Engine Hunting Along the Bayous of Louisiana

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2204 Comanche Street, Sulphur, Louisiana 70663

It was early on a July morning on a foggy, slow running Atchafalaya River, that we launched our home made Mercedes Ben dieselpowered houseboat for our annual old engine hunt.

As we slowly made our way down this deep South Louisiana river, we passed a group of wild deer grazing along the edge under the watchful eye of a large alligator lying nearby. Around the next bend we came upon an old fisherman's camp. We stopped, and with both a French and English conversation with the 65yearold fisherman, we had some items for barter. He produced, out in the swamp near his camp, a 1919 4 HP one cylinder marine engine that he had junked many years ago. He had replaced it with one of those new fangled outboards that he has to cuss out to get started.

With money in his hand and 'a smile on his face, he waved goodby to us as we continued down the river. We too were smiling for we had found our first engine after only a few hours on the river. Indeed, things were looking good for my son and me.

That night we anchored along a sand bar and discussed which bayou we should travel. We also looked over our engine find with gleem. Morning comes early in bayou country and we were awakened by Mother Nature's alarm clocks, that is the sounds of all the wild creatures in the swamp. With a fresh pot of Cajun coffee brewing in the galley, we made our way down Bayou Jake, keeping a close watch for any sign of where an old engine might be.

By the end of our third day we had had no engine luck. However, we did have good luck with our trout line. We caught several nice channel catfish. At this point we were well into our proposed weeklong trip and the probability of finding other engines looked dim.

It was late in the fourth day of the trip, as we were crossing down the bayou, that we came upon an old sunken boat covered with swamp growth from steam to steam. After a close investigation through mud and muck, we found a prize well worth fighting for. It was a 1918 Lockwood Ash 8 HP. It had been buried in the bayou mud for many a year. We were sure that to restore this relic would take a miracle.

By now our boat began to draw a lot more water with the added weight of these two old engine so much added weight that we ran aground twice.

We were soon on our last day and nearing our destination. After raising our trout line for the last time, we pulled up anchor and went down the bayou. We were underway only a few hours when off our starboard bow we saw an old man in an old looking boat raising his fish net. After requesting permission, we came along side and to our amazement we saw a 1928 8 HP Nadler double cylinder engine.

This old fisherman said he had been fishing in the bayou all his life and had only praise for his old rusty, well used, fishysmelling engine. He said that he tried those new outboards, but being a commercial fisherman, it wore out in just one year. So he vowed to keep his old reliable engine and would not think of selling or trading it for all the fish in the bayou.

After five days and 200 miles through the bayou and river, we ended our trip hoping that next year's engine hunting trip will be as rewarding. Other than a dish of fresh crawfish jumblya, the sight of an old engine makes me happiest.