Monday, May 19, 2014

Old Iron Adventures: Falk and Bessemer

I've been collecting things for a long time.  A friend and I snagged these two Falk engines near Marshalltown, Iowa in the late 1960's.  I kept the 5 HP in the foreground; my friend restored the 10 Horse model by the clothesline.

I soon had the 5 Horse Falk running and showed it at Mt. Pleasant before college took over my life.  Mom and Dad brought it down to the farm in Southern Illinois in the late 1970's, and it has been collecting dust in a barn ever since.

I spotted this 8 HP Bessemer engine from the road while going to a timber marking job at Martha, KY in 1976.  Susan and I went there and bought it from the owner after work one evening.  It cost me $50 and a good pocket knife.  We unbolted the cylinder; I picked up one side and then the other while Susan put bricks under it.  We were able to shove it into the back of our American Motors Rebel station wagon, and took it back to Prestonsburg.  It followed us to the farm when we left Kentucky in 1980.

Some big farm equipment smashed our mailbox in 1992 and we had to put up a new one.  The old Bessemer was a sad case with more repairs than we could afford, so we painted it up and bolted the new mailbox to it.  It looked great when Susan's parents posed next to it.  It made a great landmark, and we only felt a small amount of guilt for giving up on making it run again.  One day Gary Bahre drove by, and almost wrecked when he saw the old engine.  He pulled in and introduced himself.  Gary is a dedicated engine restorer and collector, and we became good friends.  Several years after we met we sold a trailer load of old iron to Gary, and you have seen the Collis, Novo, and IHC Titan he restored on this blog.

Gary made us an offer we couldn't refuse while we visited at his Crank-Up last March.  He offered to put the Falk back together and do a "Barn-Fresh" restoration, just so he could see it run.  That is one heck of an offer, but I felt we would be taking advantage of him.  I told him we would give him the  8 HP Bessemer to keep if he would do that.   Papers were drawn up and signed, and Gary went home with a load of rare iron.

A visit to to a carwash, fresh oil and gas, put on the flywheels, and less than 24 hours later the old girl performed for Gary! (Video by Gary Bahre)

Gary will be showing the Falk 5 HP at Paducah, KY and Pinckneyville, IL this year.  Our agreement lets him take it to shows as if it is his own engine, so the Falk will be getting some exposure. 

Gary is doing the finishing touches right now.  He is replacing plungers and pins that have excessive wear so the engine won't hiccup on him when he is showing it. 

And now our mailbox looks like anybody else. We still have a few engines stuck away, out of sight, for my retirement years.


Anonymous said...

Now that's a lot of old iron!


David aka True Blue Sam said...

It's sad seeing them leave the farm, but it's great seeing them run. I haven't run the Falk since 1969. I was never going to make the Bessemer run, and I think Gary will have it going by next summer.