Cushman Ramblings

SECC members are invited to submit personal Cushman stories, including photos, Cushman "tips", new sources of information/products, unique experiences, fun rides, etc. to Gene for posting consideration. Only current SECC members are eligible to submit articles.

Tell others your stories


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Article #1
By Howard Murrill

"If Motor Scooters Could Talk"

Well, here I sit. It was raining this morning, and my rider went to school on the bus. So I'm stuck here in the garage with a car, a lawn mower, and a rusty bicycle. I can see sunshine out the window now, so when my rider gets home, we'll find somewhere to go.

Excuse me for not introducing myself. I'm a Cushman, model 62 Pacemaker. I have been running a paper route so my rider can keep me supplied with gasoline. I really don't like that kind of work, because we chug along slowly, stopping often and sometimes that causes my Husky engine to overheat. Tough on the clutch too. But I can't complain. That route only takes about an hour, and then we go do the fun stuff.

Last week we got into a race with a little scooter from Japan. It had three gears, so it got ahead at the start. After about a block, we caught him and cruised right on by. I hear my rider brag about how I can go 50 miles and hour, but I don't have a speedometer, so who knows?

A few days ago we went to the beach. That always means about a mile of heavy traffic, but the beach road dead ends four miles down the coast and most of the traffic doesn't go that far down. Anyway, we stopped at a parking area between the road and the high tide mark. My rider got off and went down on the beach with some friends. They were throwing a Frisby around and having a good time.

It was beginning to look like I was going to just sit there all afternoon. That's not what Cushmans like to do. I had almost a full tank and I wanted to go!

Fortunately, things have a way of working out, and it wasn't long before he left the group and came up to where I was parked. He kicked my engine over and we took off down to the end of the road. We crossed the soft sand and got down on the hard part of the beach where the riding is easy. We went wide open for a mile or two. That part of the beach was practically deserted. We stopped and my rider put one foot on the sand and just sat there looking at the waves. Then we went home.

I think I hear the school bus coming now. I'm even looking forward to delivering the afternoon papers. Then we can go do the fun stuff.

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Article #2

By Howard Murrill

Wayne and I are almost kinfolks. He married my wife's cousin. He and I both worked at the local newspaper back in the 1950's before either of us married. He was a high school student with a paper route and I was a part-time reporter working my way through college. I remember talking to Wayne about his Cushman Eagle, but he was just one of a dozen carriers that hung out on the loading dock waiting for the afternoon papers to come off the press.

One cold day I was driving down East Main Street headed for a class at the college, when I came upon a Cushman following closely behind a slow moving pickup truck. I don't think I realized it was Wayne because he was wearing a heavy jacket with a hood. As the pickup driver continued to slow down, Wayne got impatient and opened up that 8 horsepower Husky and took off around the truck. That was when the driver of the truck decided to turn into a side street with no signal at all. Wayne's head narrowly missed the truck's rear view mirror and he and the scooter bounced off the driver's side door and front fender. It was almost slow motion to me. I can still see Wayne tumbling on to a sidewalk and the scooter spinning around while standing on its back fender. Wayne had a cut on one finger and probably some bruises, but the scooter looked like junk. The police came, and told Wayne to go to the hospital emergency room which was about a block away. I was late for class so I went on to the college.

Fast forward about 50 years, and my wife and I went to a family reunion. Her cousin was there and I got to talking to her husband. I was wearing a Cushman T-shirt, so he and I got to talking about Cushmans. At that point, I didn't connect Wayne, the kid, with Wayne, a man nearing retirement age He said he had an Eagle that he bought to run a paper route, but had a wreck on it. He said he fixed it up and sold it. Then he started telling about his wreck and a light bulb went off in my head. I remember saying, "I know about that wreck. I was right behind you."
After that we talked good-old-days, and pieced everything together. Wayne and I have been good friends ever since, but I haven't succeeded in getting him back on a Cushman.

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Article #3
By Howard Murrill

It's me again, the Cushman Pacemaker, and I have a problem this morning. My front tire is flat. It's Saturday, so there's no school and my rider is sleeping in. Is there anything worse than being stuck in a garage with a flat tire on a day when Cushmans should be out on the road? But things are looking up now, because I can hear kitchen sounds and that means my rider is probably up and having breakfast.

Almost before I knew it, I was up on a milk crate and my flat tire was being removed. The problem was a small nail that I picked up somewhere. Cushmans ride on split rims, which means that tire repairs are fairly easy. A few bolts are removed and the rim comes apart. There is no need to pry the tire off the wheel. The tube got a patch and the tire and wheel were reassembled. Then a little air and the wheel was ready to be put back on my fork.

I was ready to ride! But as soon as I got off that milk crate, wood blocks were going underneath so that I was sitting upright. It was really more comfortable than leaning over on that kickstand, and I knew I was going to get an oil change. While the oil was draining, my sprocket chain came off. Outside somewhere the chain was cleaned and sprayed with some stuff from a motorcycle shop.

Before it as all over, I had new oil, properly inflated tires, a lubricated sprocket chain, a clean air filter, and a sparkling clean engine. I still needed a wash and wax, but that could wait for another day. My rider and I spent the rest of the day wandering up and down back streets and cruising country roads. That's what Cushmans do best.

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Article #4

The Cushman that Got Away

By Howard Murrill

When I was 16, I had a driver's license, but the family car wasn't often available. I decided I needed a Cushman motor scooter. I had very little money, so I started saving. .

My folks managed a small hotel in Fort Pierce, Florida. We lived there and I worked as a bellhop in the evenings. There was no elevator, and I sometimes carried suitcases up the steps. Most people opted to carry their own, but those who didn't usually tipped a dime or a quarter. If I was extremely frugal I could save up about $20 a month. I decided to start looking at the classifieds when I had $40. When I reached that goal, there were no $40 scooters for sale anywhere, but I found one for $50 and it was about two miles from the hotel. I started walking. I planned to offer $40 for the scooter and hoped it would have enough gas in it to ride home.

It turned out to be a 1946 model which made it about four years old. It needed tires and had some minor scratches and dents, but the engine had good compression and it started right up. The man who owned it said he was only selling it because he was buying a car. But he wouldn't haggle the price. As I started the long walk home, a man and a boy in a car, stopped in front of the house. I kept looking back and could see that they were looking at the Cushman. When I was about half way home, I saw them again. The man was driving the car and the boy was following along on the Cushman.

Just days later, I found a man who was selling an old English motorcycle. It was nearly worn out, but it ran. For $40, I was the owner of a 1947 Famous James. It had been painted green with a brush, and like the Cushman, the tires had seen better days. It was a two-cycle that needed a Coke bottle of oil mixed into each tank of gas. I soon found the the compression was low and it wouldn't keep up with anything. Cushmans, Whizzers and Harley 125's would leave it in the dust, but I rode it all over town. It would go to the beach in half the time that it took on a bicycle.

In fact I was on the way to the beach when I saw the Cushman that got away. It was on the side of the road across from the Coast Guard station. I recognized the kid who had bought it. He was cranking and cranking with no results. I stopped and asked him what was wrong. He said that it just stopped and wouldn't restart. I asked him what he had checked and he said it had plenty of gas. I didn't know much about scooters, but here was a guy who knew even less than I did. He didn't have any tools and all I had was a pair of slip-joint pliers. I took the spark plug out and it was fouled with soft carbon. I used a weed stem to clean off some of the carbon and put it back in. It started. He thanked me, and I told him that he should carry a spare plug and a wrench.

About a year later, we moved from Florida to Tennessee, and I sold the Famous James. I never got over wanting a Cushman, but I didn't get one until I was 59 years old. When I ride, I always carry a plug wrench and a spare spark plug.

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Article 5

By Howard Murrill
Middle Tenessee Engine & Tractor Show-Sept. 28-29, 2012

I'm always looking for another good scooter meet, so I was pleased to find one in Tennessee just 80 miles from home. This one was a very unusual meet. I first heard of it from James Lafever, a fellow Cushman collector who lives near Cookeville, Tennessee. The meet was held at the Hyder Burks Pavillion in Cookeville. This is a giant facility with an enormous open-air building, several other large buildings, large parking areas, paved roads, and hookups for motor homes. There were several events running there all at the same time. As the button in the picture shows, they had an Antique Engine and Tractor Show, a flea market, an antique toy show, a beekeepers convention, an antique truck show, and a Cushman meet. The Boy Scouts were having a camping event, and the Civil Air Patrol was also there.

All of this was within walking distance, but I toured on my 50-series Cushman. One old gentleman stopped me and said, "That's the first Cushman I've seen in 50 years." I wonder where he has been?

The Cushman meet attracted 29 Cushmans. There were also other old bikes such as an American Moto Scoot, a Vespa, a Harley 125, a Wards
Riverside, and a Whizzer. Somebody even showed up with a King Midget.

The best news is that this meet is an annual thing. It is always held the last full weekend of September.

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