Love of history entices engine owner to Lehigh

Staff writer

Gary Worden of Haviland wanted nothing more than to tell everyone all he knew about small engines.

So, he dug out his 1916 Lauson Frost King air-cooled engine and brought it to the Lehigh Small Engine and Antique Tractor Show on Monday. Worden has shown off his “little engines” at the show for the last four years. He said it’s never boring, especially when people come to the show with questions in hand.

“You never know what’s going to come up,” he said. “But I try to answer all the questions that I can.”

The thing, he said, that usually baffled people was how the machine actually worked. They usually stand there stunned for a moment, and then begin asking him how the machine operates. While it is powered by gasoline, Wooden said the secret is in the ball bearings, which weight certain gears and, in turn, allows the engine to work.

Worden said he loves to show off his engines so he can watch people’s reactions.

“Little kids like to look at all the moving parts,” he said, explaining that he had one child look at the machine for more than an hour. “They’re completely fascinated.”

While he claims to be no mechanic and perhaps not the best person to talk with about the engines, Worden said he loves talking to people about the engines, explaining that it gives him nostalgia for days gone by.

“In the early 1900s, they would use them on a pulley system and connect it to whatever they wanted,” he said. “It was a good system. I haven’t hooked this one up to anything, but I could if I wanted to.”

Worden bought the machine in prime condition from a dealer a few years ago. The only thing he said he did to the machine was clean up the gas tank.

“It had black soot all over it, and I wanted it to look as nice as the rest of the engine,” he said.

It didn’t take too long, but Worden said it took a lot of elbow grease and a few toothbrushes to get the job done.

Worden said he doesn’t know how long he’ll continue to show his machine at area shows, but said one thing is for sure: he’ll do it as long as he can.

“The people really make coming here worth it,” he said. “They ask a lot of questions, and when it is all over, you know that you’ve given them a chance to learn more history.”

 

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