MYSTERY ENGINE

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Mr. Banks Smith on right and his father on the left, showing their ''Mystery'' Frick Engine. No date is given but Mr. Smith says it was early in the 1900s.

R.D. 1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019

At one of the early steam shows held at the Williams Grove Park,
a man approached me while I was operating a Frick portable engine
and told me that he had run Frick portable engine while he was a
young man.

Now this was a common story, but then he told me it was built
rather unusual with the engine bed or frame in two parts connected
by two heavy rods which served as the cross-head guides as well as
hold the crankcase and cylinder castings together.

Never having heard of such an engine, I naturally became quite
curious because the Frick engines were quite common in my section
and yours truly spent many hours studying Frick catalogs even when
a small boy.

After some conversation, he told me his name was Banks Smith of
McAllisterville, Pennsylvania and that he presently owned a Frick
traction so he was not feeding me a line. Mr. Smith told me the old
portable was scrapped but he saved the two heavy rods and at
present had one which he used as a garage door prop.

He also told me he had a photograph of his Dad and the engine,
but it was the only one he had of his Dad and therefore did not
want to lose it, which was understandable. After we had a nice
visit he gave me good-by and left, but yours truly had a suspicion
that he thought he had failed to convince me that there ever was
such a Frick engine.

During the following months many inquiries were directed at all
the older men I chanced to meet concerning this old portable but
always drew a blank and the engine was more or less forgotten until
the following year when Mr. Smith again showed up at Williams Grove
with his photograph to prove his story. Now here was proof and
yours truly decided to put more effort into finding the history of
this type of engine.

After writing and studying the photo Mr. Smith agreed to loan me
the picture to have it copied which was promptly done with the
original and one copy returned to Mr. Smith.

The picture with this story is a copy and I have shown it to
many men, none of which remember such an engine. In all the
drawings and literature we have concerning the Frick Company, there
is no mention of such an arrangement in even their very early ones
built shortly after the Civil War.

In 1969 while visiting Mr. William Hovetter he told me what may
be the answer but could not be sure. His story went something like
this. When the Frick factory was small it could not keep up with
the demand for Frick engines and in order to take care of their
customers, Frick Company sold some engines of another make with
their threshers.

Now it seems possible that this Mystery Engine’ could have
had a name-plate saying ‘Made for Frick’ or ‘Sold by
Frick’ or even had Frick door castings with their name. Now if
anyone has any information concerning such an engine it surely
would be interesting reading.

Mr. Hovetter started as a young man with the Frick Company in
1910 and this past winter when we had a nice visit he told me of
passing his 90th birthday. Time surely flies as it seems only
yesterday when Mr. Hovetter was selling yours truly machinery from
the Harrisburg Frick Branch Office, although it was in the early
1930′ s.

It seems too, only a short time ago when we saved the Frick
blueprints, patterns, etc. from the scrap pile, but it was over ten
years ago and now one of our group is gone and we have sold
everything to a new owner who we hope will continue with the parts
business as in the days of yore.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment