The Gilson Dream


| November/December 2000



Porch

October 1992: the day it landed on the front porch.

707 Crestwood Drive Marshall, Missouri 65340

This all started after a morning's worth of working on various projects in the late July heat. Dad and I decided to cool off and have some lunch. I was reviewing the August '92 issue of GEM, after eating, when I saw it right there in the classified ads; highlighted in yellow were those words I thought I would never see! 'FOR SALE Gilson 4 HP vertical.' When I asked Dad about it he said, 'I must have forgotten to tell you about that yesterday.' After discussing it for a while, we decided that it was just a dream!

After dreaming a bit, we decided to call anyway, dialing the number with no hope of it still being there. Joe was the gentleman's name on the other end of the line. After a minute or two of talking he stated, 'You're the third one to call about the engine.' My heart sank. He then said, 'If the first two don't take it, would you be interested then?' Of course my rusted blood, or my lack of good sense, told me to tell him yes. He told me if they both turned down the engine that he would give me a call. As I hung up the phone, I explained the deal to my dad. He agreed that it was just a dream.

About three or four weeks went by, and I happened to be at Dad's visiting him after some surgery. That's when Dad told me Joe called to tell us that the first two guys backed out. My first thought was GREAT! Then I wondered why anyone would turn down a prize like this? My answer soon came, when I called Joe. He said, 'It's in pretty bad shape.' With no hesitation I said, 'I'll take it!' After making the plans with Joe to get the engine, I hung up the phone and turned to Dad, who was looking at me like I was crazy. He soon agreed that we should go for it. Joe said he would send us some pictures before we had to make up our minds. (Too late-we were already hooked!)

A week and a half went by before the letter finally arrived with the photos enclosed ( a week and a half is an eternity!) Joe wasn't lying. The engine was in sad shape. He had drawn an arrow to a crack in the outside of the cylinder and wrote that there was a crack inside, also. At least the piston wasn't stuck; it was lying on the ground in front of the engine. In the photo I could see all the working parts except for the carburetor and muffler. The engine lacked trucks, skids, battery box or cooling tank of any kind. The pictures weren't top quality, but they were good enough to convince a Gilson nut like me! Again I called Joe, 'I'll take it!' Now the dilemma was how to get the thing from Maine to Missouri, a little bit more than a Sunday drive.

Joe said that he bought the engine at a farm sale in Ontario, Canada, and brought it across the border into Maine. He told me he would meet me somewhere to pick up the engine, although it was not a good time for either of us to travel. A few days later we talked again to settle payment. Joe said his neighbor, a truck driver, hauls to Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri. occasionally, and that he might be willing to haul it for us (for a reasonable fee). In the meantime, Joe sent the smaller parts by common carrier.