Past and Present:

| November/December 2002

Traction Engines and Threshing Machines


Geoffrey Stein, senior historian at the New York State Museum in Albany, N.Y., recently contacted me concerning Cindy and Ross Bendixen's article on their 6 HP 1890 Birdsall portable (IMA, January/February 2002). In that article it was suggested Birdsall, in addition to its operations in Auburn, N.Y., may have operated at one time in Newark, N.Y., and information sent by Geoffrey bears this out.

The circa1918 18 HP Birdsall , serial number 3455,beingloaded for transport to the New York state Museum in Albany in 1968.

Geoffrey says a Birdsall traction engine in the museum's collection has a smoke box door marked, 'Birdsall Engine Co. Newark, N.Y.' Additionally, Geoffrey says the engine in their collection, an 18 HP bearing engine number 3455, dates to around 1918. This last item is very interesting, as there had been indications Birdsall closed shop in 1893, but clearly that wasn't the case. Our best guess is Birdsall only closed its Auburn facility in 1893, moving all production to Newark and obviously staying in business for some years thereafter. If anyone knows exactly when the company finally closed its doors, we'd love to hear from them.

The circa 1918 18 HP Birdsall in the collection of the New York State Museum in Albany, N.Y. This photo is believed to have been taken by the Birdsall's last owner, Stephen Davis, some time around 1967. Photo courtesy of the New York State Museum, Albany, N.Y.

Geoffrey also sent photos of the Birdsall in the New York State Museum's collection. The first (Birdsall Photo #1) shows the Birdsall being loaded for transport to the museum in 1968 and the second (Birdsall Photo #2) is believed to have been taken some time around 1967, possibly by Stephen Davis, who sold the Birdsall to the museum.