Welcome to The Model Museum and the Engine Collectors' Journal
How Old is Model Engine Collecting?
Modelers are well known “pack-rats” and keep lots of things, from broken wings to worn out engines. One of my favorite phrases I hear from modelers is, “I’m not a collector! I just happen to have 427 old engines laying around.” For some reason the title of “Collector” must mean something derogatory to them. There are a lot more collectors than will admit to it!
So, model engines have been collected (accumulated) for years. A lot were thrown out, but fortunately a good number were left in boxes or chests and forgotten. As these are brought to light again, new fuel is added to the collector’s fire. This much has been going on since there were engines.
The first published article about collecting was in the February, 1946 issue of Model Airplane News. One Captain John J. Hanson wrote an article on his collection of model gas engines. Many were pictured and it had a good story, saying that they were on loan to the Smithsonian for three years. He had 31 engines in his collection and commented that a number of manufacturers had contributed examples of their current production. These included Herkimer, Brown, Scrapper and Phantom Motors. Imagine a manufacturer doing that today. I wonder how many of our early collectors took the idea from that article.
June & July, 1959 issues of Model Airplane News published a two part article called, “I Collect Old Engines” by Wally MacLaren. I’m sure this introduced even more people to the collecting hobby.
The late 1950’s also saw Bruce Underwood begin to organize the small group of collectors he knew about. He formed the Model Engine Collectors Association (MECA). After a short time, Bruce became loaded down with his Yellow Jacket engine business and Joe Wagner volunteered to take over and put out a newsletter for the group. By this time the number of known and admitted collectors had grown to almost 25 fellows.
Joe put out 4 issues of The Model Engine Collector. The third issue contained Joe’s compilation of American Model Engines as he knew of them at the time. This soon became the basis for collectors to build their collection from. Joe put out one more issue before he became overloaded, too.
Most of the collectors continued to correspond (no internet at that time!) by mail and were wondering how to keep the group together.
Since I was a printer, I decided to try putting out a small newsletter myself, just to keep the group connected. It was not intended to actually re-establish the MECA, but just to serve as a way for collectors to keep in touch and share some of their discoveries.
The first issue of the Engine Collectors’ Journal was published and mailed out in August, 1963. It was intended to be bi-monthly, but it didn’t always meet that schedule. The material to print has always been, and still is, the thing that determines publishing dates. So, the total numbers of Engine Collectors’ Journals does not match up with over 50 years we have been at it.
Pictured on this page is myself and my wife Betty who is as knowledgeable about these engines as most collectors. Together, we have put out over 200 issues of the Engine Collectors’ Journal. Also the American Model Engine Encyclopedia Vol II , and most recently the Cox Model Engine Handbook.
Visitors since June, 2007