I Just Want One!

| August/September 1999

2406 E. 136 Carthage, Illinois 62321

This story has been about 10 years in the making and follows this general outline: A couple of years after I got out of college, my father, brother and I started going to a few thresher reunions, just out of curiosity. We started with a few small shows and worked up to ones like Colchester, Illinois, and Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Hearing the old engines, smelling the gas, and watching the steady spin of the wheel made me think 'I want one.' (Are you shocked?)

On the way home from one of these family outings I got to talking to Dad about how fun it would be to have 'just one of those engines.' He agreed. We talked about how to get one and I suggested, 'Maybe Uncle Robert would have one.' Dad was skeptical of the idea--he didn't think Uncle Robert would--but I could ask.

For your information, my uncle was born in 1910 on a farm near Astoria, Illinois, and has lived there on that spot almost his entire life. His father died in a farm accident on the field in front of the house when Robert was only three, and much of the equipment from that era is still there, intermingled with the machinery Robert used through his stewardship of the farm. Robert does not throw much away, so you see I get my 'packratting' tendency naturally. So picture if you would, a country farm with lots of outbuildings with lots of 'stuff' stuffing them.

A couple of weeks later, I posed my question to Robert, who thought about it and said there might be an engine out in the shed that the WD45 was in. 'Maybe if you look in back, under the scrap pile, you'll find something.' I went out, found the scrap pile, and dug, and dug, and dug. A WHEEL, I see a WHEEL! I pull and tug, getting it out from under the pumps, around the cement mixer, and over, well, whatever that thing is. Now please understand dear reader, I'm an accountant. I have very little knowledge about what I am pulling out, but I am very happy. The engine turns out to be a 1 HP Root & Vandervoort. Looking it over, it looks good. I'm not sure what all the parts do and I'm not sure I should be able to see the piston, but surely it is no big deal. I mean on the tag it said, 'For John Deere Company.' I know where they have a dealership and I can probably call them, and they might still have parts. This is in 1991 and I'm in for an awakening. Uncle Robert got the loader and put the R&V in my truck and home I went.

F & J pump

An F & J pump is found!

Uncle Robert and I.

Ya know the J.D. dealers don't have parts for those engines anymore. As time goes on I came to understand that I'm missing the head, mixer, tripping rod, etc., basically everything up front. I start going to shows, taking pictures and asking questions. On the way I met a lot of nice people who gave me advice, the names of people to contact, and ideas on how to find the parts the R&V needed. One such person is Pete Adomis from Pennsylvania, who, in about 1995, introduced himself to me at an auction, and after a short conversation, started looking out east for the parts I needed. He did not find the parts, but this kind gesture and his letters were an encouragement.


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