The Six Horse-Power Coaker (Scammell) video

See also: Coaker (MacEdward Leach)
#1144: YouTube video by oldirishladdie
℗2010 ~ Used with permission ~

You fishermen free that go forth on the sea,
With your engines of various makes;
This old jump-spark of mine,
I would take every time,
You can keep all your new make-and-breaks.

She was tied up with twine,
there were pistons hard-lined
'Round the timer to keep it in place;
Her compression was weak
and the air used to leak,
Where the packin' was blown from the base.

She was easy on fuel, but she kicked like a mule,
For the screws on the beddin' were slack;
And we all of us swore
when she'd rise from the floor,
We all feared that she'd never come back.

So we lashed her with wire and a motor car tire,
Oh, how we did labour and scote;
And with posts on each side, we earnestly tried,
To keep her from leavin' the boat.

This motor of ours has miraculous powers,
One summer we broke our pump band;
Now they cost quite a lot, so when she got hot,
We cooled off that Coaker by hand.

One evening last fall we went out to our trawl,
Though it looked like 'twas going to blow;
We turned to go in in the teeth of the wind,
With a cross-handed dory in tow.

Tom hove up the wheel
and he cussed a good deal,
He cranked till he found of his heart;
He tested the oil, examined the coil,
But the devil of it would she start.

'Twas coming on night,
with the seas feather white,
When up to us rowed a small skiff;
And a bedlamer boy with a cast in his eye,
Kindly offered to give us a lift.

That kid stepped aboard with the air of a lord,
His movements unhurried and slow;
He noted the string and the window-blind spring,
But he got that old Coaker to go.

Go, go, he made that thing go,
At first he just ran her dead slow;
She hasn't much speed 'cause the oil don't feed,
But he got that old Coaker to go.

Just a poor homeless lad, he hadn't a dad,
And his name you may never have heard;
But the boat swung about as he opened her out,
And she rose to the waves like a bird.

So, we shipped on that kid,
and we're sure glad we did,
Now it is seldom we ask for a tow;
And he gets a full share which I think only fair,
For getting that Coaker to go.

Go, go, he makes that thing go,
How he does it I'm sure I don't know;
We can race with the Clyde
and we'll keep her 'longside,
When he coaxes that Coaker to go.

####.... Arthur R Scammell [1913-1995] ....####
Recorded by Arthur R Scammell (My Newfoundland, 1974 LP, trk#3, Audat Records, Oshawa, Ontario.)

Liner Notes by Arthur R Scammell:
I wrote most of these songs and verses many years ago when I was growing up in a Newfoundland outport - Change Islands in Notre Dame Bay. The Coaker was a marine engine, named after Sir William Coaker, one of our prominent old-time politicians.

This song was published in Arthur R Scammell's book, My Newfoundland, pp.122-123 (Harvest House, Montreal, QC, 1966).

See more Arthur R Scammell songs.

Also published on p.74 of Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, 1940, 2nd Edition, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside For Gerald S Doyle, St John's.

A variant was sung by Edwin John (Eddy) Primroy [1928-1999] of Pouch Cove, NL, but published with the title Coaker in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Bedlamer boy - youth approaching manhood; applied rather contemptuously to young fellows between 16 and 20; derived from the French bête de la mer (beast of the sea) used to describe a half-grown seal.
Coaker - gasoline-fueled engine used in fishing boats c.1920, and named for Sir William Coaker, founder of the Fishermen's Protective Union (FPU) in Newfoundland.
Cross-handed dory - dory rigged for rowing by one man.
Found - [past tense] of find ² to feel a sensation (of discomfort or pain); to suffer from.
Scote - ³ to strain, toil, work hard.
Trawl - buoyed line, of great length, to which short lines with baited hooks are attached at intervals.

Note: Make-And-Breaks - popular and enduring single cylinder gasoline marine engines, in use since the early 20th century, which could withstand getting wet and could be repaired with a coat hanger and a pair of pliers.


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