1442 Lincoln Drive Flint, Michigan 48503
Can't quite figure the reasons or reasoning for all this intense interest in old engines. Had that sort of problem years ago, back on the farm near Hadley, Michigan. Collected quite a few dandies then - even one small 'oil engine' and a group of us had a 30/60 Rumley Oil Pull that was used for all sorts of belt work. In fact, I remember one time when George Schanck was the elected engineer, that we used it for pulling plum tree stumps. Then along came World War II and scrap iron was needed. Folks were patriotic. Engines were a bit in the way on the farm and I was overseas. So, away they all went to the scrapyard. I believe the Rumley brought $100.00 - and they ran it to the yard.
Guess I pretty much forgot about them after the war and changed the collecting interest to old guns, muzzle-loaders. This, of course, was along with getting married, buying a home, building a cottage, and finishing some graduate work at school. Then came some youngsters. Guns were fun, and still are, but the cost nowadays makes them a difficult hobby.
Last summer, while up at the lake for the summer, my teen-age son, Jon, and I got to thinking about engines - old engines. One sure thing a collector has to do is look and talk and 'get more of them'. So we did. We placed ads. Had phone calls, letters, cards, word of mouth help - just everything! Wife, June, usually made 'engine trips' with me. Some of them would seem to get so involved. And she would vow not to ever go again. Then on the next one, we would stop and have dinner some place. She still goes. We meet the darndest folks - or hear from them. One old fellow, at least by his writing I think he must be old, sent me a clipping after he read my ad. Told me about an engine in the west end of the Upper Peninsula of Mich, that had been used on a mine pump. Had fly-wheels forty feet in diameter. He thought this might be just what we were after. June didn't think so though. But we are getting a yard and a shop full of engines - some running and some not.
Until a few weeks ago, the most expensive one was $27.50. I must hasten to add that this doesn't include the cost of getting them home or the time and labor and parts for them after they are home. Guess I count that another way. No ulcers here.
Anyway, what I wanted to tell you about was the latest engine trip. Some eleven years ago, June and I spent most of the summer with Uncle Fred and Aunt Pearl in Prescott, Arizona. Uncle Fred is a mining engineer and prospector, or something like that. He just ran us all over those hills out there and under a a good many of them. One item I always remembered, sort of in the back of my mind, was going into an old mining shack of his down south of town in Copper Basin and seeing an old 'hot-head'. It hadn't run since about 1920 or so- and I believe was born earlier- but just a wonderful piece of machinery. I remembered that it wasn't rusted a bit- all free.
The engine from the back side.
The engine in the trailer with the small Novo laid across the front for balance.
Several times since then when we have visited, I've talked a little about it- just some questions. I never did dare say exactly what I was thinking, that is until the summer of 1967 when they were visiting at our place up north. Uncle Fred said 'Bob, I want to catch some fish'. I knew how to handle that. We just packed up- headed north to the Canadian Soo, turned east to the town of Massy, Ontario, gassed up and ambled about 35 miles north to a camp on Lake Madawanson, Was a good ride. Got stuck only once-water puddle was too deep- I drove thru on the right side, when June said to take the left side and the motor stalled. When I opened the door, water flowed in. Anyhow, to get back to engines- some place up at the north end of the lake when we stopped to fry some fish, make coffee, and then pick monster-sized huckleberries for dessert- and Uncle Fred seemed to be in the most receptive of spirits, I said 'How much would you take for that old 'hot-head'?' His answer? 'Why, Bob, you can have it. Just come out and get it.' Guess I said something about having some truckers go out after it - crate it -then ship it to Michigan. He didn't even hear me. We mentioned it many times in letters and phone calls -jokingly it seemed. Then one day after school was out we packed some things in the Rambler Wagon. Things such as a 'come - along', chains, a few wrenches, and of course some extra socks and shirts. Loaded in the wife and a couple teen-agers. In a few days -Prescott, Arizona. And the next day -Copper Basin. And there sat Annie. Big as life - more beautiful - Uncle Fred had named the 'hot-head' Annie years ago. We adopted the name with her.
Took a whole day to winch her out of the shack. Had to set two dead-heads to turn a corner. Took the end out of the building and rolled her on to a U-Haul trailer. Sawed off her railroad tie underpinnings at just the right length so the trailer would be properly balanced for the trip home to Michigan. Then came the long haul up over the mountain. Boiled the radiator and a few other things getting up over the steep switch-backs of that old trail. And all for an old engine?
Next morning we unhooked the trailer to re-check the balance. Knew we should have near two hundred pounds on the hitch to make her tow well. We didn't. But we knew the answer. While at the old mining shack the day before, son Jon, had been checking the rest of the contents and found a two-horsepower upright Novo in excellent condition. Seems the Novo was once used to pump air into a small mine and Annie, the hothead, was used to pump water out. Novo used a battery and buzz-coil for ignition. We just took that back to town and laid it crosswise in front of Annie and had a trailer that would ride full speed. Chained her down well but didn't cover her at all. She was one to be seen after nearly fifty years in an old dark shack.
Started for home about three, one morning, and when we stopped at a restaurant for breakfast a car drove right up beside us. Fellow got out. Informed us he had followed for miles and miles, waiting for us to turn off so he could look over the 'thing' we had in the trailer. Turned out he was an engine collector from upstate in Washington. Time and again on the way home we were questioned. In a little Texas town a policeman drove alongside at a stoplight. Told us how his 'daddy' had one something like that on the old farm back in Oklahoma. Of course I would guess he was referring to a gas engine. 'Hotheads' weren't quite as popular - or should I say oil-engines.
Annie is home now. Home in company with something over two dozen other old one-cylinder engines from one to fifteen horsepower. Her compression wasn't the best at first -- injector pump needed some rebuilding and loosening up. The injector itself released an uneven spray. Uncle Fred had said there should be an even conical spray -- or it would fire unevenly or not at all. We lapped the tip with grinding compound and tightened the spring. You see, I don't even know all the proper names of parts. We took the oiling system apart and cleaned it; hooked on a fuel tank; connected up a cooling tank, and were ready to roll.
The easiest cranking system around our place is the Ford tractor and a belt. After a fifteen or twenty minute application of the blow-torch on the bulb, and a good spin, she ran, but not at all well. Our overhaul had provided too much fuel, so instead of firing, the fuel just cooled the chamber. A knurled nut and and lock-nut to adjust the (length of the stroke took care of the problem in good shape. Now she starts 'by hand'.
Annie has been a fun-engine to date. Nothing has been handy to belt her to. Come next summer, we'll hook her up to something -- a shingle-saw I think. That's the best way to display engines. Run them and work them. A surprising number of city I folks who visit us haven't buzzed wood. We start an old one-lunger and do it. It's fun. Then they have had another experience. That's an experience they don't usually get in a museum. We're not through collecting yet. And there are many more to work on. It's a most enjoyable hobby.
My 12-24 Hart-Parr -- probably 1928 model. It has brought me many hours of fun to drive around and show off.
A snapshot of a spark plug just added to my collection. It is an Auto-Marina It has a wooden handle on it so it can be taken apart without the use of a wrench. The bottom part stays in the engine. It is advertised in the 1910 Gas Power magazine. I believe it to be a very rare plug.