Several engines built by Russell Anderson, including this Root & Vandervoort vertical gas engine, are on display in the Craftsmanship Museum. At an early age, Russell showed his talent for tinkering with all things mechanical. Born in 1930 on a farm in North Dakota, he was already fixing tractors and other farm equipment by age nine, and built his first motorcycle from parts found in apple crates at the age of ten.
After serving as a radio operator in the Korean War Russell moved to California where he worked on cars in his uncle’s gas station and later on airplanes for North American. He ended up working on radar systems at LAX for 30 years until he retired in 1986.
However, his real passion was building scale models of old engines and other machines that he had worked on when he was growing up on the farm. In particular, he liked building engines that had external moving parts that you could see in action.
Russell started with just a metal lathe and drill press in a small makeshift shop until he built his dream shop in 1980. Over the course of more than four decades, he spent thousands of hours building model steam and internal combustion engines, and didn’t consider a model complete until it ran. The engine he most enjoyed building was a 1/3 scale Galloway that was an exact replica of an engine that his grandfather used on the farm. Russell’s engines are on loan courtesy of Steve Anderson.