Heritage Collection of Rare Gasoline Engines
Virginia enthusiast’s collection of unique and rare gas engines built on family roots
Jeff Wahl leans against his family's rare circa 1904 9 HP Flour City gasoline engine at the Butterfield (Minn.) Threshing Show.
Photo By Bill Vossler
Jeff Wahl’s love of old iron was bred into him early. When he was 3 years old, he already owned a gasoline engine, courtesy of his grandpa Harvey Wahl, a 1-3/4 HP Associated Chore Boy that he still owns today.
Jeff’s father, Tom Wahl, had moved the family to Fairfax Station, Va., but the family returned to Grandpa’s Minnesota farm for a week or two each summer, around the time of the Butterfield (Minn.) Threshing Bee. “So I’d get to see my grandparents and the rest of the family that lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area,” Jeff says. “We would all attend the Butterfield show to help Grandpa show his antique farm equipment, camp out and have a family reunion of sorts.
“For me, going out to the farm, as we did every summer, was a completely different world from northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.” Jeff says. “I enjoyed being on the farm, riding Grandpa’s farm machinery, helping to mow the lawn and pick veggies from the garden. And best of all, I got to see all my aunts, uncles and cousins.
“When we were young, we would jump off the hay wagons into the piles of threshed hay and get dirty and filthy,” he laughs. Additionally, he remembers riding in the parade on the back of an Aultman-Taylor 30-60 tractor that Grandpa operated for the elderly owner at the Butterfield Threshing Bee, “getting a ride, sitting on back with my legs hanging off. My parents say I used to spin my arms in a circle like a flywheel going around and made the sounds of an engine, shoo shoo shoo put,” he says. “It was a fun experience.”
Rare gasoline engines
The Wahl family has a series of rare gasoline engines about which little is known:
1904 9 HP Flour City
Harvey Wahl bought this rare item Sept. 14, 1974, at an estate auction in Valley Springs, S.D. “The engine was complete, including the original water tank, but it had been completely taken apart because it was in the process of being restored,” Jeff says.
His grandfather restored it by 1975, and in 1996 the Flour City was featured at the 30th Annual Butterfield show, acknowledging Harvey’s showmanship and involvement since the first show in 1967.
The engine appears to be about a 1904, Jeff says. “We think it’s a 9 HP based on bore and stroke measurements we obtained from original literature.”
Flour City portable farm engines are unique in how they are mounted to their carts. “Most portable engines can be removed from the cart, and you still have the engine intact,” Jeff says. “But with the Flour City, the engine cylinder, main crankshaft bearings, chain-driven water pump, etc., are all bolted directly to the heavy steel channel iron of the engine cart. There’s no engine base mounted to the cart frame and thus the flywheels hang down pretty low.”
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