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Second Look at Two Classics About John Deere and Antique Gas Engines

Author Photo
By Leslie C. Mcmanus | May 21, 2010

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Building a reference library to support your hobby? Give this pair a look. Depending on your interests, either book provides a strong foundation of reference, supporting material and historical background.
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Published in 2001, Beautiful Engines remains a solid resource: Beautiful Engines: Treasures of the Internal Combustion Century by Stan Grayson, 2001, hard cover, 8-1/2 by 11-1/4 inches, 112 pages, color photographs, Devereux Books, $49.95, available through Farm Collector Books.
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An updated version of the 1999 category best seller: The Bigger Book of John Deere: The Complete Model-by-Model Encyclopedia Plus Classic Toys, Brochures, and Collectibles by Don Macmillan, 2010, hard cover, 9 by 12 inches, color photographs, Voyageur Press, $40, available through Farm Collector Books.

Building a reference library to support your hobby? Give this pair a look. Depending on your interests, either book provides a strong foundation of reference, supporting material and historical background – and you could win them! Click here to enter the book giveaway.

From big to bigger

If the green-and-yellow hues of John Deere tractors are the colors you gravitate to, The Bigger Book of John Deere is your go-to book. An updated version of The Big Book of John Deere (published in 1999), The Bigger Book covers every aspect of John Deere equipment from 1892 to models new off the line in 2009.

Authored by Don Macmillan, The Big Book has long been considered the authoritative, comprehensive reference on John Deere tractors. Detours off the main route dip into toys, brochures and related collectibles, all presented in very handsome photographs by renowned photographers Andrew Morland and Randy Leffingwell.

The Bigger Book is essentially a reprint of The Big Book, with the addition of one new chapter focusing on tractors produced from 2000 to 2009. Packed with photos showcasing immaculately restored tractors, rarely seen literature and photos from the Deere & Co. archives, and handsome photos of toys and models, The Bigger Book is a solid resource for the John Deere enthusiast – especially if you’re just getting into the hobby or starting to build your reference library.

The Bigger Book of John Deere: The Complete Model-by-Model Encyclopedia Plus Classic Toys, Brochures, and Collectiblesby Don Macmillan, 2010, hard cover, 9 by 12 inches, color photographs, Voyageur Press, $40, available through Farm Collector Books.

Birth of the engine era

Beautiful Engines: Treasures of the Internal Combustion Century is another farm collectibles classic. While books on tractors make up a broad category, stationary gas engines only rarely star in print. Stan Grayson’s book more than makes up for the oversight, examining hot tube ignition, flame ignition, hit-and-miss, make-and-break, diesel and jump spark engines.

Beautiful Engines delves into the history of the internal combustion engine here and abroad from 1861 to 1928. Grayson digs in deep to present insights into particularly noteworthy engines and sketch an overview of a remarkable era in the evolution of technology.

Beautiful Engines is often described as a coffee table book. But it goes well beyond that. Enhanced with stunning photography, vintage promotional material and illustrations accompanied by descriptive labels, Grayson’s book makes clear the impact of the internal combustion engine in industry, agriculture and marine applications. The engines and their role in the industrial revolution pop to life.

The genius inventors and budding industrialists behind the engines also get their due. Beautiful Engines‘ scope is tightly focused but Grayson is careful to tell the stories of the men behind the machines, and does so with fascinating perspective and detail.

Grayson’s book is not a deliberate march through every gas engine ever manufactured. He includes familiar names (International Harvester, Witte and Fairbanks-Morse) as well as lesser-known lines (Sombart, Sintz and Regan). If you’re looking for an encyclopedic overview of stationary gas engines, stick with C.H. Wendel’s two-volume set. But if you’re interested in a book that looks at a varied selection of internal combustion engines in the context of a remarkable era, and does so in a very attractive manner, Beautiful Engines should be on your shelf.

Beautiful Engines: Treasures of the Internal Combustion Centuryby Stan Grayson, 2001, hard cover, 8-1/2 by 11-1/4 inches, 112 pages, color photographs, Devereux Books, $49.95, available through Farm Collector Books.FC

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