A Step Backwards


| November/December 1993


609 Main St. Piedmont, South Dakota 57769

I have always been intrigued by the masterful skills of our ancestors in the development of engines, machines and automobiles. For a number of years I have been restoring engines, tractors and machines and have marveled at some of the ingenuity used to develop them and make them work.

In a past GEM magazine, I saw a picture of an auto someone had built, which used a stationary engine for the power source. An idea to try to build an auto similar to what had been built years ago started to grow. Shortly after seeing the picture, I was at an auction sale and spotted the metal parts to a horse-drawn spring wagon in an iron pile. I purchased the wagon with the idea of building an auto; little did I realize what I was getting into!

When I got the wagon home and placed it up on blocks in the garage, it seemed my family and friends thought I had lost my mind. But their 'needling' added to my determination. I started by replacing all the wood on the wagon axles and frame. No wheels were with the wagon, so I scrounged up some old model T wheels which were in pretty bad shape. Tires for a T are expensive, so I decided to use 18' implement wheels, motorcycle tires, and spokes and hubs from the T wheels. I cut the ends of the wagon axles off and welded on spindles from a T. In choosing an engine my decision was driven by weight and physical size. I used a 1924 Cushman four horsepower model C binder for a power source. I modified the engine by adding a second flywheel to make it run smoother. The engine sits right behind the seat and is belted to a 3-speed lawnmower transmission. The transmission is then chain-driven to the wheels using the original lawnmower axles. I added a radiator and a fan to the engine. The body was constructed entirely of wood. The clutch and brakes are controlled by a single lever. The first time the lever is pulled, the drive belt releases. With additional pull, flat pads are engaged with the rear tires to slow the auto. Crude, but it works!

The auto will do 12 miles per hour in high gear and runs very well. Even with modern tools and materials, building an auto was a major challenge. Hats off to our ancestors who accomplished great things with little to work with. If Cushman Company had ever built an auto, maybe this is what it would have looked like. I titled the auto Cushman model #1. The state inspector who inspected the auto for the title application was at a loss as to what to inspect. His comment was, 'I don't know where to start. I'll be back after I study the manual!' Well, he did finally approve a title and the auto is licensed. Stop by on a summer Sunday, we'll go for a drive!






SUBSCRIBE TO GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE TODAY!

Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.




Facebook YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265