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The Backus Story
How I acquired the Backus

Still Working on This Page

Young Worker

8 hp. Kansas City Lightning 
Made in Kansas City,  Missouri

My adventure started about 2 weeks ago whenI received an email with a picture of this Backuson the page. I asked my wife if this was a joke.It was at its original site where it was placed inthe late 1890's or early 1900's. I called thenumber and the gentleman was not even surewhat it was. He was a car collector and thoughtit was a steam engine. The guys from WorldImpact did not want to see the enginescrapped. They knew someone out there wouldwant it. They emailed me that they would like toget rid of the engine, but I would have to get itout of the basement.

We made arrangements to head out to Newark
once my son got out of college for spring break,
the next week. The planning process began.
How was I going to get this thing out of the
basement of this building?! They gave me
photos and some plans on how to possibly
remove it from the building.

I took everything I thought I would need. I
purchased a gantry crane and other tools that
would be helpful. So we headed out to Newark
New Jersey, a long 10 hour drive, and arrived at
2 in the afternoon. We missed all the rush hour
traffic. Once we got there, we had to be let in a
gated parking lot behind the World Impact
building. The neighborhood was not bad, but
not good. We met with Luke and Ron. They
took us down several long flights of stairs and
past a huge row of gigantic boilers, then into
another room where there she sat. A large
Backus engine. It was a beautifully preserved
engine sitting on top of nice white ceramic glaze
brick platform. The room was dark and the
lights inside did not work. Ron managed to get
us some lighting and trouble lights. Then they
left us to our work. While my youngest son and
I brought the tools downstairs, my wife and
oldest son began wrenching. My wife wrenched
on the first nut and barely needed to put
pressure on it and it moved. She basically
removed more than half of the nuts and bolts
on the engine. We had the engine disassembled
within 5 hours. The gantry crane was helpful to
lift the engine pieces and put them on roller
carts. We moved them into the boiler room by
the dumb waiter elevator for their anticipated
removal the next day. We were able to stay onsite. World Impact Ministries had a room that
we stayed in. We woke up that next morning
knowing our challenge. The engine was apart,
now to get it out of the building. I called a crane
operator that was pre notified that someone
may be calling him in the near future. He called
back within an hour and made arrangements to
head out to the World Impact building. I had to
get the steel dumb waiter doors opened at road
level. I had to grind on the welds and they
finally opened. A 40 foot drop to the bottom of
the dumb waiter where the Backus sat in pieces
ready to be lifted out. We now cleaned up the
room where the Backus once sat and hauled all
the tools back up to the first floor. Then the
crane arrived. With limited space he
maneuvered his rig in the parking lot. The next
thing you know the base of the Backus was
floating through the air heading to my trailer.
Then the flywheels came out never bumping or
touching anything. The crane driver placed the
flywheels on the base with precision. The
cylinder. the piston and the muffler followed.
We reassembled the base, flywheels and
cylinder on the trailer. We hauled the rest of the
tools out of the building and tied down the
engine. We said our thank you's, and good
bye's, and headed west, missing rush hour
again. The Backus arrived safely in Carleton
Michigan surviving the rain, sleet and snow we
encountered on the way home. It turned out to
be my best birthday ever.

After unloading the engine and looking at it a
little more closely, we found a 14 stamped in the
back of cam gear eccentric pin. We also found a
lot of the parts are nickel plated. The serial
number is #1050. We would like to find out any
information on the engine. A few minor parts
were stolen off the engine while the building sat
empty before World Impact purchased it. The
engine is missing the nameplate, the governor
nameplate, hot tube chimney and burner. I am
also looking for correct oilers that were used on
the engine.

I believe the engine was used to pump water to
the boilers. It was hard to follow the piping in
the building. The engine was well preserved.

The engine is sitting in the doorway of my barn
waiting to be set on a set of skids and finding its
place among the row of large engines in my barn.

***Wanted ***

I am always looking for unusual

antique gas engines

 to add to my collection.

  I will puchase one or a whole collection

Please give me a call.  

I also will give finders fees.

Ed      734-755-3609

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