East Texas Addictions Sure Grow Fast

By Staff
1 / 4
Three of my one cylinder engines with Hugh Wink, Prentice and Tyler, at the Hillsboro, Texas show.
2 / 4
A Model B John Deere that was 'discovered' 18 miles from home!
3 / 4
My pride and joy: the second 1935 JD Model B that I restored, serial number 10924.
4 / 4
Grandson Michael on Christmas decoration in front of our hospital.

P.O. Box 446, Buffalo, Texas 75831

It all started simply enough: a so-called friend, Sonny House,
from New Braunfels, gave me a contraption he called a one cylinder
engine. This was the beginning of my addiction! Just to show how
ignorant I was at the time, I spent three years looking for a
magneto for the 1? HP Fairbanks Morse until someone told me that it
never did have one. (‘What are you talking about, timing marks
on the gears?’)

Since the initial learning experience, I have purchased,
searched for, been given, and otherwise acquired approximately
eight-no, make that ten-one cylinder engines. Not all of them run
yet, but just give me time and more lube.

Then, my habit took a turn for the worse when someone gave me a
John Deere tractor. Well, I was doing pretty good by now because I
had learned so much, like magnetos, coils, and spark plugs and how
well meaning brothers-in-law can sure give you a shock! John Deere
tractors only have two cylinders, so why not try to restore

I am a veterinarian in rural east Texas, and I am surprised that
I have not killed myself while driving on large animal calls
because I am now looking in every fence row and pasture, behind
every barn, or wherever I think I might find an old engine or

That gift tractor was the best thing that has happened to me. On
December 20th, 1989, Horace Epps called me just at dark to come
deliver a calf. I did not want to go because the temperature was in
the lower teens with the wind blowing at 30 MPH, and believe me, we
are not accustomed to that kind of weather! But I went, and driving
through his gate to the cow pen I passed what looked like an entire
salvage yard for old tractors. In my headlights I saw a styled John
Deere and began having visions of restoration on a larger

I was in time to deliver a live calf for Mr. Epps, and told him
to take it home with him because it would never survive the night
in that weather. When I nonchalantly mentioned the John Deere
tractor I had seen, he said he couldn’t sell it because he was
still using it, but to bring my flashlight and come with him. I
didn’t have a flashlight, but we went farther back in his
storage yard and there in the dark was an unstyled Model B John
Deere tractor which turned out to be a brass tag 1935, Serial
#10924. Mr. Epps must have been appreciative for my delivering this
calf because he said I could just take the tractor.

Earlier I mentioned that even brothers-in-law could give you a
shock; in case you are confused, I will explain. Hugh Wink is my
brother-in-law and he is also getting into the ‘bad’ habit
of collecting old rusty iron. He was helping me put the magneto on
a Model B John Deere and set the timing. The method that I use to
set the timing is to sit on the flywheel side of the tractor, put
the little finger on my left hand in the spark plug hole, and
slowly rotate the flywheel until I get the piston top dead center
and the magneto to fire. Well, I had readjusted the mag three or
four times and just about had it right. I had forgotten to keep my
eyes on Hugh-big mistake! While I was working on the flywheel side,
he was on the other side putting the spark plug wires in the mag
and threading one of them through to my side. You guessed it! The
mag impulsed, the wire was touching my right hand, and when I
screamed and jumped I broke my little finger which was stuck in the
spark plug hole!

I am always learning lessons in safety while working with old
iron. Once when I was charging a battery with a trickle charger and
working on an engine cart with an electric grinder, I heard an
explosion behind me. Yes, it can happen. The sparks from the
grinder ignited the gas coming from the battery and I no longer had
a battery. Luckily nothing was hurt but my pride.

Lessons in expense are easy to come by, too. I was working on my
second engine, an upright 1 Vi Monitor. I had done all the things I
was supposed to do to get it running, with no success. In the
meantime I had taken a glass fireplace door out to the workbench to
clean the carbon and soot off (price range of the door $75-$100). I
decided to make one more effort on the Monitor before cleaning the
door. There I was making adjustments, turning the flywheel until I
had blisters, when all of a sudden the thing fired! It ran at full
speed (why bolt it down if it won’t run?); with me trying to
hold it, the Monitor took off like a jackhammer across the
workbench, right on top of the fireplace insert and quickly reduced
it to a pile of shattered glass.

One of the greatest pleasures in having old engines and tractors
is going to shows and meeting people who share my addiction. The
first year that I was an exhibitor, the Texas Early Day Tractor and
Engine Association Show was held at Speegleville, Texas, and all I
had to show was the Monitor engine that ran away with me. I did not
have a cart built yet, and when I sat the engine on the ground,
sure enough, it would not even start, let alone run.

I became a member of that association, and this past October we
went to our permanent show grounds in Temple, Texas. I guess I have
come up in the world because I carried a Hercules engine, the
Monitor engine, and the 1935 Model B John Deere tractor. Just to
kick off the move to the new showgrounds, everything ran perfectly.
I even managed to introduce my nephew, Prentice Wink, to the spark
plug and magneto.

Last but definitely not least, I want to thank some of the best
people in the world. Those people have given generously of their
time, thought, energy and self to the preservation of a bygone era
and to helping others learn about this hobby. I earlier mentioned
my ignorance when I first started. With help and knowledge from
many patient people, I feel a sense of accomplishment that comes
from taking a discarded piece of the past and making it work

Because of my work schedule I am not able to attend many shows,
but I know that any time I can get away I will meet people who are
willing to stop, spend time with me, and share their experience.
Thanks! You are too many to name here, but you all know who you

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines