Shine Like a Jewel

| May 2003

Just call Marvin Hedberg 'The fine jeweler of model farm engines.' That's because the Rush City, Minn., craftsman constructs model farm engines with great precision.

'Some people have compared me to a jeweler,' the 59-year-old says, 'because some of the work I do is so small and so fine. I use the lost wax process, which allows me - like jewelers - to create very fine detail. I can put small lettering and details in a mold, and it will show up just as clear as can be.'

Farm engines first intrigued Marv as a child living on a farm near Moose Lake, Minn. 'One neighbor had a 6-horse International Harvester M engine on a saw rig to cut wood for the stove,' he says. 'On a real cold winter day, you could hear it sawing wood a mile away.'

His foray into the vintage engine hobby started with his family's involvement in agriculture. 'I grew up in the 1950s on a farm that had a threshing circle of 7 to 8 families who went from farm to farm following the threshing machines,' he says. Twenty years after his threshing days were over, Marv attended a threshing show and became reacquainted with old engines and iron. As fate would have it, he bought the very same 6-hp Model M engine at an estate sale he'd heard cutting wood during his youth. As much as he liked that old engine, Marv realized his true passion for miniatures when he first saw model engines at shows. 'I figured they'd be a lot easier to carry around and handle,' Marv says. As a trained toolmaker with his own machining equipment, he was confident he could put his skills to work crafting model engines.

Big engines, small engines

Marv's first model engine was an English Wyvern model constructed from a kit. 'I wanted to build an engine based on how the English made them -a sideshaft, throttle-governed engine where the sideshaft operates both the intake and exhaust valves,' he says.

The Wyvern kit maker asked Marv how many engines he'd built. 'I told him none, and he said I'd better start on something simpler,' he says. The kit maker wasn't aware of Marv's machining experience, and he definitely proved him wrong. After he completed the kit, Marv got creative and added his own touch. 'That engine didn't come with a governor,' he says. 'But I made a flyball governor for it that works just fine.'