Our Cushman Engine

Content Tools

6247 Euclid Cincinnati, Ohio 45236

One year, maybe 1928, our farm near Coffeyville, Kansas, was so wet that it was impossible to cut our otherwise beautiful wheat crop with the binder: The bull-wheel meant to drive the works would slide through the mud leaving a big ugly furrow. This caused the horses great effort but cut no wheat at all. I was a useless bystander, age 9.1 didn't quite appreciate the severity of the emergency but I could tell from my father's sincere, loud, and colorful comments to me, to God, and to the horses that things were not going well.

He told me to un harness and release the horses to more profitable grazing in the south pasture while he went to Coffeyville in our Chevy. He finally returned, cooled down enough to help finish the milking and feeding.

Next morning, he said, 'Let's take a little ride.' I jumped at the chance since we rarely got to leave the farm except for Saturday evening shopping in Coffeyville. We picked up a neighbor and headed north. Eventually, we arrived in Fort Scott, some 100 miles away. He treated us to a late lunch, a 20-cent Blue Plate Special in a Fort Scott cafe. I thought this was great since it was my first restaurant meal.

Father had a talent, which I suppose all farmers have, for nosing out needed deals. How he knew we should go to Fort Scott to find our Cushman has always been a mystery to me. My greatest regret is that I didn't ask the oldsters more questions.

We drove to a farm and, after considerable haggling, the Cushman was installed in my seat in our Chevy. Father and the neighbor kept the front seat. I got what was left.

The next day Father, who was as good a mechanic as he was cusser, soon had the binder bull-wheel sitting on and bolted to a 2 x 12 inch, 7 foot long plank. The plank acted as a sled and enabled the horses to pull the binder through the mud with little effort.

By the end of the following day the Cushman was securely mounted on the binder and coupled via a chain drive to the sprocket gear which had been driven by the now decoupled bull-wheel. A trial, with no horses, showed the Cushman could drive the binder machinery at the proper speed with no apparent problems. I forget whether there was a clutch. In fact, I didn't know what a clutch was.

By the next day we were in business, with Grandfather and I shocking the wheat and father running the horses, the engine, and the binder with little hindrance or delay from the still very sticky mud.

After our harvest was saved, and it was apparent that we wouldn't starve to death this winter, Father went on to other neighboring farms with our binder, thus providing a small boost to the economy of our tiny corner of the world. By the end of the season, the trailing end of the 2 x 12 plank was worn to zero thickness. The engine ran fine during the two or three weeks when it was most needed.

I forget what happened to the Cushman afterward, but it is probably not worth looking for.