Old Engine

Courtesy of Bob Hartwig, 1442 Lincoln Drive, Flint, Michigan 48503.

Bob Hartwig

Content Tools

1442 Lincoln Drive Flint, Michigan 48503

If Elmer Smithwick ever reads this, I'll just have to leave the country. Even though Elmer isn't a day over ninety, he'll get me. I'm sure. You see, it's this way. Many, many years ago, perhaps in the beginning 30's, we had an old car fixed up with a Model T coil. Juice going in, one pole grounded with a chain, another pole connected to the car frame. You've guessed it. When someone was standing on the ground and touched the car, we pushed the button. They lit up a bit. It was a sort of fun thing. Most of the fellows around were at one time or another working on old cars, or tractors, or old engines. Getting a poke now and then wasn't too unusual.

Well, one day my brother, Jo, and his buddy were visiting Elmer at his farm. Elmer came near the car -- didn't touch it. We wouldn't have shocked him. Too old, I guess. But -- Elmer was a hunter. A hunter has hounds. And hounds are inquisitive. Elmer's hound was inquisitive -- about the front tire and wheel. Then someone pushed the button. Now I have seen a lot of fast hounds -- but not as fast as this one. I'll not forget that little cloud of dust heading around the barn, thru the gate, down the lane a half mile or so and into the woods. And I knew that in that little cloud was a hound. Anyhow -- we were never quite sure if Elmer knew exactly what had happened. Only thing he said was, 'He must have bumped his foot.'

See story -- Elmeretta.

Rumely Oil Pull 15-30 single cylinder. One of the early models. Eagle 16-30, No. 618.

Now -- nearly forty years later -- we had been talking around the farm community about old engines. Elmer heard of our interest and had his wife call us. Said he had put one in the shed a few years ago; it ran real good then, and he would be willing to sell it now. We couldn't help but go out to see it -- but somehow we wondered just how much he really knew about the dog incident, and if he might just be going to get even a bit.

Got there on a cold blustery day in the early fall. Elmer and the wife were busy doing some winterizing on the old farmhouse. We chatted a while -- about everything in general. I didn't want him to 'feel' how excited I was about that engine. All old engines bother me that way when I first go after them. I casually asked where he kept the engine.

He said, 'Oh, right out there in the shed, towards the left-hand back corner.' I asked how long it had been there. He said they had put it there when they had gotten electricity; didn't need it for pumping anymore. I did a bit of adding and subtracting in my head. Farm I grew up on was just east of here. Only four miles or so. Our electricity came in 1936 and I knew that Elmer got his a couple of years before that. Quite a long storage for this one -- of course I was happy that it was stored inside.

This is a rather odd engine with two pistons and one connecting rod, one wrist pin and one spark plug. You can read the name on the side of the engine -Sieverkropp, 1910. (This is owned by L. B. Herron.)

See story - Elmeretta.

We went out to the shed. And a fine shed it was, that is, the front of the shed was fine. Doorway was sort of clogged up with things. Elmer wasn't one to throw things away. I peeked inside and it did look sort of daylight. I walked around the outside of the building and found that sometime some years ago the building had just caved in. Trees and shrubs and grapevines had made a wonderful growth up through. We dug a while. After an hour or so we found a wheel of the truck that the engine sat on. Then the engine. A small throttle-governed International -- I think it was 2? horsepower, Model M. I didn't have one like it just then so asked the question, how much? Elmer knew too much. He had figured how to arrive at the top dollar. You know, sometimes one just can't back out. You can't argue. You can't bargain. You just smile a bit and pay. I paid.

The old gal was free. Seems like the rubbish had fallen just right. Protected most every thing but the carb. We rebuilt that. Had to remagnatize the Mag. Put in a new plug, re-built the gas pump and a few other bits. Put gas in the priming part of the carb., gave her a shot of ether -- spray can style -- my, what magic stuff that is for me.

We never used the crank. Just grab the flywheels and pull it over -- past compression -- and step back. Those M's sure do a lot of running. Gas pumps irritate me at times. Wonder if they might not have been a bit better engineered. Still they were a lot of engine compared with the old upright Famous jobs from the same company but a lot earlier. We have two of those -- and feel fortunate to have saved them from the junkyard and to put them in our yard.

Red Devil gas engine, 2 hp. Built by Cavanaugh and Darley Gas Engine Company of Chicago, Illinois, in the early 1900's.

Hart Parr, 28-50, No. 70892.

We'll put the M back on a water pump -- One we put on a raised platform with a tank underneath. Sort of 'ersatz.' But a great number of folks who visit us think only of city water -- and a tap or faucet. They seem to get a great bang out of reading the history around our yard. We're trying to put the old engines back to work as they were -- or nearly so. Our city friends get to help us buzz wood. Always have some poles piled and ready and the Stover 5 hp. just waiting to have her tail twisted. She barks nicely. Have a nice Fairbanks Morse, 15 hp. that ran a sawmill near fifty years ago. It's in beautiful shape. Wrote a letter about a small mill for that one today. But, that's another story -- and some more work -- and a lot more fun.