Norm Wood is not your typical hobbyist. His collection includes some unusual engines: an engine that runs backward, a jet powered tractor and an engine cut away to reveal its working parts.
“I like things that are unusual,” he said.
Norm, who lives in Norman, Okla., retired from work as an aircraft mechanic in 1990. Shortly after that he began collecting engines.
“That old bug just kind of bit me,” he said.
He started going to sales and swap meets, restoring his finds himself. Before long, he had a collection of 25 John Deere engines, including 17 of different configurations. Why John Deere?
“I really don’t know,” he said. “My first engine was a 3 hp John Deere, but there’s other manufacturers that are just as good.”
Today, the collection includes the three sizes made by Deere: 1 1/2 hp, 3 hp and 6 hp, with variations of the 1 1/2 and 3 hp models. He also has a John Deere EP, designed for use with a combine.
“It’s kind of rare. They didn’t build that many of them,” he said. “I see more 6 hp Deeres than I do the EP.”
His was a bit of a find: he found it at a sale, but it had not been advertised.
At shows, Norm likes to use the engines to provide power to corn shellers and grinders.
“I like to show how the engines were used in the old days,” he said. “And the old-timers really like that. It creates a lot of interest.”
Another thing that creates a lot of interest is his cutaway of a 1 1/2 hp engine.
“It’s cut so you can see the whole engine working,” he said.
Norm said he’d heard that a Deere factory had made a half-dozen cutaways. After he finally got a look at one, he crafted one himself.
Other crowd pleasers? Well, there is his set of “Deere Twins.”
“One runs the normal way, and the other runs in the opposite direction,” he said. “I call them the Forward and Backward Twins.”
The display confounds more than a few people.
“Some people say it can’t be done,” he said. “But the cam’s turned around, and the crankcase is sealed. You have to time it differently, and put grease cups on it, and time the mag in the opposite direction.”
Then there’s his jet powered tractor.
“Well, I saw Tim Allen on ‘Home Improvement’, and he had one with the helicopter engine on it,” he said. “I got ahold of the jet engine, and it just went from there. It screams and makes quite a racket,” he said, “but people seem to enjoy it.”
The die was cast early in Norm’s life.
“As a kid, I was always building little toys,” he said. “We have a picture of me when I was probably 8 or 9 or 10, with my first truck. It’s made of a wagon, with a cab made of Post Toasties boxes.”
Even now, the kid in him still gets the upper hand from time to time.
“Right now, I’m working on a kid’s wagon with a Honda engine on it,” he said.
For the grandkids?
“Oh, no,” he said, laughing. “That’s for Grandpa.” FC
For more information, contact Norm Wood, 10300 E. Imhoff Road, Norman, OK 73026; (405) 321-7626.