Showing off a local antique engine company’s history is a source of pride for an Ottawa man.
Two decades ago, Greg Kendall became interested in Warner Industries, which manufactured engines, fence and electrical refrigeration products in the early 1900s to the 1950s.
Kendall brought his century-old Ottawa Warner engines to the 23rd Annual Power of the Past Antique Engine and Tractor Show in Forest Park, 320 N. Locust, Ottawa, on Friday. The show will run through Sunday.
“I had seen some 20 years ago and had some interest in them,” Kendall said. “After I got involved with the historical society, my interest increased. It got to the point where I was able to get one. After you get one, you have to get another one. I have been collecting for about five years.”
Kendall said Warner Industries, which still has its main office standing on north King Street, is an Ottawa treasure.
“They had their own foundry and machine shops,” he said. “I had interest in the company and the machines. I put a manuscript together. When Gene Warner died before the 1951 flood, that was the end of it. His wife ran it for a couple of months and she sold it to another company. They kept the factory running for a couple of years.”
A Warner Company manuscript from 1927, found on the Franklin County historical website, said, “The Warner products, famous for high quality and perfection of mechanical detail, are made so by the employment of highest grade of modern machinery and high-skilled workmen. ‘System’ is brought to highest efficiency. The output is standardized and the mechanics are specialized in individual work.”
Kendall said the Power of the Past event is something he looks forward to each year. He has been showing the Ottawa Warner engines for four years.
“Some of these [Ottawa engine collectors] have been coming 20-plus years,” he said. “I think it is interesting and fun. It is nice to have all the collectors together. A person who has not been collecting very long, like me, you get a chance to talk to people who have been doing this for a long time. They can help you with your engines. It is nice to show them, but it is a good learning experience. I usually come away having found something else I need to do.”
Kendall said the Warner engines were used by farmers before there was even electricity on the farms.
“This was their source of power,” he said. “Anything they could hook a belt up to, they would run it with one of these. Anything from a rotating piece of equipment to machines, saws, pumps or grain elevators.”
He said most of his machines, which are 100 years old, have the original parts. The engines he has collected so far are either 2.5 horsepower or 10 horsepower.
“There are sizes in between,” Kendall said. “I would like to have a couple of in-between sizes.”