The PT6 Engine: Pierre Hamel’s Hobby and Fascination
Pierre Hamel became a collector of all things PT6 by chance. An assembler/tester for the PW100-150 at P&WC’s Longueuil plant since 1980, Pierre met P&WC retiree Bill Vertilneck, a PT6-engine enthusiast, in 1987. Bill wanted to install the legendary engine in a refurbished 1947 Cadillac. It was Bill, whom Pierre considers a mentor, who introduced him to the world of Indy 500 race cars equipped with PT6 engines.
“I have become as passionate as Bill!” says Pierre. “He started giving me small-scale models, videos showcasing the engine in action in Indy 500 races, photos, posters and other articles. I began buying every magazine that mentioned the PT6 engine in connection to cars, trains, trucks and boats. In time, my passion grew into a collection.”
Eventually, a room in his house became a mini-museum. Here, in this space charged with history, boxes containing evidence of the evolution and performance of the famous engine have been accumulating over the years.
“In the beginning, the collection was for pure pleasure,” says Pierre. “But over the years, my goals morphed into a desire to preserve a part of the company’s history so that people will remember the PT6’s versatility for a long time. This engine, whose flexibility has made such an impression on me, is our Harley-Davidson….”
It was by a stroke of luck that Pierre met Fred Cowley a few years ago. As it happened, Fred was the engineer for PT6-engine-equipped Indy 500 race cars from 1967 to 1968. Needless to say, Pierre was thrilled. Fred, too, presented Pierre with many priceless items from the past for his collection.
“I am one of the lucky few who had access to all these unique bits and pieces of history,” says Pierre. “Today, I am sharing them with you! After 25 years of collecting, I have recently begun donating PT6 memorabilia to P&WC.”
That said, Pierre continues to share his passion with other PT6-engine hobbyists. “I’m in regular contact with a dozen or so hobbyists in the United States, France and Japan whom I found through blogs.”
The collection’s highlight? The drive shaft from a Lotus 56 fuel pump – a historical piece, according to Pierre. In addition to a vast array of articles and photographs, the collection includes 16 mm films, miniature race cars equipped with the PT6 engine and even Fred Cowley’s racing-team jacket.
You might say that Pierre Hamel is one enthusiastic PT6 hobbyist!