My Wife's Thompson Tiger

| July/August 2001

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 engine.

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!