How Not To Start An Engine

| August/September 1992

Rt 2 Box 332 Clarksburg, West Virginia 26301

I've read a lot of stories on the history of gas engines and heard tales of how people used and abused them. I'd like to relate a true story about a man who still pumps an oil well with a 25 HP Reid.

Seems that this gentleman is quite elderly and somewhat too frail to start his Reid by himself. I've never met him, but I have been told that he will run rope through the well-house door and wrap it around the engine clutch. Next, he will back his John Deere tractor up to the door, hitch the rope to the draw bar, give the engine a good yank, and off it starts.

Being the proud owner of a newly restored 20 HP Patton Bros, gas engine that I have kicked, cussed, cranked and still couldn't get started, I decided to try this rope venture.

I had built a crude pump-house around the engine, so it was only a matter of prying off a board to run the rope through and wrap a few turns around the clutch. Next, I backed 'Oink' up to the engine house. 'Oink' is my trusty Chevy 4x4 truck. I dropped the rope over the trailer hitch, and tore off through the yard, leaving two deep ruts behind me.

Now I know all of you engine buffs have heard of the word 'backfire.' I was on my second pull and looking back through the rear view mirror, when I heard the old gal give out this ungodly bellow. Whiplash, recoil, or whatever you want to call it, yanked me and the truck back across the yard, past the engine house and out through the hedge like the blast from a .44 Magnum.