My Husband’s Last Engine Show

By Staff

3611 S. LaChance Road Lake City, Michigan 49651

Because of his love for antique tractors and engines, as well as
the fellowship of the people, my husband’s dying request was to
have me write an article for GEM about his last engine show.

Larry had quadruple bypass surgery in July of 1990. He was
diagnosed with congestive heart failure during the winter of
1990-91. He died on September 10, 1993, 2 weeks after his last
engine and tractor show in Buckley, Michigan.

After Larry was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and
could no longer handle the large tractors, he decided to restore
gas engines. Larry had already restored a United Type F 4 HP
engine. This engine had been used for buzzing wood for many years
in the Cadillac, Michigan, area.

In August of 1992, Larry bought a 6 HP United on a cart at the
Buckley show. The engine needed to be restored, stripped, and
repainted. The 6 HP was bought at an auction prior to Larry
acquiring it, and a lot of work was put into it then. The engine
came from six miles northeast of Tawas City in the Wilber area. It
was used in the woods to run a buzz saw rig.

The restoring and the engine shows took on more of an urgency
for Larry because he did not know how much more time he had left to
live. The doctors had given him a year to a year and half after he
went into congestive heart failure in 1990. He felt he was living
on borrowed time.

In the summer of 1991 I took Larry out west because he wanted to
see the mountains and do some fishing. Above all, he wanted to see
Oscar’s Dreamland. We saw the mountains, fished the lakes and
streams, and saw the collection of Oscar’s antique engines and
tractors. Much of the time was also spent deep in conversation with
Oscar. Oscar had a lot of different types of engines and tractors,
and a lot of knowledge on restoration. With the knowledge gleaned
from an oldtimer, Larry knew what he wanted to do with the 6 HP
United engine. In 1992 his goal was to restore it and return to
Buckley with it and the 4 HP, in the summer of 1993. During the
winter of 1992, as the weather and his health permitted, Larry
began tearing the 6 HP engine down. By spring he had it ready to be
stripped.

Larry worked extremely hard to reach his goal, despite the fact
that his physical strength was nearly gone. During this period in
his life the perfection in his handiwork never wavered, even though
it became increasingly more difficult to accomplish. Everything he
did had to be just so. It all had to look good, and run well.

Although I had little interest in his hobby, I worked with him
as a gopher, spray painting, restoring, and whatever I could, to
see him reach his goal. After the 6 HP was restored, put on the
engine cart with the 4 HP, and installed on the trailer, there was
one other job to be done. Both engines needed lettering and pin
striping. We took a few days and went to St. Ignace in the upper
peninsula. There a lifelong friend, Randy Becker, did the detail
painting on both engines and the engine cart.

By this time, Larry was beginning to retain fluid from the long
days, the time he spent on his feet, and the work involved in
getting the engines completed. The engines, except for some
carburetor adjustments, were now ready for the shows.

Larry was able to get to the Scottville, Michigan, show and the
guys there helped him with the adjustments that were needed. He was
tired and not feeling very well when he returned home from that
show. The Buckley Show was only two weeks away. For the next two
weeks, he rested as much as he could. As his health permitted, he
puttered a little with the engines, repositioned them on the
trailer, and got them ready for Buckley.

Because of his health, I went with Larry to Buckley. On the
second day there, he came down with a bronchial infection, and was
sick throughout the show. He still ran the engines, with the help
of friends and myself. He was tired, and at times frustrated
because of the things he was physically unable to do. Yet he was
proud that he had reached his goal. Although it was unheard of for
Larry to leave a show early, we came home from Buckley on Saturday
instead of Sunday, because of his health.

On the following Monday, Larry was admitted to the hospital, and
was there for 2 weeks. The day before he was to be released from
the hospital, the doctor took him off the I.V. drips that were
helping his heart and kidneys to function. Over the next 24 hours,
his heart began to fail and without the I.V. support, both the
heart and kidneys failed.

With our dear friend Donna Lee and me at his side, we said our
final goodbyes. It was then Larry asked that I write this article
for GEM, as his final goodbye to the friends and acquaintances who
shared his fondness for these fine machines from yesterday.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines