22 Years of Hit & Miss

| February/March 1993

2165 Carroll Southern Road Carroll, Ohio 43112

It all began in October 1970. A junior in high school, I was working after school as a gopher for Steinke Tractor Sales, an Allis Chalmers dealership in Eaton, Ohio. One autumn afternoon, while on a service call, I spotted a potential working piece of art. Buried in a corner of a barn among some straw and rusty iron was an Ottawa Log Saw. Having attended a couple of gas engine shows, I knew I might like to tackle a project of my own one day. That Ottawa was a potential project. I asked the farmer if he would be willing to part with the engine and to my disappointment, he said no. Several weeks later I was back at his farm on another service call. Persistently I asked him again if he would sell it. Again, he said no.

Within a week of my second service call, the gentleman met me at Steinke's and told me I could tow the engine off for twenty-five dollars.

The following Saturday afternoon, with my 1953 Studebaker pickup truck, I loaded up my Ottawa log saw. After removing the straw and debris from the engine, I began questioning the wisdom of my purchase. After all, I had spent a whole week's earnings on a pile of rust and cobwebs, with no knowledge of what an Ottawa log saw should look like. It was all the farmer and I could do to load that 400 pounds of rust and cobwebs into my truck.

Upon examination at home, I found that my dream engine had no gas tank, and both running boards were rotted and broken. Thankfully, all the mechanical parts were present. However, the engine didn't run and, to my best estimation, hadn't run in twenty years.

After one week of tinkering, which included tearing the magneto apart, I was able to get the Ottawa running, but the engine didn't have enough power to run the saw, so I began to experiment with the timing. That proved to be a grave mistake. Once, while cranking it over, I forgot to retard the timing and received a mouthful of hand crank as the engine fired before top dead center. Bruised and discouraged, I placed my project in storage.