the steam engine. Later, he said, he regretted that decision: he went back for it a week later.
This hot air engine was manufactured by the Thermos Engine Company of Chicago. It has very nice original paint, and runs very well. Darrell said the original burner was missing, but he made one that works fine.
Hot air engines were used in many different applications. One of the most common uses was for store window displays in large cities. They were also used in the more elaborate erector sets and similar toys. They are fun to watch run, and are a very early, sought-after collectible. FC
The Kansas and Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show is held at the Winfield Cowley County Fairgrounds, sponsored by the K&O Engine Club. For more information, call Ira Underwood, (316) 221-7608.