Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

1 HP Domestic Mud Pump Engine

Bob and engine before cleanup.

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206 Chestnut Street, Slatington, PA 18080.

I remember the first time I saw her- my heart skipped a beat. I knew right then and there that I had to have her. No, I'm not talking about a woman but a 3 HP Domestic side-shaft gas engine.

My dad, also Bob Smith, has had engines for about 20 years, but they never really interested me. At least, not until I went with him to a show at Kinzers three years ago and saw my first Domestic engine. I knew then that I had been bitten by the bug. That same fall I found and restored a 1? HP Domestic with a mud pump on it. Time to start looking for another one!

I always check the 'for sale' ads in the GEM and the newspaper ads and sales. Early this past June there was a public sale ad in our local paper that caught my eye. One of the items listed was a 5 HP gas engine, so I waited for the following Friday to see if they would give more information on it. To my dismay the ad only appeared that one time. With directions in hand, I left home to check it out. Thirty minutes later I was at the sale location where I found out that it was to be a two day sale. They were going to sell the contents of the country store that evening with the remainder being sold on Saturday. I found the person who was having the sale and introduced myself. I told him that I was interested in the engine and asked if it would be okay to see it. He pointed me to a small washhouse and said it was inside. I opened the door and couldn't believe my eyes! There, in the far corner, sat a 3 HP Domestic - which brings us back to the beginning of the story.

When I got home that night I called my dad and told him what I had found. Being a little short on cash (or so I thought) to buy the engine, I offered to go half and half with him on it. Saturday morning we were at the sale an hour before starting time. As we were looking the engine over, the man that I had talked to the previous evening came over and introduced himself as the nephew of the engine's owner, Mrs. Christman. He told us that the engine was bought by the Christmans in the late twenties from Mrs. Christman's brother. Also, that the engine was used on a lineshaft to power two wooden wash machines and a grindstone, and to pump water from a well for the washers. He said the engine was last used in 1952 when the Christmans put electricity in the washhouse.

When the engine came up for sale there was only one other bidder. We got it for a very reasonable price, due to the fact that the nameplate was missing. If it had been advertised as a Domestic, I know that there would have been other engine buffs there. Sometimes you just get lucky!

After getting her loaded, we headed for home. We decided to keep her at my dad's house because he has more room, but we stopped first at my house to show my wife our prize. Telling our tale of acquiring the engine, she said we looked like two kids on Christmas morning. Once unloaded, I was anxious to see if we could get it running. We hooked up a battery, dumped in some gas, opened up the relief valve and turned her over to get gas in the carb. On the first spin of the flywheels she was off and running. We just stood in amazement and a cloud of blue smoke. After a week of cleaning, the original paint color and stripping came through. We did a much needed valve job and she ran like a clock. The only missing parts were the nameplate and crank guard.

A friend of mine who also likes Domestics told me to look for numbers on the end of the crank. He gave me the phone number of Don Kirkpatrick whom he said has records on Domestic engines. I called Mr. Kirkpatrick and he told me that our Domestic is a 3 HP shipped 8/28/08 on skids to L. F. Grammes & Sons in Little Gap - only two miles from where I live. It was sold almost immediately to Lewis Moskowitz of Little Gap. He was a brother of Mrs. Christman. The engine was probably taken to a local blacksmith shop and put on its unique buggy.

In the last three years I have met a lot of interesting people at various shows including Don Kirkpatrick, this past summer. I would like to thank everyone for all their help and information, and I hope to be able to do the same for others.