An Engine Story

Lauson Engine

We used this Lauson engine for running the saw rig.

Clark W. Colby

Content Tools

421 E. Coolidge Avenue Appleton, Wisconsin 54915

I would like to share my engine story with you. It all started when I was in school. My dad always talked about engines and he was a big influence as far as getting me interested in gasoline engines. He used to tell me stories about using engines as a little boy, and later on on his parents' farm. He told me that they used engines to pump water and to generate power for equipment used in and around the barn and milk house. They had a small dairy farm and they also used engines to grind feed for the cattle. He told me they used a 20 HP engine which was plenty big enough to do the work that was needed for a feed mill. He also said that in those days farmers traveled many miles to have their feed ground up.

As my dad got my interest up, I asked him where that old engine went to when the home farm was sold. My dad told me it was at a neighbor's farm and I became all excited and told him I wanted to go look at it and maybe we could bring it home.

We went there and brought it home just like I wanted. I was so happy and excited but it needed a lot of work, and mechanical attention. It had been sitting on its cart in some tall grass for many years and it was all frozen up. None of the parts would move. My dad told me that, when it was brought there, they drained the water from it and covered it up, but still the weather didn't do it any good. Even bumble bees had made a nest between the engine and the cart. This engine was a DeLaval 1?  HP and the paint was pretty much gone, but it was originally green. I'm not sure of the year it was made but I think it had to have been made in the early 20's. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get it going. It was a challenge of our mechanical ability. We really wanted to see and hear it run. This engine was neat and I never in my life saw an engine like it. It was an engine with two big flywheels.

After school and on weekends I helped my dad. The first thing we did was take the head off, clean the valves and take the piston out and clean the rings and then we oiled everything as it needed lubrication very badly. Then we looked into the carburetor and did all the necessary cleaning. We then cleaned the rest of the engine and put it back together.

The time that I was waiting for was here! We started it up with anticipated excitement and it began running! The only bad thing was that the governor stuck and we thought it was going to take off and fly! We quickly shut it off and started cleaning and repairing it again. We were fortunate though, that all the parts on the engine were reuseable and didn't need replacing. We only had to get a new gas tank and a new gas line. After this we started it up again and it ran beautifully and had much rhythm.

Now came the time to see how much it could pull. We bought a used saw rig, but it was too much for this engine to handle, so we found a bigger engine and installed a larger pulley and did some minor repairs and it did a fine job of pulling then. We used it mostly for sawing smaller limbs and branches. The 'new' old engine we bought was called a Lawson hit and miss. The DeLaval was later sold, but we wished later that we hadn't sold it, because the engine was gone and so was the money. We made wood because at the time my parents and aunt used wood as a source of heat in their homes. We also sold some wood that we made, and these old engines sure made making wood a lot easier.

Over the years I have been to a lot of engine shows and tractor pulls which I do enjoy a lot. I also enjoy going to old days parades and thresherees and I like to watch the working shingle mills and the many other working shows. During one engine show I saw an engine sitting on a trailer and it was for sale. It was a McCormick Deering 1? HP. I purchased it and had repairs to make. I cleaned the engine, and oiled it. The gas tank was rusted, and mice had a nest in it at one time, and some parts were missing. I wondered what to do, so I called my friend who is also interested in engines, and with his help and some books I read, I was able to order parts and put it back together, and get it running. It runs pretty good too, and I've enclosed a photo of it. I found and bought a cart for it and it looks pretty sharp as the color of the engine and cart complement one another.

The last engine I bought was for the parts only, if I can free it. It's very rusted and there are a lot of parts missing. It is also a McCormick Deering 1? HP. I so enjoy each time I start up my engines and hear them run. Engines bring back memories of the past for me and many people and they are also a part of history.