Posted 8 months ago
Essex Hot Air Engine
Designed by: H. Essex Mfg. by: The W.H. Smith Co.
My 1902 Essex Hot Air Engine
And How I Acquired It
A friend of mine owned this engine. He discovered it while working in Brooklyn, NY. He acquires architectural items from old Brownstone buildings that are so prevalent there. He makes a living marketing these architectural building ornaments around the world. One day, upon removing some items, he saw this hot air engine in the corner of the attic and asked the owner if it was for sale. The owner of the building said he often wondered what ever happened to the engine and that he hadn’t seen it since he was a child. His Grand Father had a toy store on the first floor of the building and used this Essex type 1 engine to operate a Ferris wheel display in the window front.
He sold the engine to my friend, and after a few years, my friend lost interest in it and set it on the window sill of the barn where it stayed until I came upon it. Immediately after him showing it to me, it struck me that I had to have it. I asked if it might be for sale and he told me it could be if the price was right.
I didn’t have the funds at the time, and a year later when I did, the price had risen to an amount that set me back in the same position that I was in the year before. This went on for some time and I began to think that I might never become the owner of this unique little piece of history.
I am an Auctioneer by trade and I had a public sale for this friend. Things went well for his sale, and at the settlement, he said he wanted to do something appreciative for me. He asked if I was still interested in the Essex. I told him yes, and he said he would sell it to me for the original price that he set for the engine. I jumped at the opportunity and this is how I became the proud owner of my Essex Hot Air Engine.
The Story Continues…… I was displaying it at a model show when a fellow collector said that there originally was, and should be, a fan attached to the cold side of the engine. Upon seeing my friend, I asked if he ever comes upon the old man that sold him the Essex engine. He said that he sometimes goes into his neighborhood. Upon hearing about the fan that belonged to the engine, he said he would ask the gentleman if he ever remembers seeing the fan on the engine. Upon asking him, the old gentleman said that they would look in the attic closet. They did, and in the opposite side of the closet, wrapped in burlap (as was the Essex engine), was the original fan. …….How’s that for a happy ending?
My engine is powered by the original alcohol burner that is cast iron with a brass bottom. The wooden base, on which the engine is mounted, is somewhat weather worn, but I think it might be the original board that accompanied the Essex from new, so I left it as it was.