Courtesy of John Smith, Box 128, Orillia, Ontario, Canada.
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.
Anyway -- by now we were loaded and busy with binding chains. Ready to exchange some cash. Sam didn't want any check, just cash. He wasn't particularly happy. Why should he be? His dad had bought this engine a long, long time ago. It must have been admitting something to let it go. And most of us don't want to admit we're finished in any way. The Titan had been such an important link during the many years when the farm would farm. The land was too poor now to compete with present day farming. And, of course, Sam was failing in health. We sort of made him promise to come over when the restoration is complete -- in fact, we'll go get him.
A very well restored 2? Mogul. Gentleman with oil can believed to be owner and restorer. (Photo by Staff of Milton Champion.)
Think I ought to tell you something else -- even though Bill and I sort of agreed to tell no one. Sam doesn't even know. We'd rolled the flywheel a bit on Saturday to see if the piston was free. It was. On Sunday we were checking it over some more. Looked under the exhaust valve and spring cover and noted it was well oiled. Being so knowledgeable of engines, I told Bill to move the wheel a bit while I checked to see if the gas pump was free. It was. An extra tug on the wheel showed what we thought was good compression. Then it snapped. We both heard it well. Hung our heads in shameful shame. You've guessed it. We didn't force the exhaust valve to make sure it was free. Just looked and noted the greasy spring and stem. Now we had a real fine two-piece rocker-arm. But it was weldable. Got a good job and it's dressed down and by now it doesn't show a bit. Have a good solid tongue on the trucks. Sam says it was quite easy to 'set' with a good team. Did work though. Going to take a lot of scraping and sandblasting. This is hopper-cooled - 30 gallons of water. Twelve horsepower and manufactured by International Harvester Co. Has about a seven and a half inch bore and an eleven inch stroke. Speed should be around 300 RPM. Serial number is NM 290. Probably some reader has a catalog or other reference material and could tell us more We would certainly appreciate it. I looked through the index of the old GEMs and couldn't find one like it. For those who use the magazine; as I do, as a catalog of kinds and information, the enclosed picture should help some. Fellow in the picture is Bill Mechem. As for the magazine, I don't miss a page of it. I'm so new at this game - just over a year now -- I don't have a collection of old catalogs and such literature to turn to. I like so much to see these things in print. And your magazine is doing a most wonderful job of just that.
Part of gas tractor line-up at Milton 1968. Visible are Rumely, Sawyer Massey, Townsend, Fairbanks-Morse, Avery, Case, etc. (Staff photo of Canadian Champion, 191 Main St., Milton, Ontario.)