A Sparkling Discovery

Part one of three on restoring a 4 HP Charter-Mietz oil engine

| July 2006


This adventure started on a miserable but fateful day in February 2005. It was a cool, wet, drizzly day - the kind of day when you just want to go home and sleep. After 10 hours of being soaked while unloading plumbing pipes, I had had enough. I went home (another hour's drive) only to find that my wife was in just as foul a mood as I. She had to work in a cold office building because the heat had gone out the night before and repairs had not yet been made. We looked at each other and said, "We're eating out!" We both laughed and headed for the car.

We were eating our salads when another couple was seated near us. My wife, Mary, noticed that they were wearing western outfits. I knew that there was a dance hall nearby and told Mary they had probably been line dancing.

Throughout dinner we exchanged looks with the other couple, and the gentleman even walked by our table giving me the once-over. I had put on a brand new shirt with one of my engine club affiliations printed on the back. It was for the North Jersey Antique Engine and Machinery Club, of which I am vice president.

When we were leaving, Mary told the couple she liked their outfits. The people explained that they had indeed been at the dance hall. The gentleman introduced himself and said he liked my shirt, too. He asked me if I worked on engines. I told him I did and that I belonged to several clubs that repair and display old engines and machinery. He told us he had a couple of old engines in his yard he would like to get running. I gave him my business card with my phone number, and told him to give me a call when he was ready and I would come over and take a look at the engines. I learned that his name was Bill and he lived only about eight miles from my home in a town called Cedar Knolls.

More than a month went by before I heard from Bill. Finally, he called, "Hiya, this is Bill - the engine guy? I wanted to know if you have any time Saturday to come and look over the engines?" He said to bring my trailer as he had some stuff he wanted to give me.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled up in front of Bill's home was a small-sized (so I thought) horizontal engine painted blue and silver on a couple of 4-by-6-inch timbers that were in bad shape.