Our Cushman Engine

By Staff

6247 Euclid Cincinnati, Ohio 45236

One year, maybe 1928, our farm near Coffeyville, Kansas, was so
wet that it was impossible to cut our otherwise beautiful wheat
crop with the binder: The bull-wheel meant to drive the works would
slide through the mud leaving a big ugly furrow. This caused the
horses great effort but cut no wheat at all. I was a useless
bystander, age 9.1 didn’t quite appreciate the severity of the
emergency but I could tell from my father’s sincere, loud, and
colorful comments to me, to God, and to the horses that things were
not going well.

He told me to un harness and release the horses to more
profitable grazing in the south pasture while he went to
Coffeyville in our Chevy. He finally returned, cooled down enough
to help finish the milking and feeding.

Next morning, he said, ‘Let’s take a little ride.’ I
jumped at the chance since we rarely got to leave the farm except
for Saturday evening shopping in Coffeyville. We picked up a
neighbor and headed north. Eventually, we arrived in Fort Scott,
some 100 miles away. He treated us to a late lunch, a 20-cent Blue
Plate Special in a Fort Scott cafe. I thought this was great since
it was my first restaurant meal.

Father had a talent, which I suppose all farmers have, for
nosing out needed deals. How he knew we should go to Fort Scott to
find our Cushman has always been a mystery to me. My greatest
regret is that I didn’t ask the oldsters more questions.

We drove to a farm and, after considerable haggling, the Cushman
was installed in my seat in our Chevy. Father and the neighbor kept
the front seat. I got what was left.

The next day Father, who was as good a mechanic as he was
cusser, soon had the binder bull-wheel sitting on and bolted to a 2
x 12 inch, 7 foot long plank. The plank acted as a sled and enabled
the horses to pull the binder through the mud with little

By the end of the following day the Cushman was securely mounted
on the binder and coupled via a chain drive to the sprocket gear
which had been driven by the now decoupled bull-wheel. A trial,
with no horses, showed the Cushman could drive the binder machinery
at the proper speed with no apparent problems. I forget whether
there was a clutch. In fact, I didn’t know what a clutch

By the next day we were in business, with Grandfather and I
shocking the wheat and father running the horses, the engine, and
the binder with little hindrance or delay from the still very
sticky mud.

After our harvest was saved, and it was apparent that we
wouldn’t starve to death this winter, Father went on to other
neighboring farms with our binder, thus providing a small boost to
the economy of our tiny corner of the world. By the end of the
season, the trailing end of the 2 x 12 plank was worn to zero
thickness. The engine ran fine during the two or three weeks when
it was most needed.

I forget what happened to the Cushman afterward, but it is
probably not worth looking for.

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