A Hard-Won Witte

Old Gas Engine

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St. Rt. 2, Box 17, Walton, Wisconsin 25286

I have a story that I think is too good not to be shared with fellow gas engine collectors. About two years ago I heard about an old gas engine sitting in a building on a remote farm in West Virginia.

I learned about it from a fellow with not too good a reputation for telling the truth. Knowing this I kinda dismissed the story. About a year later I ran into the nephew of the people who owned the farm where the engine was supposed to be. I decided to ask him if he knew of a gas engine with two flywheels. He being a very young lad said he knew nothing about this type of engine. But, he said his grandfather had the engine the first man told me about. I had doubted the story, but I guess the tale teller had made a mistake and told me the truth!

To get on with the conversation I had with the young nephew of the original owner, he suggested I talk with his father about buying the engine. This being Saturday night, I waited until I thought his father was out of bed Sunday morning. I was sitting in his driveway, told him my business there, but he was very little help.

He said there were about seven heirs involved and he wanted no part of it on his shoulders. But, he would talk to his father who was a brother of the man who bought it new. A few days passed, then he called me to tell me his father also would not give the go ahead to sell. But while we talked, he gave me the phone number of one of his father's brothers, and told me to call him and get his opinion.

I phoned him long distance and took about an hour to bring him up to date on what was happening in the county where he had grown up and become a doctor. Finally I got a chance to break in on the conversation and ask about the engine. He said he remembered it well; that his brother bought it new to run a cut off saw.

Considering the fact it had sat there for about fifty years and none of the family showed an interest in it, he told me to have his nephew set a price on it and let me have it. I thanked him and the next day I was back in the driveway at the nephew's to relate to him what I thought was good news.

Wrong. He still wanted no part in pricing it.

He told me he thought I should go talk to his father in person and indicated he didn't wish to discuss it any more. Well, I thought, if he could not talk to his father I surely would be wasting my time considering the fact his father was 86 years young.

So, feeling very low, I went home and decided to forget about the whole mess.

Well, another six months passed and I ran into the young lade great nephew to the original owner and grandson to the 86 year old, and he wanted to know if I were still interested in the engine, because if so, Grandpa had decided to make me a price.

Again the next day being Sunday I decided to give it one more try. I waited until I figured he'd be up and I knocked on the door. The old gentleman invited me in to talk.

After about an hour of discussing past events he said, 'I have arrived at a price where I can divide among the heirs and have no change.' I told him it seemed a bit rich for me, but after going to this much fuss, what was a little more going to matter?

So, after unlocking the gate at the old farm, we were faced with a lock on the door of the building, with no key. It was so rusty, it would not have opened anyway.

The nephew pried off the lock and I went in and over in a dry corner sat a 6 HP type F Witte. I took hold of the flywheels and to my surprise, they moved.

I am getting ahead of the story a little bit. The old gentleman told me the engine had been sitting in this same spot for 40 to 50 years and he could not ever remember hearing it run. Well, to be safe I took along three extra men, a pry bar, a hand winch and chains plus a 4-wheel drive truck. So, I figured after doing all this I would go ahead and load the engine.

Immediately after getting it home I made a return trip to the old gentleman's house and gave him his price, naturally in cash, thanked him and headed home. By this time darkness had overtaken me and I had to wait all night before looking my investment over real good.

To my surprise after wiping a little bit of 40 years of dirt, this engine had about 95% of the original finish left on it plus it was still mounted on the shipping skids. I immediately got the squirt can and oiled every moving part. Let it soak for about a week and just today put gas in the carburetor and gave it a few turns. Put the plug wire back on, cranked again and to my surprise again it started and ran perfect.

Had an EK Wico that was still as hot as the day it was built. Have checked the engine very closely and have not found one worn part.

So boys, if you hear of an old engine, be patient. You just might own it some day!