Granddad's Gas Engine Legacy Endures

Lessons learned as kids keep cousins engaged in stationary engine hobby.

Dan Holicky with his nicely detailed 1914 Victor engine. Along with his brother and cousin, he learned about stationary gas engines from his grandfather. Photo by Bill Vossler

When it comes to antique gas engines, Dan Holicky doesn’t have to look very far to find a kindred spirit. His brother, Dean, and his cousin, Kevin Kriha, are avid engine enthusiasts. And he got his start in the hobby from his grandfather, the late Bob Riebel, a well-known engine collector.

“As kids and into our teens, in the mid-1990s, we were always at my granddad’s,” he says. “He would go around and purchase engines and show them at the nearby Le Sueur (Minnesota) County Pioneer Power Assn. for years.”

Dan, a trucker from Le Center, Minnesota, stayed involved in the hobby as he grew older. “Kevin and I have a lot of my granddad’s original engines, like Fairbanks-Morse and John Deere. About 10 years ago, I started collecting some of my own stuff. It was all because of my grandpa.”

Dan’s 1914 20hp International Harvester Victor engine. Photo by Nikki Rajala

Learning from an old hand

In those early years, starting when Dan was about 12, the cousins began restoring Maytag engines in their grandfather’s shop. “He collected anything he could get his hands on, so Dean and I would tear down engines, clean them up and get them running,” he recalls. “Maytags were easy to work on, and were a fun engine when I was a kid. I worked there every day of summer break, nonstop, with the Maytags. But when I graduated, I took a few years off and started life in general. Later, I got back into the hobby.”


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