Foos-Itis: The Elusive 15 HP

| August/September 1992

  • Foos-Itis, 15 HP Engine'

  • Foos-Itis, 15 HP Engine'

2600 Shoshone Street Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401

A couple of years ago, an older fellow came into my shop to have a cracked cylinder head repaired (that's what my shop does: repairs all types of broken cast iron). As he was looking around the shop, he spotted some of my old engines being repaired, or sitting upstairs in storage, and he came up to me and said, 'I know where a big one of these is.'

He told me that he remembered seeing such an engine run when he was a young man. It had been on a ranch about 400 miles from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Before he left, he gave me enough information for me to start my quest for this unknown 'big' engine. He didn't remember the make or size, but he gave me the number of someone who might know more.

About five minutes after he left, I called the number, and reached the person. He told me that there was indeed an old engine of some kind, way up in the mountains, about 70 miles from the nearest paved road. I asked him for more information on its make, etc., but he knew only that it had still been there the last time he had been up. That had been several years before. I asked him if I could buy it, and he told me to give him some time to think about it, and call back in six weeks.

Six weeks to the day later, I called, but he was not in. He wasn't in for the next nine or ten weeks, although I called every week or so. Finally, I called and he answered the phone. For some reason, he told me I had to wait until the end of summer (seven more months!). He said he wanted some 'old-timers' to see it before it got away.

So, the whole process started all over again, and after seven months I started calling again, and again, and again. I finally got through to him, and after all this, he told me, 'No.' Well, I nearly had apoplexy, because I knew that the engine would probably just sit right where it was, until it either rusted away, or was cut up for scrap. I asked him for an explanation, and he said that while he didn't have any personal attachment towards it, it was part of the ranch history; sort of like having a family album full of people that you didn't really know, but you still didn't want to let it go to a stranger.


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