Like Panning for Gold

| May/June 1994

P.O. Box 15368 Pensacola, Florida 32514

I'm not really a fixer-uppersome folks like to get every nut and bolt right and paint 'em up. I don't restore them. I just take an old one, gunk it down, clean it up and get it running.' So says Clinton Edwards, this year's president of the Dixieland Old Engine and Agriculture Club, of himself.

Jim Townsend, a Cantonment, Florida, John Deere restorer, had interested me in restoring old tractors. Even though I have read GEM for two years, this was my first show and I was excited to finally get a chance to talk to people about old engines. I was interested in how the old engines worked and in the people who restored old engines.

Approaching The Dixieland Old Engine Show parking area slowly, I saw a line of tractors to my left, and a tent with lots of folks, which I guessed was the food area. Straight ahead toward a cluster of pecan trees, I heard a faint 'chick a chick,' and could see other people gathered. I walked in that direction and began to see a collection of display tables, trailers, and free standing equipment roughly arrayed in a semicircle under the trees.

Drawing closer, the pitch of the old engine sound changed, from the faraway 'chick a chick' to a deeper 'chuck . . . chuck.'

I stopped to look at a large old green Fairbanks Morse engine which was driving a belt to an antique corn shucking machine. The old engine 'chucked' and a little smoke poofed upward. The big flywheel spun quickly, then seemed to slow down until I thought it would quit. Another 'chuck' and the flywheel sped up again. This was the old 'hit & miss' engine I had heard about. The owner dropped a corn cob in the shucking machine hopper. The kernels were stripped off the cob and moved down a shaking screen to fall into an old woven oak basket. The cleaned cob shot out over the basket and fell to the ground. I stood transfixed. This old stuff worked! There were pistons, rods, cylinders, valves, crankshafts and flywheels, but configured much different from modern engines and machinery. You could actually see the piston thrusting in and out of the cylinder; the open connecting rod attached to the open crankshaft which ran to large and colorful flywheels on each side of the engine. Because of a lower RPM, oil reservoirs sitting atop the crankshaft journals provided ample lubrication to the rod and crank.


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.

Facebook YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265