Route 4, Box 96, Brookville, PA 15825
I have read many stories about how men hunted and recovered old engines. They were very interesting and I enjoyed them very much. I have an adventure that I would like to share with GEM readers.
One of the workers I worked with bought an abandoned oil lease, with the idea of cleaning it up and putting it into production if possible. At lunch time he was telling all about it. He knew I hunted and bought old engines and restored them. He told me there was a small engine behind one of the engine houses and maybe I could use parts off it or even repair it. He said it looked like it had laid out a good many years, and if I was interested, he would show me where it was. Of course I was interested. We decided on an evening after work that we both had free.
We met at the lease, located in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, with lots of underbrush. We could not drive in because of the growth and bad roadway and many holes. A railroad ran through the lease and came within three hundred feet of the old engine house where the engine was, so we walked down the tracks a mile or so, then through very thick brush to the engine house.
When I saw the engine it was in very rough condition, but being an old engine buff, I knew with a lot of work it would run again. It was an early Economy 2? HP. We settled on a price satisfactory to both of us.
What concerned me the most was how to get it out. It was impossible to get out the road. We walked back the railroad tracks to where our vehicles were parked. All the way home my thoughts were how to get the engine out to the blacktop road to load it on a pickup truck.
That evening I put in a telephone call to my two boys, Leonard and Lawrence, to see if they were free the next evening to stop by and talk over a problem I had. As we sat on the patio, I told them about the engine and where it was, and with no roads in to it. While finishing a pot of coffee and quite a few sweet rolls made by my wife Joan, we discussed all possibilities. We decided we would take a two-wheeled dolly to load the engine on, work our way through the brush, up the steep bank and bring it up the railroad bed between the tracks. We decided to put this in operation the following Saturday.
Saturday came and it was a bright, sunny, beautiful day. Leonard and Lawrence came early. We loaded a rubber tired dolly, rope and tools in the pickup. We had breakfast and were on our way. We went to the oil lease, parked our pickup, loaded the rope and tools on the dolly. We walked down the tracks, down through the woods to the engine. We loaded the engine, tied it on the dolly, and started out with it.
It was very tough going. We went through brush, around stumps, over fallen trees, through several ditches. We finally got sight of the railroad tracks. We had one more tough job- it was about 20 feet up the embankment to the railroad tracks.
We sat down to take a good rest, discussing the easiest way to get up. We decided to go the shortest way, which was straight up, and we finally made it up. By this time we were all wet with sweat and we thought the worst was over.
We started up the railroad bed, pulling the dolly over the ties when one tire on the dolly went flat. We had no choice but to hide the engine in the brush along the right of way. We decided to go home and get Leonard's 10 HP tractor and small trailer and went back down the tracks to where we left the engine hidden. Neither one of the boys wanted to drive on the tracks. The boys wanted me to, which I did. We turned the tractor and trailer around and loaded the engine on. I drove it back up the tracks about a mile and loaded it on the pickup. In my mind, all the way up and down the tracks, I imagined I could hear the train coming, but good luck was with us. We got the engine home.
It was a big day and we were tired. Joan had a good supper ready for us and we were ready for it.
This engine was a winter's project. I freed the piston, cleaned all parts, replaced valves and all springs, repaired igniter and mag, freed the governor and did all the things you need to do on an old engine.
By spring, the engine was put together and painted and ready to run. Leonard and Lawrence came, and with several spins, it started and ran nicely. We agreed it was worth all the work we put in it. I couldn't have done this without all their help. The boys will probably be glad when I quit hunting old engines because it gets them into some strange situations, which they are not accustomed to.
I hope all GEM readers enjoy this adventure. I am sure most have had similar experiences.