Talmadge Splawn,520 E. Lee Street Bessemer City, North Carolina 28016
We thought you might be interested in seeing the efforts of four very different individuals-a carpenter, a body man, a bulldozer operator and a sign painter.
It all started at the end of engine show season in our area. Tarn Splawn, the carpenter in our group, came up with the wild idea that we could build the J & E from a set of plans he had seen advertised in GEM. Before you knew it, we decided to build not one but five engines, and ordered the plans as fast as possible.
We received our plans in November of 1989 and saw right away that Tarn didn't have enough equipment in his carpenter's shop. Our next step was to order a small shop task machine from P&M Research, which also advertised in GEM. After getting all our equipment together, David Ford, the body man, was put in charge of plans and instructions. He was the logical choice because of his prior work in a machine shop.
After hour upon hour of instruction, we were finally making parts and believe me, five engines require a lot of parts. It was almost a full time job keeping up with them, what with friends dropping by to watch and grandchildren under foot all the time. There were a few modifications made to the plans. We decided to have the flywheels cast at our local foundry. Overall, we felt this was the best way to go. The big day arrived when we were finally ready to begin assembly.
This all sounds so easy, but each and every step began with a discussion, followed by debating, which soon turned into a full argument with lots of cursing. Several times we reached the brink of an out and out brawl, but we never crossed that line, thank goodness.
Month after month we would grind, weld, sand and paint, with lots of the above thrown in, and on September 9, 1990, we were finished.
Under the direction of H.C. Lankford, our bulldozer operator, who knew the ins and outs of entering shows, we made our first appearance at the Cleveland County Fair in Shelby, North Carolina. I can promise you that not a single person there was as happy as the four of us. The engines are our pride and joy and we show them off every chance we get.
All four of us have been affiliated with the Volunteer Fire Service. The picture above was taken at their annual barbecue in Bessemer City.