| March/April 1983

Rt. #1, Box 68, Buna, Texas 77612

It was a hot and humid day in East Texas when my search for an 'Old Timey' gasoline engine finally paid off. I did not know these engines even existed prior to the summer of 1968. I was on vacation to my hometown of Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, and attended a steam and gas engine show near Butler. That's when I got the bug! Most of my life I had fooled around with cars, motorcycles and anything else that had a motor and wheels. But the financial responsibilities of being a newlywed had curtailed the hobby, at least for the time being. However, at that show near Butler, I had found something that was right up my alley. It had a motor and wheels, but it didn't need a license or insurance to operate. And let's see, how many of them could I get in a 20 by 20 garage?? I just had to find one!!! Little did I know at the time that my part of the country had given up most of its gas and steam engines years ago to the scrap piles. So for several years thereafter, I asked and searched for a clue to the whereabouts of an old gasoline engine. No luck. Even though it began to seem very remote, I still held onto the dream that someday, somewhere I would finally find what I was looking for.

I continued my vacations to the Western Pennsylvania area and every summer left the area with renewed faith that I could find one. The Meadville show was near my hometown so this is where I spent the high point of my vacations. I had met a lot of people there, and had asked a lot of questions about different engines, and it was after the 1979 show, after returning to Texas that the day finally arrived. I was helping a friend from Morehead, Minnesota load his bee hives for the trip North. We had just picked up a load from the farm of Marvin Dowden, an old timer here in the town of Buna where I live, and were preparing to leave. As we drove past an old shed, which we had done several times that summer, my attention was drawn to what appeared to be a spoked flywheel barely visible above the grass. Closer inspection revealed my search was finally over. It was indeed an 'Old Timey' engine.

I returned later that afternoon to talk to Mr. Dowden about the possibility of buying the old engine. He was a widower, and had suffered a stroke several years before, but at the age of 73, he still seemed very alert. He figured the engine was good only as scrap as there was 'No Way' it could ever run again. He set his price at $7.00 cash. I wasted no time giving him his money and loaded it into a friend's truck, and headed for home with my 'Old Timey' engine.

After getting it home, I discovered that it was a 2HP Witte...badly deteriorated...but all the parts seemed to be there. I soon found out, though, that both valves and springs were only a ghost of what they once had been, and the piston was frozen tight.

The next couple of weeks were spent scraping, cleaning, sanding, painting, making new parts, and fitting the engine back together with new bolts and nuts. I scrounged up a Model 'T' coil and a gas tank, and everything appeared ready for a trial run.


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