Virtue and Pound is One-of-a-Kind

Collector buys a mystery engine that turns out to be a one-of-a-kind Virtue and Pound

| March 2000

  • Gene DeCamp had no idea what this engine was when he bought it
    Gene DeCamp had no idea what this engine was when he bought it. A chance conversation, though, identified it as a Virtue and Pound from Minnesota. "I got it because it was unique," he said. "An upside-down hot tube ... it's just a challenge. I kind of like those banged-up engines." His best guess is that it was built in 1898-99.
  • A shot of the Virtue and Pound's cylinder.
    A shot of the Virtue and Pound's cylinder.
  • A close-up of the exhaust cage, showing the engine's rusty, pitted condition when Gene got hold of it
    A close-up of the exhaust cage, showing the engine's rusty, pitted condition when Gene got hold of it.
  • The Virtue and Pound before restoration
    The Virtue and Pound before restoration. Gene estimates it to be a 2 hp model. It was probably originally used to run a bellows organ at a theater, or a printing press, or possibly a small cornsheller or burr mill. Note the web-spoked counter-weight on the flywheel.
  • A close-up of the crank case and cam gear.
    A close-up of the crank case and cam gear.

  • Gene DeCamp had no idea what this engine was when he bought it
  • A shot of the Virtue and Pound's cylinder.
  • A close-up of the exhaust cage, showing the engine's rusty, pitted condition when Gene got hold of it
  • The Virtue and Pound before restoration
  • A close-up of the crank case and cam gear.

Gene DeCamp was stumped. 

He'd bought a unique engine from a friend. The seller – Harold Ottoway, Wichita, Kan. – didn't know anything about the engine, and the man he'd bought it from years earlier hadn't had any information either. All Gene knew was what he could see: The engine was complete except for the mixer and a lever that operated the mixer from the governor weight; it was stuck; and the engine had been converted from a hot tube ignition to spark plug.

He even ran photographs and a plea for help in Gas Engine Magazine, but to no avail. One day, a friend – also an engine collector – was looking over Gene's iron pile.

"Gene," said George Carbonneau of Bottineau, N.D., "I have an engine just like that one."



"You what?"

George was sure that Gene's engine was, like his, a Virtue and Pound, made in Owatonna, Minn. To make sure, though, he came up with photos of his engine. The photos confirmed George's identification, but they also pointed up some differences.