Back in 1932, Louis Desair, Damar, Kan., needed an anchor to keep the open end of his old one-car garage from leaning with the ever-changing wind. One day it would lean north; maybe the next day it would lean south, so the doors never worked. He dug two large holes; in one he placed an old worn out Model T engine block to which a cable was attached, then run up to the eaves and across above the door to the other side and down to an antique gas engine from which the cylinder head had been removed. (No one can remember why.) This antique gas engine made an excellent anchor and the garage stood straight so the doors always worked. That engine turned out to be a 1-3/4 HP IHC Mogul.
Several years later better times had come and there was need for a larger garage, a shop, space to store a truck and tractor. The old garage was torn down and a new large storage shed built on the same site. The cable was cut off about 18 inches in the ground; the anchors not worth digging up were left. A partial concrete floor was run, but not reinforced.
Now enters Joe Roy, who married Mr. Desair's granddaughter. Joe is a full-time mechanic for the local John Deere dealer and has a small machine shop at his home for his own pleasure. He spends some of his free time rummaging in salvage yards and in 1969 he rescued a Cushman Cub from the scrap heap. He took it home and had so much fun making it run that he has been looking for engines to rescue ever since. Someone remembered the old gas engine that had been used for the anchor and told Joe he thought it was buried under the concrete floor in the storage shed.
It was a cold December Saturday in 1980, a freezing rain was falling when "Gas Engine Joe" came by and asked if I wanted to help dig up an antique gas engine. We gathered up sledge hammers, concrete drills, a soil test auger with three foot extension, post hole diggers, spades, shovels and a metal locator and proceeded to the storage shed. It was said the engine was buried under the concrete floor. But where under that floor? Many small bits of metal had been lost or discarded around the old garage. This made the metal locator scream almost everywhere but a spot was finally found that indicated an object large enough to be the engine. A hole was drilled through the concrete and the soil auger brought into use. Almost instantly it struck metal; far too shallow to be the engine.
Evidence of the foundation for the old garage was found outside the north wall of the new structure. Out in the cold drizzle we went. What appeared to be the rear corner was located and a tape measure was used to determine the general location of the open end. Some more guessing determined the approximate location of an anchor. The soil test auger struck metal at about 30' on the first try. A pattern of holes drilled around this one indicated a rather large object so spaces and shovels were manned and in a few minutes the Model T block was exposed. Now back to the tape measure and some more guessing; the building would have been between 8 and 12 feet wide.
We made our first test at a location to fit a ten foot garage; we struck metal at the twelve foot site, but a pattern drilled on this location brought nothing more. The metal locator showed good but that had failed before and we didn't dare break up more of the floor than was necessary to get the engine out. Time was running out and the depth was about right so it was decided to enlarge the hole enough to dig with post hole diggers. When the dust was cleaned from the bottom of this hole, the rim of a flywheel could be seen. Concrete drills and hammers soon had a hole large enough for the engine to be lifted out. Dust flew as we burrowed into the ground and soon the little engine lay exposed in her resting place of 48 years. She was carefully lifted to the surface.
Much to our dismay there was no cylinder head or ignition mechanism but a close inspection of the cylinder bore showed dried-on grease. The nameplate was in good condition proclaiming her to be International Harvester Company Mogul 1-3/4 HP, serial number #Y5088. Darkness was at hand so the sad-looking Mogul was loaded in the trailer for the trip home.
In daylight the next day she looked even worse! Blobs of rust clung to the engine everywhere and the machined surfaces of the flywheels were badly pitted. By placing the flywheels in a turning lathe and cutting or grinding 1/32" from the machined surfaces, most of these pits can be removed. The rough castings show very few pits under the coat of rust so a good sandblasting will care for that.
When all the missing parts have been found and time permits Joe Roy, Stockton, Kansas, will add a beautifully restored Mogul to his growing collection of one cylinder gas engines, and a great story to go with it.
This was not our first attempt to find something that had been buried, but it is our first success. The engine was located in a known 14 x 28 foot area, yet it took a very long day to find it. We still enjoy searching for those items we know to be buried and for those we hear about. Landmarks, once there, now gone for years and memories not measured in feet, make them poor prospects.