7900 Taylor, Zeeland, Michigan 49464
NEW YEARS, 1979, the snow is piled high beneath the windowsills
of our old farm house, the temperature is zero or just a little
above as I begin writing this.
Let us first look back at the past year and think about some of
the things that took place, some good and some not so good. As we
look back, we can ask ourselves if we met all of the goals we had
set for ourselves at the beginning of the 1978 year, and if we are
honest, we must say ‘No.’ I believe sometimes the good Lord
lets us fail just so that we do not get too big for our
‘britches’. Then too, we must ask if we did all the things
we should have done. Again, if we are honest, we must say
‘No.’ Did we turn the other cheek, as the Good Book says we
should, or did we take offense at something one of our fellowmen
did or said? Did we lend a helping hand as often as we had a chance
to, or did we look the other way and tell ourselves we were too
busy? We can only ask the Lord to forgive our mistakes of the past
year, and ask for courage and wisdom not to make the same mistakes
in the new year.
The year 1978 was a trying year for the Dalmans in many ways and
also a very good year in many ways. On December 29 of 1977 Mrs.
Dalman suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for almost three
weeks. Then followed quite a long period of rest and recuperation
at home, first using a walker, then a cane, and then came the day
when she walked by herself. (Praise the Lord!) In many ways she has
not fully recovered, but is doing her housework, and was able to
take a short trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan this past
September, and would you believe, we found and brought home from up
there five old gas engines! The writer also went through some
setbacks this summer healthwise, but as of now is getting along
Now we look at some of the blessings of the past year. On
December 15 we had been married 45 years, but it was December 29
before we could get all of our family together for the celebration.
Our oldest had to fly from California; the second from Illinois;
the third from our own state; and the last son, Roger, who stays at
home. If we had tried we could not have picked worse weather for an
anniversary party. It snowed, it rained, it sleeted, and then
rained some more. In spite of the weather, 120 of our relatives and
friends gathered in our church basement to wish us well, and we
thank the Lord for that happy occasion. I have always said that
best thing an old ‘engine nut’ could ask for is a patient
and understanding wife, and the Lord has been good to me there.
Now to the engine part of our storyin August of 1977 my wife,
son, Roger, and I went to the Buckley show near Traverse City,
Michigan. It was there that Roger saw his first model gas engine
and fell in love with it right then. A word of explanation is in
order regarding our son, Roger. He is 33 years old, totally deaf,
and the victim of cerebral palsy. He had never been too interested
in large engines, but that little model at the Buckley show stole
his heart. He was determined to buy it right then, but the price
was $800 which was out of our reach by quite a bit. On the way home
that night I told him I would try to build one for him and try to
have it done by Christmas.
Little did I realize what I was getting into. I did have a fair
amount of tools in my workshopdrill press, old lathe, welder, etc.,
but was short on ‘smarts’ having been a repair welder for
over 40 years. I thought it would be a snap to build a small engine
but I soon found out it was a whole new ball game.
I had no problems at all making big and little projects out of
steel, either with the torch or welder, but when it came to
machinery a 1/4′ pin plus or minus 2 thousand, I was sunk. But
as they say, where there is a will there is a way, so very slowly
the little engine took shape, 17′ long, 9′ flywheels, 1.95
bore. I fabricated the entire engine from steel, except the
crankshaft and timing gears. Well, needless to say, I did not
finish by Christmas, but did have it all done and running by
February 1, 1978, a total time of about 800 hours.
I will never forget the time we started the engine. Roger was in
the shop with me and when it began running he jumped off the ground
and his feet have not hit the floor since! He was the proudest
member of the River Bend Steam and Gas Club at our last show this
past July. The club honored Roger by putting his engine on the
brass tags that were given out to all exhibitors. I said when
Roger’s engine was finished that I would never,
never, build another one, but I guess model making is kind
of a disease, so engine #2 is well on the wayjust a little
bigger21/8‘ bore, 3?’ stroke,
10?’ flywheels. I am trying to fire this engine with an igniter
rather than a spark plug, but am finding out that my big fingers
are too big for such fine work. The igniter will fit inside of a
3/4′ pipe when done.
A sad thing happened this summer when a young member of our club
was stricken with multiple sclerosis. He is the father of two small
children and is now totally confined to a wheel chair. Now if some
of you nice people out there in Engine Land have a spare stamp and
a few minutes of time, drop him a line, will you? His address is
Roger Kuyers, 7823 Pierce Street, Allendale, Michigan 49401.
I guess that’s it for now. As my wife is no longer able to
use a typewriter, I will take this over to our good friend, Ruth
VanHuizen, who will type it for me. She and her husband, John, own
the part of our showground where the small engines are displayed.
See all you nice people at the show this summer. Have a happy and
healthy new year.