Restoring a 1911 2 HP Foos Jr. Gas Engine

Roadside revelation

2 HP Foos Jr Engine

Jim Sherman's stunning 2 HP Foos Jr. spent part of its life as a yard ornament.

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2 HP Foos Jr. 
Manufacturer: Foos Gas Engine Co., Springfield, Ohio
Year: Circa 1911
Serial number: 30567
HP: 2
Bore: 4-inch
Stroke: 7-inch
Flywheel diamter: 22-3/4 inches
Flywheel width: 2 inches
Governing: Hit-and-miss
Ignition: Spark plug and buzz coil
Additional features: 7-inch pulley cast into right-hand flywheel

My quest for a Foos engine started in 1996 while, oddly enough, I was busy restoring my 6 HP 1916 Galloway. While locating some missing parts for the Galloway, I mentioned to my grandpa Gene that I needed a mixer, and he just happened to own one that came off an 8 HP Foos his father had owned on their farm when my grandpa was a kid. That mixer is now on my Galloway, and that's where the idea and quest for the Foos started.

Let's Make a Deal
One afternoon in June 2003, Grandpa called me after he and my uncle had been out looking for property to buy, and he told me he had seen a 2 HP Foos positioned as a yard ornament in the front of a house on Banner Road, a short ferry ride away from my house in Vashon, Wash. After hearing that, I quickly decided I would take a detour on my way home from work the next day to look at it.

I found the engine the next day, and it was in pretty sad shape. It was indeed a Foos, serial no. 30567, but about the only good thing on it was a #2 Lunkenheimer Paragon oiler. Even so, I was still interested, so I approached the house where the Foos sat and asked if they would be interested in selling it.

The lady I talked to said her kids had found it in the woods behind their house, they weren't interested in selling it, and three other people had already tried to buy it from them. I made an offer anyway and left my phone number and e-mail address with her.

Three days later, she e-mailed me to say she had talked to her kids and they were willing to sell it. All I had to do was come over and talk with them about it, and the kids would split the money.

Not surprisingly, I didn't sleep well the next few nights waiting for the weekend so I could head back and get the engine. The following Sunday, my wife, Karie, and my son, Emmett, and I returned to the house and struck a deal with the kids for the Foos.

The Restoration Ritual
I thought the Foos' restoration would have to wait for winter, but it didn't end up that way. After I got it home, I couldn't wait to tear into it! And of course, once I started, I couldn't wait to hear it run. (Does any of this sound familiar to anyone else?)

The crankshaft was badly bent, and removing the flywheels from the crank and straightening the crankshaft was the hardest part of the project.

To remove the flywheels, I warmed up the hubs and - with a little persuasion - drifted the flywheels onto the crank a bit, then knocked out the keys. After that, I warmed up the hubs again and used some Kroil to lube the shaft and hub. Then I used a large puller to slowly jack the flywheels off the shaft. Once this was done, I took the crankshaft to a shop that claimed they could straighten it for me. While the crankshaft was at the shop, I started on the rest of the cleanup and repairs.

Both valve stems were rusted beyond use, but luckily the stems were a standard size and I was able to bore the old stems out of the valve face and build new stems out of 3/8-inch drill rod. The catch for the detent lever that acts as a contact point for the ignition was also in bad shape. To fix that, I bored out a 3/8-inch-diameter Grade 8 bolt and milled a flat on it, which works great.

I was eager to get the crankshaft, install it and fire up the engine. But when it returned from the shop a week later, I opened the box, took one look at the crank and wasn't happy. I could still see the bend with my naked eyes! I called the shop that worked on it, told them about the bend and sent it back. After an agonizingly long week of waiting, I got it back again, and this time it looked like they had straightened it with a sledgehammer. It was almost straight, so I thought it might work fine.

The mixer valve was also rusted away, and the valve guide in the mixer wollered pretty badly. To correct this, I made a new valve and needle valve, and then gave my grandpa the mixer body so he could build and install a new guide. The engine cart, which I bought through Gas Engine Magazine, is actually a reproduction Waterloo Boy cart. I like the way it looks, so it doesn't matter to me that it's not 'original.' Once all the parts and pieces were cleaned up, repaired or rebuilt, I began putting it back together -but that didn't take long at all!

Taking Her First Spin
With the Foos back together, I gave her a couple of spins and she was off and running - only four weeks after hauling it home. However, once the engine was running, I noticed the crank had a dog leg in it, and one flywheel had a wobble. Once again, I pulled the crank out and sent it to be fixed again - this time to Abraham's Machine Service in Iowa. This shop, however, did an excellent job! Now both flywheels spin nice and true.

The Foos starts very easily, and it runs nice and slow - it's the easiest to start out of all of my engines and gets the most running time. I hope to have time this summer to take it to a show or two.

I'd like to thank my grandpa Gene Sherman for helping on the mixer; Gene Brady for the decals, the oak that made the cart and for letting me copy some of his Foos information; my wife, Karie, for understanding and putting up with my obsession; and my son, Emmett, for keeping me company in the shop.

steve carroll
4/1/2009 7:24:27 PM

I have a foos 4HP JR. That my late father restored and has shown it with other engines for years. I have just finished painting the foos and will in his honor show it this year.