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Steve Peirce         Uniontown, OH       (12/2002)

Mule Atmospheric Vacuum Engine

  I was just thinking the other day about all the interesting stories that go into building an engine. There is a memory in each and every part of the "Mule" some are more interesting then others.
  I guess if I were to tell the story of the Maxum Mule I would have to start at the beginning. Back in 1986 I started building an engine in machine shop at the local Vo-Tech in New Jersey. That engine is a whole book in itself and was never finished, But, I'll skip ahead. Browsing E-bay a few years ago I renewed my interest in building engines, which in turn led me to Jerry Howell and Bob Shores web sites. I was Hooked!  From Bob's site I found Cabin Fever's site and found out Bob would be there. I had to meet him and get one of his Silver Bullet Kits. My father had a 1931 Model A cut into a farm tractor when I was a kid. I loved to race it around the Apple Orchard. Bob's Bullet reminded me of that old ford and how much I missed it. Bob was no disappointment in person! after picking up a few things from Bob I met Jerry Howell and picked up a few of his plans, one being his "Side Shaft Vacuum"
  Shortly after the show I was laid off from my job as a Model Craftsman for the Tire Industry. I lost my house and everything but a 1967 Military Jeep, a 1963 Ford "Rat Trap" pick up and the cloths on my back. I Packed what I had in the jeep, hooked the ford to the back and left Ohio for a job offer in the Aviation Industry in Kansas. I arrived in Kansas Sept 11th 2001. My job offer when down with the Towers. I cashed in my 401K and bought a Sherline Mill and Lathe. I figured what the hell I might as well be happy and homeless and the jeep was equipped with a generator. I had been talking to a local Aerospace company but they kept saying come back in a month or so.
  So, as a part time Brunswick A-2 Pin setter Mechanic at "El Bowl" in Eldorado Kansas I started on the side shaft engine. Most of the parts of the engine are made from Pin Setter parts. The Valve arm is from an electrical relay from the control panel, the valve is from a 1/4-20 bolt, the plunger spring , you guessed it , from an A-2 pin setter! The Valve rod is 3/32 brazing rod from the bowling alley. The original starting knob was a piece of polished blue metal flake bowling ball that had been damaged in a pin setter. The flywheel, I dug up out of the ground at Wichita Iron and Steel. The Teflon plunger and the spark plug I am working on were from a piece of Teflon I dug up getting to the piece I made the flywheel from! when the engine was down to the flywheel I couldn't part off the flywheel on the sherline lathe so I asked the owner of the Aerospace company if he could cut off a 1/2 inch for me. He said ok and asked what it was for, I said I would show him in a few days. After several hours getting the engine to run at 3am I finally got it going and Tom Waits song "Gotta get behind the Mule" was on the radio, so the Mule was born. Originally it was polished to a chrome finish, but I thought it would look nicer if it looked like an old engine more then a science experiment, so  I took the look of my fathers Alice Chalmers belt pulley, added a miniature oiler and grease cups. Built a wood frame and built the fuel tank and gave it a coat of paint. I took it to show the owner of Aerospace, I was hired on the spot as a CNC operator. I was laid 0ff a few months later and returned to Ohio and the tire industry as a Lab Technician. I also gave the engine the Maxum Story found on my web site as I have yet to find a burner system that I like. My web site can be found at and that's the "SHORT" story of the Maxum Mule Engine.



Copyright 2002,  Florida Association of Model Engineers and engine builder as noted above, All rights reserved.