Flower Bed Engine


| September/October 1995



West Coast engine

39443 Glen Road Yucaipa, California 92399

A chance meeting at an associate's place of business with one of his customers led to a once in a lifetime find. We were talking about hobbies and I mentioned that I collected antique engines. He told me he ran across one in somebody's front yard not six miles from where I live. They were using it for a yard ornament and he thought it was a West Coast engine. He asked the owner if it was for sale; it was not!

I checked Wendel's American Gas Engine book for a description of the West Coast, but all I could find was a reference to it in the manufacturer's index.

I thought about it for a month or so and at one of our swap meets in February '91, I asked around about the West Coast engine. The information I got was that it is a very rare engine indeed. After hearing this, yard ornament or not I've got to take a look at it and see if it's worth trying to buy. I called Bob, the gentleman who told me about it, and got directions to its location.

The next day I decided to stop by on the way home from work to check it out. When I saw it for the first time I couldn't believe my eyes! As far as I could tell it was complete, very little rust and well protected with paint. The oilers, carburetor, magneto and fly ball governor were all there. I got permission from the occupant of the house to get a closer look and take some pictures. It was sitting in a flower bed not five feet inside a three foot high chain link fence in the front yard. He told me it belonged to his landlord and it was not for sale. This didn't deter me and I made an offer to pass along to the owner with a bonus for him if he would work the deal. This was March '91.1 would drive by at least once a week to check on the engine to see if it was still there. One day I finally met the owner and he told me the engine had been sitting outside for about six months and he ran it from time to time to keep it loose. He had painted it several times, the last time when he painted his house light blue. He assured me the offer that I made for the engine was a generous one and if he decided to sell it I would be the first one he would notify. I understood that his house was for sale and that would be motivation to sell the engine. I had to keep this find a closely guarded secret, I didn't want to start a bidding war I couldn't win. I only told my friend and engine buddy Don Wiley.

We took some time off in May and went to the Jerome, Arizona, engine show. All I could think about was that West Coast engine.