Count Your Many Blessings

Old Gas Engines

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7900 Taylor, Zeeland, Michigan 49464

NEW YEARS, 1979, the snow is piled high beneath the windowsills of our old farm house, the temperature is zero or just a little above as I begin writing this.

Let us first look back at the past year and think about some of the things that took place, some good and some not so good. As we look back, we can ask ourselves if we met all of the goals we had set for ourselves at the beginning of the 1978 year, and if we are honest, we must say 'No.' I believe sometimes the good Lord lets us fail just so that we do not get too big for our 'britches'. Then too, we must ask if we did all the things we should have done. Again, if we are honest, we must say 'No.' Did we turn the other cheek, as the Good Book says we should, or did we take offense at something one of our fellowmen did or said? Did we lend a helping hand as often as we had a chance to, or did we look the other way and tell ourselves we were too busy? We can only ask the Lord to forgive our mistakes of the past year, and ask for courage and wisdom not to make the same mistakes in the new year.

The year 1978 was a trying year for the Dalmans in many ways and also a very good year in many ways. On December 29 of 1977 Mrs. Dalman suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for almost three weeks. Then followed quite a long period of rest and recuperation at home, first using a walker, then a cane, and then came the day when she walked by herself. (Praise the Lord!) In many ways she has not fully recovered, but is doing her housework, and was able to take a short trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan this past September, and would you believe, we found and brought home from up there five old gas engines! The writer also went through some setbacks this summer healthwise, but as of now is getting along pretty well.

Now we look at some of the blessings of the past year. On December 15 we had been married 45 years, but it was December 29 before we could get all of our family together for the celebration. Our oldest had to fly from California; the second from Illinois; the third from our own state; and the last son, Roger, who stays at home. If we had tried we could not have picked worse weather for an anniversary party. It snowed, it rained, it sleeted, and then rained some more. In spite of the weather, 120 of our relatives and friends gathered in our church basement to wish us well, and we thank the Lord for that happy occasion. I have always said that best thing an old 'engine nut' could ask for is a patient and understanding wife, and the Lord has been good to me there.

Now to the engine part of our storyin August of 1977 my wife, son, Roger, and I went to the Buckley show near Traverse City, Michigan. It was there that Roger saw his first model gas engine and fell in love with it right then. A word of explanation is in order regarding our son, Roger. He is 33 years old, totally deaf, and the victim of cerebral palsy. He had never been too interested in large engines, but that little model at the Buckley show stole his heart. He was determined to buy it right then, but the price was $800 which was out of our reach by quite a bit. On the way home that night I told him I would try to build one for him and try to have it done by Christmas.

Little did I realize what I was getting into. I did have a fair amount of tools in my workshopdrill press, old lathe, welder, etc., but was short on 'smarts' having been a repair welder for over 40 years. I thought it would be a snap to build a small engine but I soon found out it was a whole new ball game.

I had no problems at all making big and little projects out of steel, either with the torch or welder, but when it came to machinery a 1/4' pin plus or minus 2 thousand, I was sunk. But as they say, where there is a will there is a way, so very slowly the little engine took shape, 17' long, 9' flywheels, 1.95 bore. I fabricated the entire engine from steel, except the crankshaft and timing gears. Well, needless to say, I did not finish by Christmas, but did have it all done and running by February 1, 1978, a total time of about 800 hours.

I will never forget the time we started the engine. Roger was in the shop with me and when it began running he jumped off the ground and his feet have not hit the floor since! He was the proudest member of the River Bend Steam and Gas Club at our last show this past July. The club honored Roger by putting his engine on the brass tags that were given out to all exhibitors. I said when Roger's engine was finished that I would never, never, build another one, but I guess model making is kind of a disease, so engine #2 is well on the wayjust a little bigger21/8' bore, 3?' stroke, 10?' flywheels. I am trying to fire this engine with an igniter rather than a spark plug, but am finding out that my big fingers are too big for such fine work. The igniter will fit inside of a 3/4' pipe when done.

A sad thing happened this summer when a young member of our club was stricken with multiple sclerosis. He is the father of two small children and is now totally confined to a wheel chair. Now if some of you nice people out there in Engine Land have a spare stamp and a few minutes of time, drop him a line, will you? His address is Roger Kuyers, 7823 Pierce Street, Allendale, Michigan 49401.

I guess that's it for now. As my wife is no longer able to use a typewriter, I will take this over to our good friend, Ruth VanHuizen, who will type it for me. She and her husband, John, own the part of our showground where the small engines are displayed. See all you nice people at the show this summer. Have a happy and healthy new year.