What treasures lurketh within?


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As we reach the mid point of the second decade of the twenty-first century, genuine barn-finds of vintage machinery are becoming increasingly scarce, if not impossible to discover. Back in the 1970s and early 80s when I was collecting stationary engines and associated machinery it was still possible to find items long-forgotten and out of use for decades and hidden in the back of a barn, but even then many of the more exciting finds had already been discovered.

My friend had had a tip-off, there was a large twin-flywheel engine with a water hopper in a barn on a remote farm on the Black Mountain and it could be available at the right price. The tipster had no idea what it was but the description of twin flywheels ruled out the ubiquitous Lister Type D or a Wolseley WD, neither of which were particularly desirable to us as they could be purchased easily in those days, usually for around a fiver. We took a gamble and hitched the trailer onto my friend’s car and on a very grey day went off in our quest to hopefully find a desirable gem.

The owner was quite receptive, he was very young and I guess had not long taken over or inherited the farm. He showed us the engine and we tried not to show our disappointment as it was a Lister B type, quite a common machine in the world of vintage stationary engines. Nevertheless my friend decided to negotiate and ended up purchasing it and after a struggle we loaded it onto the trailer and brought it to my home where it stayed for a while until my friend could make room for it at his place. Actually, I think that was an excuse as he had his young son with him and I don’t think he wanted word to get round at home that Dad had bought yet another engine, by pretending it was mine and hiding it in my garage it could be smuggled to his house under the cloak of darkness a couple of weeks later.

The top photo shows the barn from which we extricated the engine, my friend’s trailer is of interest, this was before the days when trailers were regulated and this one had certainly seen better days. I’m also sure that is my friend’s son in the photo standing by the trailer. I have tried to find the location of this barn but so far have drawn a blank, it was thirty five years ago, April 1980 to be more precise. I don’t think the engine stayed with my friend for very long, but have no idea to whom it was sold or where it went.

Clicking on the images will open pages on my flickr site where you will be able to view them full sized.


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