Content Tools

Route 1 Arthur, Iowa 51431

I have always been interested in engines and anything mechanical and as I grow older I still marvel at the wonderful things of the past...this is probably why I was put on the Antique Committee of the Centennial of our town. Even when electricity came to our farm, I just couldn't throw our little John Deere 1 HP model E in the junk heap, nor a model W.M. Briggs & Stratton. Also I had picked up a model Y Briggs & Stratton years ago that would possibly have been thrown away!

Now back to the Centennial project...I had this J.D. 1 HPI couldn't throw away. This little engine's main job was powering the washing machine, but our water was at that time pumped by a windmill which I still have! As we know, the wind didn't blow all the time so little John at times had to be removed from the wash house to pump up some water until the wind was of sufficient velocity to run the windmill once again.

And when it came oat seeding time, again little John was called to do the job of powering the fanning mill; also the little engine ran the emery wheel to keep our cultivator shovels and mower sickles sharp, along with many other tools.

One other job little John had was to charge the radio battery. I obtained a generator from a neighbor and made a small bench over the engine. Also I took some leather from our harness repairs and made a belt that would fit from flywheel to generator. Mother could wash and charge the radio battery at the same time!

I remember this engine came to our farm by my father and the running board of a model T Ford in 1927 and faithfully carried on the above-mentioned chores for twenty years. Throw it away...I couldn't! I always found room to store little John.

When I was put on the Centennial Committee, I remembered an engine that was sitting on the ground over fifty years ago. I asked my cousin if the engine was still there he said yes, but it had 10 feet of old iron piled on it. My mind was made up I was going to get that engine and have it running by June 1981.

So one day I started the task of retrieving it. I didn't know what kind it was but after cutting down a few trees and moving tons of iron, I found what I was afteran engine with a brass nameplate that said 'Hired Man' with a picture of a farmer in a straw hat. The engine was in such sad shape I nearly swallowed my pride and left it. But after so much work, I brought it home anyway. I also got a Delco light plant that was in pieces and bad repair.

I heard that some people by the name of Sparks at Beaver, Iowa, had light plants and maybe I could get some parts there. While I was there, Sparks said 'Why don't you go East of town and see Dennis Power's tractors?'

I was a little hesitant about visiting someone unannounced but I went anyway. I found Dennis in a large building where he was putting a tender on a steam engine. This building with a line of steam tractors on one side and gasoline tractors on the other was just breathtaking!!

Now for you that had the patience to read...my Hired Man, the Delco Light Plant, Little John plus a dozen other engines I had restored made it to the Centennial.

While at the Centennial, one man came up and observed my engines a while and then asked if I had picked them up from dealers as unused. I told him he had just greatly complimented me!!!