Ken Dufour is going Hollywood, via LeClaire, Iowa.
Dufour, a Rockford businessman who may be best known here as a trustee of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is the latest Rockfordian to be featured in an episode of American Pickers. He’ll be on this Monday, Dec. 12, to appraise an antique plane engine.
American Pickers is a popular History Channel show featuring the antique hunting adventures of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, who search the country for treasures in barns and junk piles. Wolfe owns an antique shop in LeClaire, Antique Archeology.
Dufour, president and CEO of Aviation Management Consulting in Rockford, said he got a call last month from the show’s producers asking if he could appraise the engine that Fritz and Wolfe bought for $700.
The engine is a Heath-Henderson engine, a modified Henderson motorcycle engine that was used in the 1920s and 1930s as part of a home airplane building kit called the Heath Kit. Edward Heath of Benton Harbor, Mich., modified the engine for the kit he created, according to Chapter 865 of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Benton Harbor.
Dufour said he drove Nov. 9 to LeClaire to Wolfe’s shop, which he described as a “little place behind the Amoco and A&W.”
The engine, he said, was rusty and corroded. It needed restoration. While a Heath-Henderson engine sold recently for $7,000 at auction, Dufour said he appraised the picker’s engine at about $2,500.
Dufour said he’s not sure how the show found him, but he is well known among collectors and at museums. Dufour appraises antique aircraft for The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, The Canadian Air and Space Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and other museums.
Dufour doesn’t charge for museum appraisals and said he declined American Picker’s offer to reimburse him for gas between Rockford and LeClaire.
“Historical stuff should be for the good of the public,” he said. “I’ll make my money on other things.”
Dufour has frequently been in the news the past year as the region worked to bring an Embry-Riddle residential campus. Embry-Riddle tabled plans to open a third campus earlier this year.