By Ashley Rader
It was 47 years ago that Geoff Hutchings first worked with an antique engine.
The engine had belonged to his uncle; Hutchings and a friend worked on it until it was running again.
That engine cranked up an interest that’s been running ever since.
“I started collecting them. Others became interested in them and it just grew from there,” said Hutchings, who hosts the East Tennessee Antique Engine Association’s Antique Engine and Tractor Show at his Sciota Road farm in west Carter County. He isn’t just the show’s host – he founded it and serves on the association’s board.
“We started looking for more engines and buying them up,” Hutchings said. “Then we moved on to more expensive ones.
“Now I have around 35 engines.”
The show continues through Saturday and will feature around 250 engines from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The show features gas, steam and diesel engines of all sizes, from one horsepower up to a 120-horsepower Fairbanks diesel engine. Other engines in the show include those used on farms, in industry, for electricity production, to power grist and flour mills … and to make ice cream.
One of those engines is a valuable Otto Silent engine made in 1885.
Hutchings said the engine was used to power a machine shop in England. The Henry Ford Museum purchased the engine and brought it to the United States. Hutchings bought it from the museum in 1985 for $10,000.
He estimates it is now worth around $300,000.
Another of Hutchings’ engines in the show is a 70-horsepower Bessemer engine he calls “Big Bessie.” The engine was made in 1899 and was used in a glass factory in Bradford, Pa., to make soda and beer bottles.
The engine was taken out of use there and was moved to another location to produce air to run oil wells because it also has an air compressor.
Another of the larger engines at the show is the 120-horsepower 1934 Fairbanks diesel engine was used to produce electricity in R.J Reynolds’ home on Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia.
Not all the engines in the show are large, industrial engines. Some of the engines were used for household work or smaller, family businesses; others are even smaller and power model-size replicas of older farm equipment.