4 HP American Railroad Appliance Co. gas engine

A wacko ARACO


William Brown’s 4 HP American Railroad Appliance Co. engine.

Photo by William Brown

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I got this 4 HP hot-tube ignition American Railroad Appliance Co. (ARACO) engine from my friend and mentor, Jim McQuatters. He was showing his nice 9 HP Fairbanks-Morse “Jack of All Trades” at our July 4th show in Santa Fe, N.M., and decided he would trade with me.

A little bit of TLC
The engine, made in Oil City, Pa., had a broken crankshaft and stuck valves – the usual. I took off the cylinder and connecting rod, cut some angle irons and made a jig to hold the flywheels parallel.

I put a 3/4-inch threaded pipe across the span in three places to make it adjustable, and made an inside-diameter micrometer to run between the flywheels with a 1/2-inch pipe with bolts and nuts welded on the ends.

I then ground a groove across the crankshaft and welded a little each day until it filled up. When I took off the jig, I found the flywheels to be completely crooked. I ground it out, put the jig back, welded it again and it was still crooked! So, I put a jack across the top to get the flywheels straight, heated up the weld, pulled the jack out and yes – nice.

Jim made a new intake valve as the original one leaked and caught on fire from the hot tube. Scared me pretty good!

Once I got the pressures right on March 14, 2008, the ARACO busted out and started.

I’d like to thank my nephew Tim for casting the hit-and-miss weight.

Contact William Brown at 34 Brown Castle Ranch, Santa Fe, NM 87508 • (505) 577-2578