DESERT ENGINES


| January/February 1992



Towed Road grader

3818, White Sands Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

This towed road grader, which is about 60 to 70 years old, was built by J.D. Adams and Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana. The ID plate on it reads 'Adams Leaning Wheel Grader #10.' The serial number is 8751. According to Buff, it was used in the early days to grade out many of the roads around here that are now concrete ribbons of high speed traffic. There is another plate on it that indicates it was sold by Brown Bevis Co. of 470 E. Third Street of Los Angeles. Can any reader add to this?

As a new subscriber I am particularly fascinated by GEM articles about the almost detective-like efforts people go through to find engines and/or parts, and then authentically refurbish them. The articles I've read are generally from east of the Rocky Mountains, and particularly from the Midwest. I don't recall any articles from desert writers, although the desert can be a 'mother lode' source of old engines. As a Mojave Desert dweller, I'd like to relate some of my experiences with old engines.

This cement mixer was a very recent addition to Buff's collection. It has a Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP, 475 r.p.m. Z engine on it. The engine is pretty complete, however it is frozen up. There is no magneto on it either. The mobile frame that the engine and the mixer sit on was made by the Spence Co. of Waterloo, Iowa. It had a wooden tongue on it for towing that was in pretty bad shape, and Butt has it off in preparation of making a new one. I see no reason why, once the engine is running again, it would not make cement as well as it ever did. The photo at right shows Buff and my 8-year-old daughter, Erin.

The principle use of the old one-lungers revolved around mining and related activities. Prior to the arrival of the Marine Corps in the town of Twenty nine Palms, California, for instance, the area's economy was driven in large part by mining. Since coming to the desert, I've noticed what I call the 'desert syndrome.' This syndrome generally consists of never throwing anything away and letting it pile up in your yard. Amazing what you will see in yards.

The other day, for instance, I stopped at a yard containing an old tractor which had metal wheels on it. I had been meaning to stop for months and I finally got around to it. I introduced myself and asked the owner if I could look at his tractor.