Iron Strike in Africa

Parker Plant

#1: The so-called Parker Plant.

Cris Nystrom

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Text and Photos by Cris Nystrom, 1764 South River Road Autryville, North Carolina 28318 Additional photos by Billy Cox, 5609 Birch Road Fayetteville, North Carolina 28304

Yea, verily, we go off to Mozambique, Africa, once again. Once again iron collectors find time in an exceptionally busy schedule to hunt for, photograph, and recover some old iron treasures. Our travels in Mozambique pretty much covered the country's length and breadth. A quick look on a world globe shows that Mozambique is about 200 miles wide by 1600 miles long. It is located just north of the Republic of South Africa (also visited, with no luck) on the African east coast bordering the Indian Ocean. Enough geography!

Billy managed to get to Tete, Mozambique, which is on the northwestern border with Zambia. He found numerous steam traction engines and other steam powered devices.

In the same area, Billy also found a 'Parker Plant,' photos 1 and 2. Once again it is unknown what it did. However it may have had a cylinder mechanism looking at the extended concrete pad toward the front of the machine.

Mechanics in Mozambique are among the most ingenious and creative, being able to repair anything with next to nothing. Billy's last find was the remains of a Ruston Diesel assembly manufactured in Lincoln, England. See photos 3 and 4.

On the way to the South African border zone, I found a dump filled with iron engines, tractors, and irrigation pumps. This area isĀ  infested with bandits and is generally referred to as 'No Man's Land.' Mozambique is building a modern multilane highway to replace this treacherous road, and it should be operational in the next year. Photos 5 through 8 show some of the treasures to be beheld. I suspect if one was Bill Gates wealthy, the whole lot would be an interesting haul.

At the Rezano Garcia border crossing area at the South African border, I mean on the border, there lies the tractor that I had been told about two years ago. Is it in Mozambique or South Africa? I guess if I could get a tow dolly and a truck and I hauled it away, I could see who arrests me. Well, may be not. I nimbly 'plucked' this photograph (#9) from the window of my vehicle as I passed by. I would be interested in someone telling me what type it is. It is a rather compact tractor.

Photos 10 through 14 are of my first flywheel engine. It is a Deutz engine of about 5 HP. It has a 4 x 6 inch bore and stroke. It weighs right at 500 pounds. The serial number is 103755. The builder's plate has been removed. I do not know the model. It powered a generator at the Maritamo Club on the Costa Del Sol Avenue in Maputo, Mozambique.

Other information on this engine can be found in GEM December 1997 issue. It took two years and four trips to Mozambique to negotiate the sale and transportation of this engine home. The length of time it sat at the 'Petromoc' gas station, about two miles from the Presidential palace, has contributed to a number of restoration problems. The gas station is on the shoreline of the Indian Ocean. It sat unprotected. A number of items really rusted up, over the last two years. It had been inside a building prior to its move in 1997. In September of 1998, Billy and I finally tracked the owner down for a final offer. My offer in early 1997 was politely refused since he, the owner, had no idea of its relative worth or what an American was going to do with it.

Nevertheless, my second offer was gladly accepted. Now, Billy and I were somewhat less than smart on how much one of these things weigh. I figured 200-250 pounds. Nothing a couple of strapping young men couldn't lift.

We were terribly wrong! We could not even lift one end of the engine! Finally after enlisting the aid of seven burly Mozambicans, I paid them a day's wages each to put the engine in the back of the truck. In less than two minutes the engine was loaded and every one was extremely happy.

The engine was unloaded at our house in Maputo for breakdown and crating. It was easily unloaded by placing a HUGE ball of air bubble wrap on the concrete floor and toppling the engine carefully onto it. It worked and it was gentle. The engine was soaked for a few days with cans of penetrating oil, disassembled, packaged, and made ready for a trip home.

Finally, on the 20th of October 1998, the engine and I arrived home from a rather long and wearisome flight. It is now in my garage undergoing restoration. I would like to hear from anyone with information on this engine. Hopefully, we can see another article on its new life.