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Rescuing a 12 HP Domestic from the Bahamian Jungle

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The story of the 12 HP Domestic “jungle engine” began early June 2010. I was checking the current ads on and came across a listing of a 12 HP Domestic antique engine sitting in a scrap heap in the Bahamas. The owner of the engine, Jim Brown of Ohio, was taking bids on the engine. I was immediately fascinated by the story and called for more information. Jim is part owner in a scrap iron removal company that won a bid to clean up land on the main island of the Bahamian Commonwealth – Andros. He pays the locals a finder’s fee if they can lead workers to a scrap iron pile. He said that it’s not always the best way to find scrap and told a story of a young boy, about 12, that had twice led into the jungle to show him a large pile of iron only to find a mountain of tin cans! This same boy came back to Jim a third time and insisted he had found real iron this time. Very reluctantly, Jim followed him back into the jungle again. Much different outcome this time as the boy led him to the resting place of the Domestic. I guess third times really are the charm!

A few days later I called Jim back, after talking about this engine with my father, Marshal, and let him know that we would be interested in buying the engine. He told us the current bid, which was lower than what we were willing to spend, I made him an offer and he accepted. Great! Now how and when do we get it?

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Throughout the summer a series of tropical storms and wet weather stalled the extraction, but by the middle of August their company was ready to retrieve the engine. Below is Part 1 of that attempt as written by Humberto Boza, an employee:

“It all started on a hot summer day, going through the preliminary checking of the equipment oil, water, tires, etc. - so far so good. 

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Then with the assistance of GPS technology, we approached through an actual dirt road to the closest point to where the equipment to be resurrected and began the task of making headway through the thick of forest with a Caterpillar 966 loader in order to approach our final destination.

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With the large bucket and plenty of horsepower and wheel spin, we continue our zigzagging journey to avoid the larger trees as well as those that the Bahamian conservation laws prohibit us from knocking down.

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As you can see by the smoke on the engine exhaust, we could only inch away at times due to the thick of the forest and the wet mud and water accumulated after two days of rain. The mosquitoes were also inching their way at such unexpected visitors!

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Please observe that the finished road built is far from being considered a road, which would allow any normal vehicles to travel through. As I walked behind the loader, I recognized how brilliant the guy who invented boots was. My shoes, socks and feet bear witness to this fact.

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Then, finally as we get within 300 ft. of our destination, I get in front of the loader to make sure we do not overshoot the spot or even worse, the operator does not run over the machine, when finally, I see Jim's dream machine. I then go on to direct the operator to bring the loader around so that we can establish a clear area from where we can lift the machine without damaging it; when all of a sudden the loader stops running. I suspected back news, knowing by experience that you never want to have a breakdown when deep into no man's land.

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Then I see Leticia holding in her hand a piece of hydraulic cylinder rod that was too shiny for that neck of the woods. What is it? It is the right steering hydraulic cylinder rod which snapped into two pieces once the rod pin lost the bolt that secures the rod to the loader, allowing the rod to jump off its place and break when the machine turned left.

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Needless to say, end of mission until the loader is repaired.”

So that was the story until late October when I called Jim. On Nov. 17, we received word that the engine had been retrieved, crated and was on its way to the U.S.

More details to come in Part 2.

Contact Randy Reysen at