Les’s Engine

By Staff
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3611 LaChance Road, Lake City, Michigan 49651

I have been sitting here staring at the typewriter keyboard for
the past ten minutes, trying to think of what I want to say. This
machine won’t help me at all. I don’t have a very smart

When a picture of this little Briggs and Stratton, Model PB,
appeared in the Reflections column of the March 1991 issue of GEM,
I didn’t know what it was. I would like to thank the thirty-two
people who wrote me with information. THANKS!! And a special thanks
to Ed Kinch of Kinch Machine, West Branch, Michigan, for the valve
job and the special help he gave me.

I have been in the insurance business for more years than I care
to think about. Most of my business has been with farmers and
retired farmers. During the early sixties I could have had numerous
engines and tractors just for hauling them away, or for junk price
at most. But having been raised with tractors that wouldn’t run
and assorted pieces of equipment that were worn out by the time we
got them, I sure didn’t need any more JUNK at that time! What
was it that someone said about ‘too soon old and too late
smart?’ Over the past seven years since I became interested in
old iron, I have picked up some from my business contacts, but the
easy pickins are gone.

Over the years, many of my clients have become friends. This was
the case with Les Belcher and his wife Betty. Les and Betty
hadn’t been clients very long before I found that Les had quite
a few engines. After drooling on them I tried to talk him loose
from them. No dice! He said the engines were going to his sons when
he was through with them. Having met his boys, I believe these old
engines will have a good home for some time.

I picked out two engines, a two cylinder ten horse Novo hopper
cooled and the little Briggs or whatever it was (kind of the dregs
of his collection) and told him that if the kids weren’t
interested in those I would like to buy them. He just grinned at

In December 1990 I was in the hospital for the third time with
congestive heart failure, feeling quite sorry for myself as I tend
to do from time to time. On the third day I was able to walk down
the hall dragging my dancing partner (I.V. stand). Lo and behold!
Two doors from me I see Les Belcher’s name. I went in to see if
he had fallen out of a tree again. Last year, at the age of seventy
six, he was picking apples, his ladder turned over and down he
went! Two cracked ribs, but he’s picking apples the next day!
No apple trees. He had just found out he had leukemia and the
doctor had given him about six weeks. I didn’t feel quite so
sorry for myself about that time. He said if I still wanted those
two engines, I’d better come down and get them as soon as I
could. Two weeks later I picked them up and had my last visit with
Les. About ten days later Betty called me and told me Les was gone.
Sometime later I was talking with Betty and she told me she had
asked Les why he let me have those engines, and he said he just
wanted me to have something of his.

Les kept all his ‘goodies’ indoors, so I didn’t have
much to do to get the PB running. Ed Kinch did the valves for me;
the bore and rings were good. About all I did was clean it up and
paint it. The green is about the shade that was on it when I got
it. One of the people who wrote said it likely had come off a
Bolens garden tractor. The red is just to make it ‘purty’.
No shroud, and the gas tank isn’t original. If I can pick these
up at a swap meet sometime, fine. Until then I’ll show it as
is. So you Briggs and Stratton men, you just put your checkbooks
back in your pocket. This ain’t for sale!!

Les not only had a machine shop, but he also had a complete
woodworking shop. He didn’t make the usual lawn furniture and
stuff. He made some of the most beautiful dulcimers you ever saw,
and banjos and grandfather clocks! His last project that he
finished just a few days before he died was a Merry Go Round Pony.
There is a picture of it above.

There is nothing ‘special’ about this engine, but Les
was ‘special’ to me and to others he helped. Around the
country there are many Les’s (whatever their names may be), who
have taken the time and patience to try and educate us ‘know
nothing’ younger people coming into the hobby. Many times these
people don’t get the credit they deserve. Thank you for the
help you have given.

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