Olds Engine: The Find of a Lifetime

After being abandoned for about 83 years, an Olds engine is retrieved from an old pump house.


| December 2006/January 2007


At a school function, my son, James, was talking with a fellow parent and our gasoline engine hobby was mentioned. The parent said, “I think I’ve got one of those down in the old pump house.”

It was a few months before we followed up on it, but on March 29, 2006, Jim and his friend and I pried the old weathered door off a pump house that had been nailed shut since 1923. Thus began a very strange and wonderful experience.

Our friend had seen the engine through the dirty, cobwebbed window. All the buildings on this farm had been maintained on the outside and kept weather-tight, but the pump house had not been entered, except by insects and rodents, for about 83 years.

Our best information tells us that the engine was built between 1917 and 1921. The farm got electricity in 1923. Then an “L” was built onto the pump house with a separate entrance and an electric pumping system replaced the engine and pump jack. The original part of the pump house was simply nailed shut. As soon as the door came off, I said, “That looks like an Olds!”



The spark plug was broken, but an old Champion X was in the room. The sheet metal crank guard was off the engine, but it, too, was in the room. The governor side of the engine was toward the window and the paint on that side is a little faded. On the filler side, the paint is as unspoiled as I’ve ever seen on a “farm-fresh” engine.

Nothing on this engine was stuck hard. The piston could be moved right away. We gently tapped the valves with an old tool found near the engine and they both came free easily.














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