THE CUMMINS HISTORICAL RESTORATION CENTER
Those who appreciate diesel history are always happy to see the cornerstones of diesel manufacturing maintaining corporate investments in it. Cummins is one of those foundational companies that got diesel power where it is today, and it might interest you to know they maintain a Historical Restoration Center (HRC) near their headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, where they store, restore and operate old Cummins engines. It’s not open to the public, but if you see a vintage Cummins engine at a Cummins facility or event, it probably came from there. Cummins gave us an inside look at the HRC and we got to see some restorations in progress.
You may already know that Cummins does maintain a museum at their headquarters and it’s open to the public. Normally. When we visited in the spring of 2018 it was undergoing a major renovation that won’t be complete until 2019. That turned out to be a good thing, because many exhibits from the museum were being stored at the HRC, giving us “one-stop-shopping” experience. And what an experience it was! The guy in charge of the HRC is David Goggin. He’s the Cummins marketing communications director, and since 2015 he’s enthusiastically overseen both the HRC and the Cummins Archive. Part of his job is educating new hires on the history of Cummins and we got to see him do his stuff running a large group of new employees through a “Cummins History 101” course. Most of the restoration work at the HRC is done by volunteers that include current and retired Cummins employees from various levels in the company. Their efforts are supported with a modest budget from Cummins.
The founding father of the HRC is a guy named Jeff Jones, who was a sales and marketing VP. He had a sense of the history languishing in various storage areas at Cummins, largely unseen by most in the company. He recognized the danger that shortsightedness and a casual “let’s clean this place up” order often leads to a company forever losing its history. He found likeminded people in the company to carry out a master plan to see it preserved, documented, restored and displayed. It began in earnest in 2012, when Jones tapped engineer Bruce Watson
An overview of nearly 100 years of Cummins history in one room. And this isn’t the entirety of the collection! Numerous artifacts are rotated around the various Cummins facilities worldwide. You will be seeing individual stories on some of these vehicles and engines in upcoming installments of Vintage Smoke.