From Drab to Dynamite

A lot of TLC turns a run-down Domestic mud pump into quite a looker


| August / September 2008



The elderly gentleman at the parts counter had stopped in to get some things for his Allis-Chalmers B tractor, but when he inquired about the oil field engines outside, the gals behind the counter paged me.

There is frequently a big engine or two sitting with the farm machinery on the lot of my equipment dealership near Sandy Lake, Pa., as I tend to unload my latest treasures there. They often sit patiently until I can get a chassis with wheels or a sled under them to either bring them in to work on or take them home for storage under a roof. On that day there was a 12 HP Bessemer and a 20 HP Franklin Valveless residing among the tractors and implements. I have found that a big engine outside along with my restored vertical Nelson Brother’s kick-start and 2 HP Simplicity in the showroom are great conversation starters, and my ensuing chat with this gentleman held some promise. He left me his card with an invitation to come see his collection. He also mentioned that he had a

Domestic mud pump that he might be willing to sell.

The elderly gentleman at the parts counter had stopped in to get some things for his Allis-Chalmers B tractor, but when he inquired about the oil field engines outside, the gals behind the counter paged me.

Meeting the Domestic 

A few days later found me touring his buildings and surrounding acres admiring his assortment of trucks, engines, tractors, earthmovers and other relics. The very last item he showed me was the previously mentioned Domestic, mostly hidden under a makeshift lean-to with a tattered tarp over it for added protection. Only the front end was easily visible and I could see it had both the builder tag and the jobber tag on the hopper. With some cautious acrobatics I was able to squeeze in alongside enough to see that it was very complete and mounted on a factory cart with twin mud pumps behind it driven by a walking beam between them. The entire machine was painted a drab orange color but was not rusted or stuck. The engine turned freely and came up on compression, and the WICO EK still gave off a good spark. He had told me ahead of time that the gas tank area of the engine base was cracked open and now pointed out the damage while suggesting how it might be repaired. He named his price and we shook hands on it. I had my trailer along but he was too tired to load it and said I would have to come back another day. In the meantime, he promised to look for the missing muffler that he thought was in the main building somewhere.

A few weeks later I was riding shotgun with my winch-equipped small trailer in tow and a willing son-in-law driving. We had no trouble loading the Domestic. Unfortunately, the seller had been unable to locate the errant muffler. Son-in-law Shawn strapped the rig down while I paid the man and took a picture of it at his request. It was the first time in many years that the engine had been fully exposed, and I later mailed him a copy.