My Wife’s Thompson Tiger
4001 Foxrun Road Powhatan, Virginia 23130-4833
How could I have known when I introduced my wife to him as he
sat under that old oak tree that she would fall in love with him
instantly! I should have suspected that she would, though. Flyn
loves all of the other ‘guys’ (as she calls them) who live
in our barn. I guess I had no other choice when I brought him home
for her anniversary present a few years ago! She was thrilled, and
he turned out to be a real tigera J. Thompson & Sons, 4 HP
Tiger that is one of two engines my wife owns!
According to the owner of the old farm near Goochland, Virginia,
where we found the engine, the Tiger had been sitting sinking into
the ground under the oak tree since he was a boy more than fifty
years ago. The Tiger was rusted solid and was missing part of its
oiler and muffler. After metal detecting for about 50 yards around
the tree, we located the missing partsin pieces.
We soaked the Tiger in wintergreen and penetrating oils,
disassembling it easily, and heated the cylinder to press the
piston out with a 20-ton jack. The cylinder had to be bored and
required two sleeves because of its length. We fabricated the cam
follower bracket, first using a wooden pattern until it ‘looked
right,’ and then making the bracket from steel. We welded the
broken pieces of the muffler back together, as well as a crack in
the engine base, and then sandblasted and primed the entire
The timing in particular was unusual on the engine. We
discovered this after repeatedly trying to roll the engine over on
a hot, steamy Virginia summer day! The contact point was fastened
onto the flywheel with the other point on a moveable insulated
bracket on the engine’s main bearing. The time this point made
contact was varied by a spring loaded rod connected to the side of
the water hopper. This rod retards the timing, although the contact
makes every full revolution.
We painted the engine with a medium green and mounted it on old
heart pine skids with trucks underneath. We also contacted Bart
Cushing for a copy of the color scheme and pattern he used to paint
the decal on his 6 HP Tiger. Brian Bambrook had our decal made for
us from the cover of an owner’s instruction manual he had for a
Thompson engine. According to my wife, the Tiger is a real
‘hunk’ (about 1,000 lbs.), and she enjoys taking him out
occasionally to show him off at the local shows!
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