Model T Engines “Have Value?!?!”

One of the oldest mission stations in Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika; formerly German East Africa) was Kijima. That station was first occupied in the early 1900s, about 1910. As a result, buried in all the accumulated clutter, there were a lot of old things from former missionaries who had lived there and left them behind when they moved. And, would you believe it, there were at least 5 old Model T engines – well rusted after lying outside for so many years.
Enter “me” – Rusty Baker – in 1956. When I first arrived out there as a missionary, I was assigned to reside with my parents who were on that station and to get busy with “language learning”. After they were moved to another station, I lived there alone until Carol became my wife. I had seen those old engines sitting around and, just for kicks, tried to work on them – but they were well seized up and many essential parts were missing.
Geography now! Between the mission station and the main road was a river and wide seasonal swamp. The rains between November and April made the swamp mostly impassable; the river often had quite a bit of water in it, even on into the early part of the dry season. Getting out by vehicle entailed getting across that swamp section, down into the river and up out on the other side. Once you got out of the river it was smooth sailing the 5 miles further to the main road.
The complication to the whole equation was getting down into the river, across the bottom of the river and up the other side. It was all black clay and very slippery when wet. It was hard to get  enough traction to make it all the way up the other bank and often several attempts had to be made.
Enter “me” – Rusty Baker! Over the years resident missionaries had put up with all the difficulties and I decided to make “improvements”. I carried rock down to line the bed of the river. For the deeper spots, I decided to use those old, rusted, no-good Model T engines. Into the river I dumped the engines. Around and over the engines I distributed rocks of varying sizes. Now the river wasn’t as much a problem. Even after a rain, with the rocks/engines on the river bed, one could get enough speed to get up the bank on the other side with little trouble. No more major problems – at least until the whole swamp flooded again and kept you from getting even to the river!
As I basked in my glory, one of the older missionary men who had lived previously lived on the station came to visit. He stayed for a day or so and, as he was getting ready to leave, asked where “his” Model T engines were. He wanted them. And I was chagrined. I had to tell him what I had done with them. I told him where they were and said if he really wanted them he could go and dig them out. (No. I didn’t offer to retrieve them.)
I guess it wasn’t that much of an issue with him. Maybe he just “kept it in” until he drove away to go home. Anyway, I found out later that what he really wanted were the magnets in the clutch assemblies that the old Model T’s had. What he wanted them for I have no idea!
But I guess I have to keep in mind that abandoned “stuff” still has an owner. I just need to find them!!

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