The Little Engine That Almost Cot Away

Cushman engine

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3821 Hope Street Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603-7556

This story starts out, as most do, about an engine and a stroke of pure luck. About a year ago, I was working a graveyard shift at the hardboard plant of a local mill. My son was working for the Public Works Department in the town of Merrill, Oregon. He and his boss had brought up a load of scrap iron to the local junk dealer in Klamath Falls. They were unloading it when our son's 'eagle eye' spotted a scruffy looking little engine sitting on a pile of scrap metal that was due to be crushed as soon as the crew came back from lunch. So, our son trotted up to the office and asked the lady inside about the engine and she said, 'Load it up and we'll see how much you owe on it.' He got it for a more than fair price, and made a bee-line for our house.

I had only been asleep for four hours when Paula, my wife, came in and shook me awake and told me that our son was outside and had an engine for me. SAY WHAT! Well, at the mention of the word 'engine' I went flat line to wide awake in four seconds flat, a new world's record for me!

My wife could see that there was no chance of slowing me down, but she did suggest that it would be nice if I tried putting some clothes on first, before I went out the front door! Oops!

Our son said he thought it was a Fairbanks, but on closer inspection, I said I believe it's a Cushman. Well, after using a rag and rubbing off years of crud, the nameplate read Sears Farm Master, and it still had almost all of the paint on it! We got it off the truck and onto a dolly and rolled it back to the shop. I paid our son what it cost and after that I couldn't go back to sleep. Gee, I don't know why!

When I started to work on that little engine I took the head off and soaked it in kerosene because both valves were stuck. When I opened the drain plug for the sump, what came out looked more like black strap molasses than motor oil. After getting the valves unstuck and cleaning out the sump and water hopper, which was full of chaff and wheat seeds, I got it back together. I put in fresh oil, fuel and a new plug, gave it a good crank, once, twice, three times, nix! In my excitement to see it run I had forgotten to check the spark and found that the breaker surfaces were filthy. Cleaning those off and calming down a little, I tried it again. This time it fired on the first try and stayed running.

I have no notion as to what the original paint color was, so I gave it a coat of Massey-Harris red and gave the truck and flywheel surfaces two coats of Dupont Dulux black. It is minus a decal but you can't be a winner everyday. However, I wish to thank our son, my wife and my friends at Branch 21 of EDGE&TA for their words of encouragement (especially from Dan Sullivan) to get up the courage to write this article.