Once In A Lifetime

| September/October 1990

One cylinder engine before restoration

One cylinder engine before 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.