Once In A Lifetime

By Staff
1 / 2
One cylinder engine before restoration.
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One cylinder engine after restoration.

301 Jefferson Lane Ukiah, CA 95482

For the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of searching
for and refurbishing one cylinder engines. Like most of the folks
that read this, I ‘live’ for ‘that call.’ You know
the one. The retired gentleman up on the mountain looking for a
good home for the engine out back, INSIDE the garage. Well, about
two months ago, I was on the receiving end of such a call. Doc
Ezekiel was his name, and he lived up on Cobb Mountain. He said he
had an old one cylinder engine with two flywheels and a water
hopper, but that it was missing some parts. He went on to tell me
that maybe I could use some parts off of it for another engine. At
any rate, I was welcome to his engine.

So bright and early I set out following his directions and by
ten o’clock I arrived at his home on the mountain. The first
thing that you can’t help but notice is that there are deer,
lots of deer everywhere. Some eating, some lying down and some just
watching, but all of them are obviously very comfortable with
people. As I walked toward his door the deer just looked at me as I
passed through them. Doc and his sister, Nancy Oliver, are about as
nice as folks can be. Coffee was ready and we had a nice visit
before going outside.

On the way to the garage Doc broke about an inch of ice from the
deer’s watering trough. As I walked to the garage I found
myself about ready to bust with excitement. Then I spotted this
cute little engine in the corner, and as my heart skipped another
beat, I realized it was a Little Jumbo. A friend of mine, Richard
Mussehl, has just such an engine which my son Jake and I have
always admired. I carefully examined it and was surprised to see
that the only parts missing were the Webster magneto and ignitor
bracket. This engine still had the lubricator and even a small cast
iron muffler. I explained to Doc that this was definitely NOT a
parts engine, but rather a very desirable engine in better than
average condition. The piston was free and so were the valves.

Well, Doc said he was glad to see someone end up with the engine
who would appreciate it. I assured him that was the case and that I
would try not to disappoint him.

Years ago, Doc had sent the magneto out to be repaired, and the
shop had lost it. He had put a rag in the ignitor hole when he
removed it, so the bore was still good. With patience and a can of
WD-40 I even saved the rings. My engine friend and machinist, Joe
Zeller, put in two guides and made an exhaust valve from a Model T
valve.

In the meantime I acquired a Webster magneto and a small cart
from another friend, Gil Easter. Then out of the blue I am talking
to Gary Younie of Chico, and he has the ignitor bracket I need, and
even an extra nameplate and decals. The really interesting thing
about this engine and the parts I needed is that they all just sort
of popped up. I guess there is no real explanation. I am quite
certain this will never happen to me again. Nor would I want it to.
I’ve had my once in a lifetime experience. I only wish that
every collector could have a similar one.

Everything about Doc and the Little Jumbo is, and always will
be, very special!

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines