Another Stickney Story

13 HP Stickney

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1155 Carpenter Cyn. Rd., Arroyo Grande, California 93420

Many years ago-perhaps about June of 1909 in a factory in St. Paul, Minnesota-an unusual 13 HP engine was designed and manufactured. Its name was Stickney #6601 and little did it know that it was on the way to becoming a legend in its own time. It would perform many years of faithful service and go on to survive most of its brothers and sisters who were being shipped all over the country at the same time. Some went into mining, others into farming. Still others wound up in a multitude of livelihoods which were performed, for the most part, very well.

The 13 HP Stickney was shipped out west by rail freight to the little California town of San Luis Obispo, and was shortly thereafter on the way to a new home in the Avila Valley, some ten miles away.

It didn't take long for Stickney to get to work. He was attractive, strong, well built and easy to start. There were other engines on the farm that remarked at his unusual design, but so what-he did the job and did it well!

Stickney was given his own trucks and became the main engine on the farm, tackling every job from pumping water to threshing grain.

As time went on, his owner took good care of him by proper maintenance and lubrication. His owner liked him so well that he refused to let anyone near him with a pipe wrench-making sure that Stickney's parts stayed nice.

Sadly, one day, after only a few years of good service, Stickney got word that his father had gone out of business and sold his home to others. Little could he know that in the schedule of events to come that this would spell death to most of his brothers and sisters as parts would become unavailable.

Luckily, Stickney had a good owner who continued to take care of him. California living was good for him-no frozen water hopper or cracked head. The years went on and Stickney became an adult. He was in his prime, and work was his middle name. His owner had maintained him so well that he did not need any parts-even his mains were still perfect.

Stickney worked almost continuously for the next 40 years without any major problems. Once, while inspecting his rod cap, the lead bearing was accidentally broken into six pieces. Stickney's owner had all the pieces skillfully pinned back together with brass screws.

One day a person became careless and got hurt by not paying attention to Stickney's owner's manual. In retaliation, Stickney's ignitor was smashed with a hammer, and shortly after that he was replaced by a new multi-cylinder and Stickney went into retirement. Even though Stickney didn't want to retire, his ignitor was badly broken and could not be replaced, so he was pulled around behind the barn and left to rust.

Soon the 'Big War' came and the iron men came looking. Stickney hid, trembling behind the old barn, while his aging owner stalled off the would-be-killers. Stickney knew that all over the country hundreds of his brothers and cousins were going off to war- never to return.

More years went by and Stickney could hear other engines doing what he used to do. He couldn't see them, but he knew that they would surely wear out soon as they turned over five times faster than he ever did. How right he was.

One day, some men came over and hauled Stickney, trembling, out from behind the barn. His cylinder head was removed and thrown in the iron pile. The word 'woodsplitter' was heard and Stickney shuddered all the way down to his flyball governor. They wanted to make a woodsplitter out of him!

Some things in life are just not meant to be. For some reason known only to the engine gods, Stickney was saved the humiliation of becoming a woodsplitter. Now though his head was lost, he was getting even rustier and mother nature had started to work on his cylinder. His body was still O.K. though, as his faithful owner had made sure that it had lots of oil and grease.

Stickney went on to survive the Korean and Viet Nam iron seekers. He was relocated to a different ranch, 20 miles from his original home. It was a safe spot, away from the scrap iron men. His new home was also very hard to see from the main road and very few people even knew of his existence and that he was one of the very few Stickneys left. Little did he know that only two of his big 20 HP brothers had survived and just a handful of his smaller brothers and sisters. Somehow he knew that his life was not meant to be ended by rusting away forlornly on this ranch. He had survived his work years and the scrap drives. He had survived the loss of his head and the smashed ignitor didn't bother him as much as the kid who stole his nameplate one day. Then there were the boys who shot holes in his tin water hopper and robbed all of his brass parts. But Stickney kept his faith and hung on through all of these things.

In 1984 a caring man learned of Stickney's existence and in 1985 was able to obtain him from the ranch. Finally, in June of 1988 on his 71st birthday, Stickney went into the shop to become not the once dreaded woodsplitter, but the handsome 13 HP that he had been back in June of '09. He was given a brand new head, nameplate, ignitor, brass parts, and yes, a brand new brass water hopper to replace the galvanized tin one full of bullet holes. Last but not least, he was painted in his original deep blue color, and then pin striped in gold!

Today, Stickney remains as a memorial to his brothers and sisters who perished in the wars. He has learned that his few surviving family members are doing well in their old age. In the future, he hopes to see some of them at shows and talk about the old days when single cylinders echoed across the valleys.

In searching his roots, he has not been able to find any twins. He once had a 13 HP step-brother named St. Paul, but that was long ago. If any of his twin brothers or sisters are still alive, he would sure like to correspond with them.

Mr. Richardson extends special thanks to Glee Berry of Salivax, CA and to Richard Geyer, DeSmet, SD. Also, for anyone wishing to restore a Stickney in the future, he kept a diary of people, places, parts and data.