91 Cedar Street, Holliston, Massachusetts, 01746
Well, there is no sense in letting that newly purchased piece of
iron sit around and deteriorate worse than it already is!
After bringing home my first engine and staring at it for
countless hours trying to picture it like many of the fine
restorations I’ve been reading about in GEM, the above
statement would finally become reality.
The piece of iron I’m referring to is a Coldwell
Manufacturing Co. 4 cycle lawn mower engine, Model Twin 30. It has
a Bosch high tension magneto ignition; horsepower is unknown.
Approximate date of the engine is 1932-1936.
Being new in this hobby and taking on a complete restoration
project can be nerve racking at times, exciting at other times, and
darn frustrating most of the time.
One of my most memorable times during the restoration process
happened on day one. Backing the vehicle up in the driveway with
the wife standing there on the sideline, lifting up the rear
tailgate on HER Jeep and reading the expression on her face. It was
priceless. ‘How much did it cost?’ was one of the questions
she asked. ‘When is the baby’s room going to be
finished?’ followed the previous question.
Trying to answer her questions intelligently and kindly asking
her to hold the doors in the house open for me was a tense moment.
It was a relief just to get it in the basement and be alone a
moment for personal mental recovery.
At this point the fun starts, getting the iron degreased and
cleaned just to discover what’s really there. Next is the
disassembly process with any necessary documentation or photos that
may be needed in the future. Oh yeah, can’t forget to count all
those parts/pieces that need to be repaired or machined from
scratch. Well, got to break here, must get that new sub-floor down
in the baby’s new bedroom.
Okay, I’m back. The engine at this point is broken down to
the last nut and bolt. I figure I best get all these parts boxed
and ready for the trip to the sandblasting shop. Another break
here, four days to get more work done on the baby’s new
bedroom. The new walls are in, the gaps in the floor filled,
getting ready for the plasterer to come by and fulfill our
The telephone rings downstairs: ‘Honey, it’s for
you.’ ‘Hello Jim, it’s Bob Berry the sandblaster. Your
parts are ready.’ Back to the engine project! Looks like at
this point that most parts are ready for priming, then setting
aside. On the other hand, I’ll need a list of parts that are in
need of machining down at the shop. Must check the calendar for
open weekends to sneak out to the workplace so I can play machinist
warrior (weekdays are impossible).
Most parts that had to be machined are finished. Other parts
still in que are dependent on the success of the previous parts
working properly. It’s time now for some re-assembly. Oops,
time to get working on that bedroom!
One primer coat on the walls, two finish coats on the ceiling.
Hey, this project is looking pretty good too! (Just not as fun).
Okay, the painting is finished. Now for the staining on the
woodwork trim. Finally finished this portion of the room.
What’s next? Oh no, the new floor tiles just arrived. These
things are a real time consumer. I’ve got to stop thinking
engines for a moment so I can concentrate. Can’t mess up at
this point. One full week passes; the new floor tiles are all in
It’s time for engines again! I’ll need to get some
paint. ‘Centari’ custom blend seems to be in order here for
this engine. Got to have that professional look. Mother Nature must
now cooperate with me on this one. I’ll need a clear dry day
for painting. Got my wish. Well, things are really looking-up at
this stage of the process. Even got a nice compliment from the
wife! ‘How long does it take for the paint fumes to clear out
of the garage,’ she asks. ‘Just a few hours, dear.’ I
think I’ll let the engine set aside for a week to cure the new
paint, maybe now I can put that bedroom project to rest. A week
passes on and it’s now her turn to apply the long awaited
finish decorations. ‘Well, Honey, the room looks great. I’m
so proud of you!’ she says. ‘Oh, how is your engine coming
Okay, folks, now I’m psyched to finish up my project.
I’ll now design up my oak cart. My pencil is leading my hand to
this custom cart creation. Three weeks pass by, from ordering the
material at the saw mill to the finished construction of the cart.
It’s time to set the engine on the new cart. Only a few more
things left to do. I finished installing the fuel tank, now
I’ll apply the final decorations. It’s complete! Ready to
start. The wife is in the family room, my twenty month old son is
watching Daddy through the front door out in the yard. The rope is
wrapped around the reel starter and pulled. On the fifth try, guess
what? It starts! While Daddy is making a few adjustments, the boy
is running all through the house yelling PUTT-PUTT-PUTT-PUTT etc.
etc. I’m just staring at it running, not believing my own eyes.
The wife is standing at the front door all smiles, didn’t have
to say a word to show her feelings for me and my pride. This little
twin cylinder engine sounds just like a model ‘L’ John
Deere tractor. Well it’s time to turn it off to check a few
things out. Now my son start crying. I ask the wife if it was too
loud for him. She says no, he’s mad you turned it off! I
laughed and finished making some small adjustments.
Finally finished. Eleven months from start to finish. One last
question from the wife as I stood there staring at it. She asks
what is my next engine deadline to calendar date. ‘Oh about
eleven months from today, honey!’
This story is dedicated to my dear departed friend, Robert H.
Valukis. Thank you for your many hours of patience with me, seeing
me through this project, and for our wonderful friendship.