Northern Exposure: A Stationary Engine Collection

Stationary engine collector Mark Kinzie of Ayr, Ontario, Canada, shares on his obsession.

| March 2003

Mark Kinzie of Ayr, Ontario, Canada favored drag racing muscle cars in his youth. Thirteen years ago, he switched to collecting stationary engines and says he still feels like one of the youngsters in the crowd.

Mark was only 18 when his father encouraged him to buy his first engine: a 2-hp Hercules engine. He didn't become a serious collector until he attended Russ Reeves' equipment auction in 1989 in Cambridge, Ontario. There, he bought a 6-hp National engine originally sold in Brighton, Ontario. From that point on 'engines got into my blood,' Mark says.

It didn't hurt that Mark's then-girl-friend, Carol, now his wife, liked engines, too. 'When I met her, I was into my car phase,' he recalls. 'We've been married 11 years, but we've known each other for 23 years. She put up with my phases. She drag raced as well, raced go-carts and drove motorcycles, and she'd restored three or four engines before we were ever married.'

As well as the enjoyment of collecting engines, they're a better investment than cars, Mark says. He and Carol share this interest - and their storage barns - with Mark's brother, Ian, and their mutual friend, Rich Mosher of Cambridge. 'We all started about the same time,' Mark explains. Ian specializes in Canadian-made engines. Rich, on the other hand, has a little bit of everything, including a complete set of John Deere and Canadian-made Acadias, from 2 hp to 20 hp in size. Mark and Carol are drawn almost entirely to U.S.- and British-made engines.

Mark is fondest of big engines, while Carol leans toward the diminutive versions. In fact, two of the rarest engines in their collection are small models. One is a 5-hp Christianson, built by Christianson Manufacturing in Milwaukee, Wis., and the other is a 5-hp Crossley, made in England. Both are well-built sideshaft engines with a number of moving parts. The Crossley even sports two sideshafts.

Mark and Carol also own a 1915 20-hp model S Foos they were told came out of a small Nova Scotia sawmill. It has a well-pitted steel rod that operates the wipe spark, weathered from years in the salty air. It's received a good deal of attention since it arrived at the Kinzies' barn. To date, Mark has installed a new fuel tank, splashguard, lubricators and cart.