| May/June 1980

Virginia, Illinois 62691

One time when I was a kid I got a bunch of empty wooden spools out of mom's Singer sewing machine drawers. I put a nail through the hole in the middle and nailed them all over the back of the chicken house. I didn't nail them tight, but left them loose so they would turn. Next, I put a string or rubber band around one spool and then another till I had them all connected together. I then put a nail in the outer edge of one of the bigger spools and used it for a crank. As I cranked one spool round and round, it turned the next, and the next, until every spool on the back of the chicken house was turning one way or another. It was sure pretty to watch. I cranked those spools till I had a blister on my finger.

I enjoy mechanical things even yet, especially old things that don't work anymore but could. Some of the people around here know that and tell me about some aging piece of machinery that might interest me. Several years ago a farmer a few miles east of here asked me to come look at an old gas engine beside his shed.

'It don't work anymore, but I'd like you to get it out'a there so I can mow my weeds,' he said.

Well, it was a pretty good sized piece of old iron laying there on its side with the finer working parts buried in the mud. But I agreed to 'get it out'a his weeds,' for a few dollars. A local tow truck uprighted the heavy engine and delivered it to a place beside the garage here at home.

I scraped and cleaned and found it was about a 1915 International Harvester six-horsepower engine. A one cylinder that weighed close to 1000 pounds. It had not run in 20 years or more. To get it running was going to take some time and patience. The first thing I do with such an old piece as this is begin oiling everything that moves and things that don't but should. I do that for several months. At the same time I try to find out as much as I can about the old engine and where I might find parts. It takes a little neighboring and letter writing to people all over the Midwest. I enjoy it and meet some really fine folks that way. And there are meets where gas engine hobbyists get together to exchange stories and parts.


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