| September/October 1969

1442 Lincoln Drive Flint, Michigan 48503

First, Frank Fretter found it. Guess he was visiting some uncle up the other side of Chesaning -- Michigan that is. Started talking around them about old engines and someone remembered the Titan. Seems it was used on a 22' J. I. Case separator, silo filler, buzz saw, feed grinder, and such around the neighborhood. Frank, being as nosey as he is, chased it down; noticed it's fine condition and the good care it had had. A hundred bucks was more than he wanted to part with right then so he stored the idea for a while -- then told the rest of us. It wasn't my turn to take one. Engines are hard to find around here. I had just recently bought a fifteen horse Fairbanks - Morse, old separate cooling tower etc., I think something near fifty years old. It was Bill Mechems' turn and we agreed to let Bill at it. Came Saturday afternoon and we hopped in Bill's car and headed to 'Titan' country -- and Sam.

Sam was there -- an old retired bachelor farmer -- and a born mechanic, if mechanics can be born that way. We looked the old gal over. (Why are engines referred to as feminine?) All of us now agreed that the price was right that is, all except Sam. He had changed his mind -- a hundred dollars worth. Didn't have to have much reason; just changed his mind. And he wasn't wild about selling anyway. Not right now. Didn't need the money and he sort of liked to see it sitting there -- so many good memories. I wouldn't have blamed him if he would have said no right then.

I'm only middle age -- that is, if 1 live to be a hundred. I have the fondest memories of times back on the farm of the folks I worked with; they didn't all have masters' degrees or doctorates -- but they were mighty real people. We' did things together -- no one kept track of the hours he helped the neighbors. Together we threshed, buzzed, filled silo, husked corn, raised barns, doctored sick cows and horses, worked on the old Oil-Pull. It was quite something compared to my city life today of. Guess I'm off the track a bit. Bill still thought the price was all right -- Agreed with Sam to pick the engine up the next day.

My wife wasn't a bit enthusiastic about my missing church to go get an old engine and Bill's wife felt exactly the same. Bill and I argued that it was something like doing the milking on the farm. Regardless of the day, it just should be done right now. Bill is a contractor -- builds steel structures for buildings and bridges etc. He just happens to have around some cranes, trucks with booms, and all sorts of things handy to an engine collector. We borrowed from his shop what he called a 'cherry-picker'. That was a truck with a boom capable of handling several tons. Headed for Chesaning on the Sunday morning -- early. Sam was up -- a little -- but not too awake. We were both absolutely sure he would change his mind again so we got right busy fixing a sling and cables to hoist her up. In order that she might ride well and the boom ride well on top it was almost necessary to remove the heavy iron truck wheels. They came off easily after we sawed off the pins.

On the day before, Bill had said he would buy the engine if it would run. I think he was kidding about the running part but Sam took him seriously. Knowingly, he yanked off the ignitor and took it into his shop to clean it up. Might be interesting to note that he sat on the running board of his '33' Chevy, and that's what he drives to town for groceries every week, and used the running board of his 1921 Model T Ford next to it as a work bench. The Model T is in fine condition but the license is only 1938. Got some batteries and a coil and hooked them up to the ignitor to test it. My -- what a beautiful big blue spark. I just don't think anything can be quite as cantankerous as an old ignitor. There are so many places for it not to work -- for the spark to go wrongly.


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