The Beginning of a Tradition


| August/September 1994

Young 1-724 Otaka, Tako-Machi Katori-Gun, Chiba-Ken, Japan 289-23

I returned to the states in January 1993 to attend the annual installation of officers of my engine club, Western Antique Power Associates, located in the San Gabriel area of southern California. At that time, several members showed me the copies of a Gas Engine Magazine article written by Chris Madeley, a citizen of U.K. who also lives in Japan.

Madeley wrote about and had pictures of a Japanese engine club located on the island of Shikoku where he had previously lived. I contacted him in Tokyo when I returned to my home in Chiba, an hour or so east of there. Eventually he and two other old engine enthusiasts visited my place and succeeded in getting one of my Japanese finds in running order while I was inside teaching.

Having learned that at least one old engine can be located for every fifty Japanese farmers queried, I now ask all new acquaintances, even non-farmers. One rural friend suggested that I bring my engines to the nearby annual Imo Matsury (Fall Sweet Potato Festival held in November), so the local populace could have a look. I did. Many old gents were attracted, some with interesting stories to tell. All were surprised that the cranking handles had been removed, that the engines were started by pulling through on the flywheels. Several did mention cranking mishaps they had known.

Sure enough, before the event was finished, several clues were given as to the whereabouts of engines. A junior high school teacher said there were two in storage at his school that were unwanted and the principal would be happy to have them hauled away. Needless to say, he was quickly obliged. They were complete and in fairly good condition, having been stored inside the school for many years.

I will follow up on another lead in an adjacent prefecture soon.