Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bessemer Mailbox Engine Update From Gary Bahre

Our friend Gary Bahre sent a photo to stir our hearts tonight.

The (extremely) rare two-stroke engine is moving along much faster than Gary thought it would, and this week the cylinder, piston, and rod are going to a machine shop for some serious surgery.  If we had kept this engine, it's future would be going nowhere. We always seem to have something more important than working on our old iron, and the Bessemer would be holding up a mailbox forever if we kept it.

I found this old engine near Blaine, Kentucky when Susan and I were newlyweds.  I spotted it as I went to a timber marking job with my co-workers, and went back after work with Susan to check it out.

It was up one of those hollows between Blaine and Martha, behind a ramshackle barn, and it didn't have a speck of paint on it.  The water jacket was brazed together because it had been frozen, and the connecting rod was broken.  The owner told us that it had been used to power a sorghum press, but it broke down and had been sitting for decades.  I offered him $50, (should have started lower), and that wasn't enough.  I didn't have any more disposable cash, so I threw in my Buck Stockman knife, and he liked that.  Susan and I took the cylinder off and backed the AMC Rebel Wagon up to it.  I picked up one side and she put bricks under it, and then we did the other side.  We got it up to the level of the floor that way and shoved it in.  I don't know why it didn't fall over and kill both of us, and I don't remember how I got it out when we got back to Prestonsburg.

We slapped some paint on it so the landlord wouldn't kick us out..

..and it followed us to Southern Illinois in 1980.  It became our Mailbox Engine in 1992, and that is how it was discovered by Gary Bahre.

Stay tuned for more updates on this unusual and rare engine!  By this time next year we should have photos and video of the old girl in action.

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