Patience: The fact, quality or habit of being patient

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait


| January 2005



20 HP Saint Mary's Machine Co. engine

'Left: Note the original decal on the side of the engine base. Had it not been exposed to the elements for 10 years, this engine would be in much better condition. '

The saga of this engine has spread over 10 years, with several engines and tractors in between. In early 1993, a good friend showed me a beautiful sideshaft, 8-1/2-inch bore and 16-inch stroke 20 HP Saint Mary's Machine Co. engine. The engine was purchased new by the town of Sedro Woolley, Wash. Although no known records exist, it is rumored to have been purchased between 1910 and 1915. Its purpose was to pump water from the Skagit River at the old city water pump station. In later years it was used as a standby engine in the city sewer plant until sometime into the mid-1960s.

At this point in the Saint Mary's life, a prominent city industrialist acquired it. He was a member of the family who owned Skagit Mfg., makers of heavy logging equipment from 1919 until the 1980s.

The Mac Tugger was the first winch unit, or "yarder," produced by Skagit Mfg. It utilized a Fordson tractor for power - less the rear wheels, which were replaced with a cast sprocket and a chain to drive the winch. Henry Ford himself made a trip to Sedro Woolley, because, as he said, "I want to see where the trainloads of Fordsons are going with no rear wheels." Evidently he was satisfied, as Skagit Mfg. produced 1,500 Mac Tuggers. I have an early photo with a Waterloo Boy tractor being used as the winch power unit. No doubt, cost was instrumental in Skagit Mfg. choosing the Fordson over the Waterloo.

Staring with a humble $1,400 Fordson-powered yarder in 1921, by 1982 Skagit Mfg. was producing a world-famous yarder selling for $500,000. After 1991 and a couple of buyouts, the company folded.

First Look

When we first looked at the Saint Mary's, most of the original paint, pinstriping and fancy brass pieces were still intact. The only major piece missing was the governor. It was decided I would find the parts, get it running, mount it on a trailer and show it - with the stipulation the Skagit Mfg. owner maintained ownership. We had gone to their farm, selected a trailer, and were moving toward the eventual day of getting it going. This had taken about three months: Then the owner died, and all progress was put on hold. For several months we tried to purchase it through the estate, but to no avail. Eventually, it ended up being sold as part of the building it was stored in.

The new owners of the building decided they wanted to restore the engine and set it outside on the street as a reminder of the city's history. I was contacted again to restore the engine, but after telling them the cost involved, they decided it wasn't worth it. So out on the street it went.