About six years ago, I was showing some engines at our county fair. Nearby, I had a sign that read: “Wanted – old gas engines, steam engines or steam whistles.”
One afternoon, a boy, about 16 years old, came by to talk with me. His name was Bill, and he said that he had an old 5 HP International engine in the woods behind his house. Junk was being cleaned up around the place so this would be the right time to rescue the engine.
At first, the 5 HP remark made me think of an LB or LA engine in 3 to 5 HP. Then, when Bill told me it had two flywheels, I thought of an IHC M in 3 or 6 HP.
Too good to be true?
The next day, it rained so my dad and I decided to leave the fair early to check out Bill’s engine, just 15 minutes from the fairgrounds.
At the door, Bill’s dad, Bill Sr., greeted us and took us back to check out the engine. From a distance, I could see that it was not an LB or an M. It turned out to be a 1908 2-1/2 HP Famous that seemed to be complete. Even the crankshaft guard and oiler were still in place.
My dad was quick to hand over the cash when Bill Sr. said he only wanted $25 for the engine! We were glad we had a winch and planks to load it on our truck because it was bolted to an old steel plate about 4 feet wide and 6 feet long.
After checking out the engine at home, we discovered the Famous must have been left out in the weather for 60 or 70 years. The gas tank was full of leaves and the oiler cap was left open. The piston was frozen solid.
Later on, I threw the cylinder and piston into an old bathtub. Using some cedar fence posts, I built a hot fire in the tub. The fire was kept going until the assembly turned cherry red. Then I let the fire burn out. The next day, when I tapped the piston with a hammer, it fell out of the block.
All the engine parts were there but some needed to be heated with a torch. The cam gear and gas tank had to be replaced and the cylinder was too rough to save. I had a new sleeve made at a nearby engine shop for only $100. The shop still does this type of work at a reasonable cost.
Once my Famous was finished, it started up easily and ran fine.
Contact Rick Lederhouse at 2058 Youngstown Wilson Rd., Ransomville, NY 14131.