Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

By Staff
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Bob and engine before cleanup.
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After cleanup.

206 Chestnut Street, Slatington, PA 18080.

I remember the first time I saw her- my heart skipped a beat. I
knew right then and there that I had to have her. No, I’m not
talking about a woman but a 3 HP Domestic side-shaft gas
engine.

My dad, also Bob Smith, has had engines for about 20 years, but
they never really interested me. At least, not until I went with
him to a show at Kinzers three years ago and saw my first Domestic
engine. I knew then that I had been bitten by the bug. That same
fall I found and restored a 1? HP Domestic with a mud pump on it.
Time to start looking for another one!

I always check the ‘for sale’ ads in the GEM and the
newspaper ads and sales. Early this past June there was a public
sale ad in our local paper that caught my eye. One of the items
listed was a 5 HP gas engine, so I waited for the following Friday
to see if they would give more information on it. To my dismay the
ad only appeared that one time. With directions in hand, I left
home to check it out. Thirty minutes later I was at the sale
location where I found out that it was to be a two day sale. They
were going to sell the contents of the country store that evening
with the remainder being sold on Saturday. I found the person who
was having the sale and introduced myself. I told him that I was
interested in the engine and asked if it would be okay to see it.
He pointed me to a small washhouse and said it was inside. I opened
the door and couldn’t believe my eyes! There, in the far
corner, sat a 3 HP Domestic – which brings us back to the beginning
of the story.

When I got home that night I called my dad and told him what I
had found. Being a little short on cash (or so I thought) to buy
the engine, I offered to go half and half with him on it. Saturday
morning we were at the sale an hour before starting time. As we
were looking the engine over, the man that I had talked to the
previous evening came over and introduced himself as the nephew of
the engine’s owner, Mrs. Christman. He told us that the engine
was bought by the Christmans in the late twenties from Mrs.
Christman’s brother. Also, that the engine was used on a
lineshaft to power two wooden wash machines and a grindstone, and
to pump water from a well for the washers. He said the engine was
last used in 1952 when the Christmans put electricity in the
washhouse.

When the engine came up for sale there was only one other
bidder. We got it for a very reasonable price, due to the fact that
the nameplate was missing. If it had been advertised as a Domestic,
I know that there would have been other engine buffs there.
Sometimes you just get lucky!

After getting her loaded, we headed for home. We decided to keep
her at my dad’s house because he has more room, but we stopped
first at my house to show my wife our prize. Telling our tale of
acquiring the engine, she said we looked like two kids on Christmas
morning. Once unloaded, I was anxious to see if we could get it
running. We hooked up a battery, dumped in some gas, opened up the
relief valve and turned her over to get gas in the carb. On the
first spin of the flywheels she was off and running. We just stood
in amazement and a cloud of blue smoke. After a week of cleaning,
the original paint color and stripping came through. We did a much
needed valve job and she ran like a clock. The only missing parts
were the nameplate and crank guard.

A friend of mine who also likes Domestics told me to look for
numbers on the end of the crank. He gave me the phone number of Don
Kirkpatrick whom he said has records on Domestic engines. I called
Mr. Kirkpatrick and he told me that our Domestic is a 3 HP shipped
8/28/08 on skids to L. F. Grammes & Sons in Little Gap – only
two miles from where I live. It was sold almost immediately to
Lewis Moskowitz of Little Gap. He was a brother of Mrs. Christman.
The engine was probably taken to a local blacksmith shop and put on
its unique buggy.

In the last three years I have met a lot of interesting people
at various shows including Don Kirkpatrick, this past summer. I
would like to thank everyone for all their help and information,
and I hope to be able to do the same for others.

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