1408 N. Van Buren, Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
In 1789 our Constitution was adopted. In the study of history we find the influence our founding fathers have had on our lives. It changed our culture, our way of thinking and the way others see us. The internal combustion engine is a part of this history and has had a great influence on the way we have developed an American technological advancement. This technology has made the United States one of the world's industrial powers. From Otto's first engine a slow development took place with the first one cylinder slow speed engines to modern engines with a hundred horse power for every 100 cubic inches of displacement, brought about by high compression, turbo-charged and better fuel systems. These developments are some of the history we have. Time has changed our way of living with many new laws, but the Constitution of 1789 has stood the test of time giving proof that we have something sound to build a government on. Otto's engine does the same thing for the development of the internal engine. The internal combustion engine has been a great influence on the industrial advancement we enjoy today.
As we visit antique shows and view the array of old engines we sometimes wonder what motivates the restoration of these old engines. People who restore these old engines are an entirely different group of people. They are friendly and helpful in that they have this interest in preserving the old engines that are a part of history. They bring back an old engine that tells of this history of how we lived. These historians attending the antique shows are people who are proud of their restored engines and want to show them to anyone who will stop by and visit about their engine. When a group of school children come by they learn how their grandparents lived in 'the good old days.'
In the past many of the cities of the midwest had grey iron foundries and any place there was one of these foundries there was someone with a machine shop that would build a gas engine. Some of these shops built only a few engines and others built thousands of engines in various size horse power. They were made for the farm trade or marine engines for use on the lakes or rivers. They came in many 'sizes and shapes'. Many of these engines were developed to use as a source of power for generating electric current, pumping water and operating line shafts in the machine shops.
The old rusty engine or tractor out back in the junk pile is a challenge to the person who brings it back to life. The piston is stuck and the valve mechanism is rusted until they will not work. Many times after the piston is free the cylinder wall is pitted with rust until it needs reboring or a new sleeve. Where do we find a new ignitor or at least one that will work? Some of these parts cannot be found so here is where his welder, lathe and drill press come in. How do you time the ignition? The mice chewed up the instruction book fifty years ago and now it is cut and fit to get various parts adjusted. After much cranking it fires and the first exhaust is the sweetest music of the day. After some more adjustments it is running and now what color do we paint it? One fellow says it was dark blue, another says his was a shade of green and one fellow swears his was original dark red. He doesn't know what color to use so he buys a can of grey paint. Grey always looks good.
This restored engine brings back memories of past history as he remembers how he watched his grandfather crank on an engine to pump water. He would go out to the water tank and get a drink out of the pipe. It was so clear and cold and no one was concerned with how close the well was to the barnyard.
How proud he will be when he takes it to his first antique show and some of the spectators stop by and admire it even if it's not painted the right color. He knows he has a part of the history that has made the United States what it is today.
While attending the Sunday worship service at the Mid-West Old Threshers at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and looking out over the various exhibits from high up in the grandstand one realizes the history that is displayed there.