Circa 1913 20 HP Stickney Gas Engine
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In fact, about the only thing he didn't do was the casting work, which included sourcing a new clutch fork, clutch handle, fuel pump and seat. Charlie had the words 'Chas. A. Stickney Co.' included in the seat casting, which was done by Bill Santos in California. It's the only non-stock piece on the Stickney.
A farmer by profession, Charlie's no stranger to working his way through mechanical problems. But the Stickney presented challenges he'd never faced. 'You take a one-cylinder engine, how hard can that be?' Charlie asks rhetorically.
He found out, noting that Stickney used its own design even on the nuts holding the engine together. Intent on an accurate restoration, Charlie made his own tool to copy Stickney's nut design. Charlie notes that none of the engine's hardware is standard, making restoration and fabrication of seemingly simple items time-consuming. 'One thing I learned is that there's nothing that can't be done,' Charlie says of the restoration.
When the Stickney slipped into the river in 1951, it landed on its side, the tongue of its cart pointing up. When they tried to retrieve the engine at the time, all they got was the front axle, wheels and tongue. After a while, even those were sent to the scrap yard.
That left Charlie with a badly rusted cart frame and an incomplete set of trucks. Remarkably, Charlie located an original 20 HP cart, complete with trucks, in Canada. 'They're absolutely perfect, and absolutely the right ones,' Charlie says.
In the summer of 2001, Charlie attended the annual Butterfield (Minnesota) Threshermen's Association Steam and Gas Engine Show. There, he met other Stickney engine collectors who encouraged him in his push to restore the 20 HP Stickney. Charlie went to Butterfield again in 2002 and committed to finishing the engine in time for the 2003 Butterfield show when Stickney would be the featured engine.
In the course of the restoration, Charlie worked almost full-time on the engine in the winter months, backing off only during the growing and harvesting seasons. Although he made remarkable progress, he missed his goal of having it running by December 2002 - but he didn't miss it by much.
Three months later, after what Charlie calls, 'The most difficult, challenging thing I've ever done,' he was ready to start the Stickney. Al Giarratano, a Connecticut-based engine collector Charlie knows only through the Internet, had aptly named the engine 'Sleeping Beauty.' On March 8, 2003, with a shop full of people on hand - including a few of his Minnesota Stickney friends - 'We kissed her and woke her up,' Charlie says.