1155 Carpenter Cyn. Rd., Arroyo Grande, California 93420
Many years ago-perhaps about June of 1909 in a factory in St.
Paul, Minnesota-an unusual 13 HP engine was designed and
manufactured. Its name was Stickney #6601 and little did it know
that it was on the way to becoming a legend in its own time. It
would perform many years of faithful service and go on to survive
most of its brothers and sisters who were being shipped all over
the country at the same time. Some went into mining, others into
farming. Still others wound up in a multitude of livelihoods which
were performed, for the most part, very well.
The 13 HP Stickney was shipped out west by rail freight to the
little California town of San Luis Obispo, and was shortly
thereafter on the way to a new home in the Avila Valley, some ten
It didn’t take long for Stickney to get to work. He was
attractive, strong, well built and easy to start. There were other
engines on the farm that remarked at his unusual design, but so
what-he did the job and did it well!
Stickney was given his own trucks and became the main engine on
the farm, tackling every job from pumping water to threshing
As time went on, his owner took good care of him by proper
maintenance and lubrication. His owner liked him so well that he
refused to let anyone near him with a pipe wrench-making sure that
Stickney’s parts stayed nice.
Sadly, one day, after only a few years of good service, Stickney
got word that his father had gone out of business and sold his home
to others. Little could he know that in the schedule of events to
come that this would spell death to most of his brothers and
sisters as parts would become unavailable.
Luckily, Stickney had a good owner who continued to take care of
him. California living was good for him-no frozen water hopper or
cracked head. The years went on and Stickney became an adult. He
was in his prime, and work was his middle name. His owner had
maintained him so well that he did not need any parts-even his
mains were still perfect.
Stickney worked almost continuously for the next 40 years
without any major problems. Once, while inspecting his rod cap, the
lead bearing was accidentally broken into six pieces.
Stickney’s owner had all the pieces skillfully pinned back
together with brass screws.
One day a person became careless and got hurt by not paying
attention to Stickney’s owner’s manual. In retaliation,
Stickney’s ignitor was smashed with a hammer, and shortly after
that he was replaced by a new multi-cylinder and Stickney went into
retirement. Even though Stickney didn’t want to retire, his
ignitor was badly broken and could not be replaced, so he was
pulled around behind the barn and left to rust.
Soon the ‘Big War’ came and the iron men came looking.
Stickney hid, trembling behind the old barn, while his aging owner
stalled off the would-be-killers. Stickney knew that all over the
country hundreds of his brothers and cousins were going off to war-
never to return.
More years went by and Stickney could hear other engines doing
what he used to do. He couldn’t see them, but he knew that they
would surely wear out soon as they turned over five times faster
than he ever did. How right he was.
One day, some men came over and hauled Stickney, trembling, out
from behind the barn. His cylinder head was removed and thrown in
the iron pile. The word ‘woodsplitter’ was heard and
Stickney shuddered all the way down to his flyball governor. They
wanted to make a woodsplitter out of him!
Some things in life are just not meant to be. For some reason
known only to the engine gods, Stickney was saved the humiliation
of becoming a woodsplitter. Now though his head was lost, he was
getting even rustier and mother nature had started to work on his
cylinder. His body was still O.K. though, as his faithful owner had
made sure that it had lots of oil and grease.
Stickney went on to survive the Korean and Viet Nam iron
seekers. He was relocated to a different ranch, 20 miles from his
original home. It was a safe spot, away from the scrap iron men.
His new home was also very hard to see from the main road and very
few people even knew of his existence and that he was one of the
very few Stickneys left. Little did he know that only two of his
big 20 HP brothers had survived and just a handful of his smaller
brothers and sisters. Somehow he knew that his life was not meant
to be ended by rusting away forlornly on this ranch. He had
survived his work years and the scrap drives. He had survived the
loss of his head and the smashed ignitor didn’t bother him as
much as the kid who stole his nameplate one day. Then there were
the boys who shot holes in his tin water hopper and robbed all of
his brass parts. But Stickney kept his faith and hung on through
all of these things.
In 1984 a caring man learned of Stickney’s existence and in
1985 was able to obtain him from the ranch. Finally, in June of
1988 on his 71st birthday, Stickney went into the shop to become
not the once dreaded woodsplitter, but the handsome 13 HP that he
had been back in June of ’09. He was given a brand new head,
nameplate, ignitor, brass parts, and yes, a brand new brass water
hopper to replace the galvanized tin one full of bullet holes. Last
but not least, he was painted in his original deep blue color, and
then pin striped in gold!
Today, Stickney remains as a memorial to his brothers and
sisters who perished in the wars. He has learned that his few
surviving family members are doing well in their old age. In the
future, he hopes to see some of them at shows and talk about the
old days when single cylinders echoed across the valleys.
In searching his roots, he has not been able to find any twins.
He once had a 13 HP step-brother named St. Paul, but that was long
ago. If any of his twin brothers or sisters are still alive, he
would sure like to correspond with them.
Mr. Richardson extends special thanks to Glee Berry of Salivax,
CA and to Richard Geyer, DeSmet, SD. Also, for anyone wishing to
restore a Stickney in the future, he kept a diary of people,
places, parts and data.