Courtesy of Jim Hickey, 1336 Peach Avenue, El Cajon, California 92021.
559 Sheldon Road, Palmyra, New York 14522
I have been retired for several years now and for some time I have been driving cars for a Chevy-Olds-Rolls-Royce dealer in Palmyra, New York. He buys and sells cars all over the eastern part of the United States. Most of the time he sends me after Corvettes or Rolls-Royces. I have been to Houston, Texas; Miami Beach, Florida; Ashville, North Carolina; Winchester, Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts; Sunbury and Norristown, Pennsylvania; Burlington, Vermont; Lewiston, Maine; Auburn and Indianapolis, Indiana and Iowa City, Iowa. I was a little bit leary about flying at first but now I am an old pro at that. As a former Greyhound driver this is right up my allev.
Two years ago, I flew to Iowa City to pick up a Corvette, I put a few addresses in my pocket of fellow collectors that I have been writing to. While in Iowa I wanted to stop in to see Sam Herrington in Elk Horn and Freddy Andersen in Spirit Lake but didn't think I would have the time. Maybe next trip fellows. I did get to see Walter (Doc) Schrage in New Haven, Indiana. Doc is still very much involved with Maytags. I visited Doc once before in 1973. While at Doc's place I called up Victor Lippi in Van Wert, Ohio and made arrangements to meet him at his cider mill. Having been to Victor's place before, I thought I could drive right up to his place with no trouble at all. You guessed it, made the wrong turn. I wrote Victor and apologized. When I was at Victor's place in 1973, he didn't have his 15 HP St. Marys running yet. In his last letter to me he says he finally got it running. He had to change the carburator from natural gas to gasoline. I sure would like to hear it run. I'll be out that way again sometime.
My next stop was in Sandusky, Ohio, where I met Ellsworth Weiland just at dinner time. Sure I was invited to sit down and eat with them. It was nice to have a home-cooked meal for a change as I eat in restaurants most of the time. Mrs. Weiland is a good cook without a doubt. Mr. Weiland has about 30 gas engines, 8 light plants, Fordson tractor about 1925, 2 Centour tractors, several garden tractors-Kincade, Standard, Walsh, Pioneer Red E, 1918 and 1923 Ford, 1919 Studebaker touring car, Smith Motor Wheel, a collection of 250 spark plugs and a world of parts. Now there's a man that is really involved. I could only spend about 2 hours with him, but I would have liked to have spent a whole day.
Back into the Corvette and more miles I finally got to Roy Meister's place in Fowler, Ohio. It was a little past supper time and I hadn't had mine yet so Roy's wife, Katie, made me some ham and eggs. Good too.
Roy had 6 or 7 engines. He is presently restoring an ARCO. Somebody had converted the ignition from magneto to battery, coil and spark plug. I hope he finds a magneto for it. Roy goes to several shows during the year and he says when he hears those steamers puffing away and the gas engines running he gets all choked up. Don't we all. We wouldn't be true collectors if we didn't. I invited Roy and his wife to come to the Jensen Homestead this summer. I hope they can make it. I left the Meister's around 7:30 p.m. and arrived in Palmyra about 1:00 a.m. that night. It was a most enjoyable trip.
Last year I was off and running again. My first stop was in Wingdale, New York which is about 85 miles north of New York City where I visited Dean Dennis. I called Dean from a diner, (I didn't know it at the time, but I was only about l? miles from his home) and he met me at the diner and I followed him to his place. I didn't get to see Dean's engines that night as it was after 8:00 in the evening. He did show me his collection of small steam engines that he had. I stayed at a motel nearby that night and went back to see Dean Sunday morning. Dean has 7 or 8 engines. Dean and a friend of his are putting up a building so that they can get the engines inside and start restoring them. After spending about 2 hours with Dean, I left for Smyrna, Delaware, arriving at John Reed's place about 5:00 Sunday evening. John was not home but his son, Jackie, showed me his father's engines. John has 15 or 16 engines and has 6 of them restored. Very nicely done too. I have one bad habit and that is not letting people know that I'll be dropping in on them.
Resolved to break one bad habit, I left John's place around 6:00 that evening and drove to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to see Anna Mae Branyan. I arrived in Harrisburg around 11:00 Sunday night and stayed in a motel for the evening. Monday morning I went to 124 Altoona Avenue. It was 9:00 in the morning and nobody was home. I then headed for Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and stopped in to see Helen Ament. I had a nice visit with Helen. While there I bought the first 3 issues of GEM. Boy was I ever glad to get them. Helen also gave me 2 issues of Iron Men. Thanks Helen.
Then I drove back to Enola and found Anna Mae and her husband at
home. It's almost hard to believe the work these two women do to get GEM, Iron Men and other publications out every 2 months and they are asking us subscribers to write in more material. It's a fulltime job, I'm sure. Sure, I would like to see GEM come every month but now I just don't have the heart to ask such a question.
After leaving Anna Mae's home I drove to Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where I met Harry Epler working in his shop. Harry is retired, but he keeps busy repairing lawn mowers and chain saws. Harry has 36 engines which includes several Maytags. I was quite interested in his upright Maytag as it was the type with the carburetor bolted to the main bearing, instead of the crankcase. There seems to be a lot of confusion between the Maytag and the Elgin engines. I'm inclined to believe that the type with the carburetor bolted to the bearing mount is the Elgin. Of course, I stand to be corrected on that.
Harry also has a complete PLIX home lighting plant. He wrote to General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York for any information they might give on it. This is the letter he received from them: 'Thank you for your letter, (March 18, 1974). Looks as if you have an interesting hobby in rebuilding old machinery. We do not have any history on a PLIX light plant. It was probably built by someone who purchased the DC generator from us, then put it together with driver and other components to make a small lighting system. The type SD form LM generator does appear to be of General Electric manufacturing. The serial number would indicate that it was probably built about 1920. We do not any longer have instruction book for wiring diagrams on this machine this old so any maintenance or repair necessary on it will have to be done through your own ingenuity and imagination of which I am sure you have an abundance, after 18 years experience in rebuilding things of the past.'
I hope this letter from General Electric will answer some questions to those of you who have a complete PLIX lighting plant. All I have is the motor.
I spent better than 2 hours with Harry and then headed for home. I got home at 10:45 p.m. Monday night. I drove 1037 miles but I feel the time and money spent was well worth it. I met some swell people and saw many nice machines. So fellows out there in engine land don't be surprised if Tom Jensen drops in to see you. I expect to be off and running again this summer sometime.
This little verse was sent to me by Richard R. Jerry, Hudson, New Hampshire:
With blisters on my hands And breath running short Spinning those flywheels Is one hell of a sport.
A 2 HP Sattley sold by Montgomery Wards, bore and stroke is 3? x 4. Serial number is 50261. Made approximately 1926. This engine had some good selling points: it was built using several parts which interchange ed with the Model T Ford. These parts included the piston, piston rings, valves, exhaust valve spring, connections rod (lengthened), valve spring keepers, etc. This little hit and miss engine which I purchased from Bill May is what started my gas engine hobby - I now need a bigger garage.