Smokstak Bulletin Board

The Future of Our Hobby

Ten years ago when I first brought antique engines to the internet, I had a thought that this might be a way to introduce engine collecting to our younger generation. I worked for 23 years at a college, doing technical support in radio, television and computers. This placed me in and around the younger generation while I aged out of it and retired. These stories remind me of when I “fixed” the family lawn mower and put the rod end cap on backwards, thus beginning my mechanical avocation. -- Harry

The following bulletin board thread was started by Craig and introduces some of those that are in the newer generation who will carry on in our hobby…

I like to check profiles and see what interest visitors and members have, especially when checking out the chat room. More often than not, there is no other information other than their location. But I digress... This has probably been done before but I'm asking how many "youngsters", The Hobby's Future, frequent this site? I just found one 15 year old here tonight, and of course Chase and Tanner, and I know there are more. I'm asking how many of you are age 25 or under? – Craig

I'm 19. I was brought up with this stuff. Dad always had M&M tractors and for a couple years had a Jaeger, a Fairbanks with a radiator, and a few others. -- ssimntih

I am 19, mostly into Oilfield Stuff, got started at around 11 or so. I am pretty close to Chase, but he is a Buckeye and I a Mountaineer. – Zach

I’m 25 and live in Northern NC. I've always loved these engines since I first saw them, but I've had to purchase and do all the work on them myself since becoming independent. Bills and car payments make it hard to get more old iron. I don't see how most of the young guys can afford to buy all these engines. I can barely even find them around here, or when I do, nobody wants to sell. I have a Taylor 2hp and a Maytag. I'm looking to trade the Taylor to a guy down the road for a 1 3/4 economy because it's in much nicer shape. -- Jeb

I'm 20 years old. I have been interested in this stuff since my parents took me to the Canfield fair when I was about 3. I got my first "toy" when I was about 5, a Deming piston pump that my Dad found in the trash. My garage is now full of old machinery, although its all small engine powered aside from my Ideal mower. Most of it I've got for free too: things that people were throwing out. I finally started showing last spring. -- Mike

Well Craig, I just turned 26 last Wednesday, so I guess I don't count in your poll. I visit this wonderful site at least a few times each day, can't stay away! -- Jeff

I’m here. -- Mac

I am 23 and I bought my first engine back in 1989. It was a 1 1/2 IHC M, missing all the parts and rusty. I still have it but I never got it running. I learned a lot though. -- Jon

I don’t think that there is a lack of kids in the hobby. I think the prices are going to have to start coming down to see more of them become active. I know when I got my first engine at 17, I used my Christmas money, birthday money, and grass cutting/odd job money to buy it. I was working at the time but since then I’m getting paid a little better and if I save enough over the year I can get another engine or two. I’m 20 now and have a few engines but I’m able to buy less because of the prices of everything going up. I’ve also been trying to get some of my friends interested in the hobby, but most of them aren’t the best with tools. Or they don’t want to be bothered. I’m sure as time goes on there will be more of the younger generation getting interested and we just have to be there to guide them in the ways of the "ENGINE GUY"! -- Frank

Gee Craig, I reckon I'm an "old geezer" at 28. -- Mike

I am 21 and I grew up with rust. My grandfather and father have restored several steam tractors and brass era cars and also some other older tractors. I have an interest in all older machinery but love old engines. – North Mike

I am 60 years old, got my first engine three months ago and got the second one two months ago. I have a line on three more but haven't seem them yet don't even know what they are. You’re never to old to start. – Dave

I know I am not in the 25 or under - I am only 31, but I am still a "younger" collector. I am also part of this hobbies future, and have done several things to carry on to the next generation. I ran steam traction engines for 9 years, ran a saw mill with them, worked on a threshing crew at some shows, run a wire tie Ann Arbor Hay Press (bailer), ran old farm tractors, from Oil Pulls to 350 IH, not including the equipment I used on a farm I worked on for several years. I also collect and run hit-n-miss engines and small air-cooled engines also. The prices are more than most young people can afford, but I know that this hobby will live on. With the knowledge you bring to this hobby, a lot more people will learn. I would like to meet you someday and visit your place. With all that you have shown on the site, you are very talented! You do a great service to this board. Not everyone can see the tractors that you restore, but with your pictures and posts, we all can see them. -- Mike

I am 22 years old. Although my parents support the hobby and my father is a mechanical engineer, I am basically into all this stuff on my own. I am up to about 10 antique flywheel engines, five garden tractors, three snowmobiles, and other assorted "stuff." I will not lose interest any time too soon. It would take me years to liquidate all my stuff that is stashed all over. I have gotten a lot of criticism, because I don't have my own car but that is one way to afford these toys. -- CJ

I must first state that I am new here and this is my first post. I am 36 and have attended about 8 to 10 shows a year for the past 31 years. It's not hard to notice that people in the 15 to 25 age group are non-existent at most shows. Even at 36 I feel like I am still one of the younger people who frequent shows in our area that doesn't come in the front gate. I also enjoy model engineering and the same void exists there as well. I have three children and they too have little interest in this hobby. -- Forrest

I am 34, so I guess I fall in the age 26 - 35 group. I’ve had engines my entire life and I still have my first one! I like steam engines better though, but I still collect and play with gas engines. -- Jeff

I'm 31 and I’ve been in the hobby as long as I can remember and don't see myself slowing down any. I think there are a lot of younger guys getting into the hobby because I sold several people engines over the last couple years that were getting their first ones and a lot of these guys are in the under 30 age group. So I would say the hobby is pretty safe as long as we all keep passing down the knowledge over the generations. -- Tom

Well, I'm 27. I got my 1st engine at 16 years old and I have been collecting ever since. I've lost count of the engines I have. There is one other younger fellow that is in our club but, it seems he's more into tractors than gas engines. And I'm still trying to pull him away from the "dark side" and get him into the engines more. I'll keep hunting for engines till I find my 1st barn fresh Otto! -- Doug

I am 40 and have been around engines all my life. My dad started collecting engines when I was born and he has been a collector of something his whole life. I rebelled from old engines for about two years around age 17 but I grew to love them more than ever and started buying again at age 19. Now every time we see something new or buy another engine I feel like a kid in a toy store. -- Keven

I’m 44 and way too old for your poll but my 15 year old son is really getting into engines. He says, “Dad as much as I hate to admit it they’re really interesting.” I can’t wait ‘till I can find him an engine of his own this year. His grandfather has a 3 HP IHC M that he wanting to get running, but grandpa is not interested in it as it has been in the barn for 10 years and he won’t get it out so my son can try to get it running again. If my son ever looses interest in engines, Ill try to find a younger man or boy who really loves them but can’t afford one and give mine to them. I know there are many younger guys who will never own an engine because they are too high priced. -- Alan

I’m 18 and I got my first engine in 2001. I’ve been collecting since, but before that dad and I had a lot of Allis Chalmers equipment and now we have even more. -- Kyle

I'm 23 and I have been around engines and tractors all my life. My father has been taking my brother and me to steam and gas shows since I was five. I have 2-1/2 hp Economy, 1-1/2 Fairbanks ice block, 2hp dishpan Fairbanks, model 92 Maytag, and some model engines that I have built. I have started to take my 2 year old son to shows now. I want to interest him at a young age before the fast paced computer based world poisons his mind so much that he can't appreciate the past. Don't get me wrong, I love using computers and it's part of my job. I just think sometimes that too many kids don't get the appreciation for the mechanical marvels engines really are. – Iron Dad

I'm 23, almost 24. Been collecting since 1986, when my dad literally helped me drag a 7hp Saxon home. I have several tractors and 50+ engines now. I see a few collectors my age or younger around but not too many. -- Nick

I'm 36 and just starting to feel like I'm not a kid when I go to the shows or to meetings now. Yes, there are some folks my age in my club and the club’s Thresheree has had pretty good success in getting younger people involved. We have lifetime members who are still in diapers. The expense part is pretty serious for younger folks. Yes, you can buy some cheaper stuff out there, but you pay for it in restoration. -- Guy

I'm 19, but I'm not able to work with old equipment as much as I'd like, because I'm at school. Right now, I'm working on an Oliver 60, but I do like to play with my Grandpa's old engines from time to time. – Jake

I am 21. In a few months I will be going to school for two years for machining, then I am going to get my welders certification. I have been welding, playing with old engines, farming and hanging around machine shops since I was about 8. -- Tanner

I had NO idea that there were this many "youngsters" (and newcomers to the hobby) here! I hope this is an eye opener for everyone everywhere! The hobby will live on and for a very long time. It is my feeling that a lack a young people in a club or show can mostly be attributed to the club itself. Most do not ask for young people to get involved because they might want to change something. Or, the existing members are so darn stubborn that they won't share what they know (much less what they have) with anyone out of the "clique". Don't offer to help anyone, it might wind up costing you a few bucks, hours, or whatever. Do not share what you know with anyone, be a selfish pig and die with it instead. And for God's sake don't let your kid TOUCH that new PAINT JOB! A fingerprint will surely render the machine worthless! (I have actually seen this and it made me so sad.) -- Craig

Guess this is kind of off topic, but as to your last comment about people not willing to share info or where to look for an engine, you sure are right! At the first engine show I went to as a member (not showing any thing) I asked a few of the guys there if there were any engines they knew of for sale, any unfinished project, any places to look and I got in response, “Yeah I know of a few. I am planning on getting for myself. You don't expect me to tell you where any of them are?” I say yes, they say no. Heck, they would not help locate parts for my Jaeger or tell me where to look or anything. Oh well, sooner or later I'll have another engine. -- Mac

If Mike thinks he is an "old geezer" at 28, what does that make me? I just turned 70, and brought a new toy (8HP Field-Brundage) home today. – Al

I'm 18 and got my first engine when I was about 10. Have been collecting them ever since. -- Justin

I am 17 going on 18 and not looking forward to it. I got started in this hobby at 6 years old back in 1994 I think it was. At first it was tearing down engines for my dad and the next thing you know, I was not only tearing them down but cleaning them and rebuilding them! Dad didn’t believe this one time, when he was working on a scooter for a customer, next day he went to work as usual, and I thought, well, now’s a chance to tool around and get up to dads stuff when he's gone to work. So I did, but I didn’t quite know what I was doing, but I did it. What ever it was I did, grabbed the key and it fired up! I was amazed! My current antique is my 1933 model Y Briggs & Stratton that I’m restoring. -- Sky

Thanks for starting this post. I thought that I was one of the younger members, but I guess I have been collecting long enough that I still think I am young. I am 30, have a decent job and I am able to afford some engines to play with. Now to find that big shed to store and get them mechanically restored in. I think that it is great that so many younger people are interested. I see the same problem in other clubs where the younger people are shut out, but the leadership still wants the draw to the club. As more and more of the younger people take an active roll, I hope this will change. I know that in my main club, many of the members don't use the internet or don't understand it. I guess I am fortunate that I live in the Midwest and have access to many great shows and auctions. – Steve

I am 20. My biggest problem is money and trying to keep up with college, which I really do hate. I try and spend time with my girlfriend and I have been working all of my other time. I have a Novo, a Fairbanks Z and a lot of Air cooled motors. I'd love to get more (like that half breed that the owners are willing to give to me), but I don't have the time anymore and I certainly don't have the money. Also I don't think my Ranger will pull that half breed around. Us younger people are out here, but we also have less time to devote to old motors. -- Serf

I am 23 years old. I am a college student double majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Construction Management at Colorado State. I am really collecting only information right now. Looking at pictures and just trying to learn something new everyday until I graduate and start my career so that I can start collecting actual engines. As you well know this isn’t the cheapest hobby on the planet and being a college student = being broke. But my day is coming! -- Ben

Craig, I think you got your answer. Yes, there are a number of young people coming along. While I'm 75 and didn't start collecting until I was about 55, my youngest son was right there with me and now it's my grandchildren. They are the ones that make this hobby fun when you go to shows or the county fair, etc. Plus they help me move the old iron around. -- Dick

I am quite new to this site, but I have seen up here in Saskatchewan that a lot of young people in the 10 and younger group get a kick out of old engines and tractors. A lot seem to lose interest when they hit their teens, and attentions seem to turn to the other sex, vehicles etc, but I have seen quite a few come back later in their life, when they have some disposable income to start a collection of tractors/engines. That’s how I go into the hobby anyway. -- Will

I am 45 years old, but I have 7 kids and 3 model Case steam traction engines, 2 half scale and one quarter scale. My oldest boy, aged 14 has been running the half scale for about 9 years. Middle son age 12 about 8 years and youngest son age 10 about 6 years. They are all responsible engineers. Sometimes when I get home they have loaded all of the engines and equipment and are ready to go. Most of the time we camp at the show grounds, so they plan the menu and pack the food as well. This part can get real interesting? -- Casemaker

I'll be looking at one of the engines at a show and someone will ask me a question of something pretty obvious. You know, “where's the carb?”, so they can have their little laugh. Well, it's funny as heck to see their response when I tell them where the carb is and then start naming the rest of the parts on their engine and to add to their surprise, I’ll give them a little historical info about the engine company while I'm at it. Then I'll start talking about my engines and tell them how slow my 6hp M runs and about a few of the engines that I’m trying to get a hold of like a 15hp Victor. – Chase

I am 23 years old and I have been working on engines since I was 17 or so, starting with small Air Cooled engines. Recently I have begun collecting Fairbanks Morse engines. I find this hobby to be a very fun and fulfilling one, although there are some problems along the way its all worth it in the end. It seems that everyone has at least one problem engine and to get the engine running is the greatest feeling ever. -- Johnathan

I'm 25 years old from Indiana. My personal collection consists of a 1 3/4hp economy, 2hp Roy C. Whayne (Hercules-built), 1 1/2hp Racine-Sattley, 1 1/2hp Worthington, (2) 3hp Worthingtons, 2hp Reliable sideshaft, 6hp IHC Famous, 12hp Advance steam traction engine, and a 1913 Model T Ford touring car. I'm also on the board of directors for the local club. There is quite a bit more sitting around the house as my dad and grandfather have been collecting engines, tractors, cars, and steam engines since the early 1950's, so I'd like to say that I have 60 years of collecting and restoration experience at my disposal. I visit EnginAds to see what is going on in other parts of the country that I wouldn't normally hear about and to meet new friends young and old alike! -- BB

I added a poll to this thread a bit late in the run, but I think that it might be a representative sample of the readers after 186 votes. The thread accumulated 57 responses and 3,152 views to date.

Age 10 to 19 = 3%

Age 20 to 29 = 8%

Age 30 to 39 = 15%

Age 40 to 49 = 21%

Age 50 to 59 = 22%

Age 60 to 69 = 24%

Age 70 to 79 = 7%

Many more posts and the poll chart... CONTINUED

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