Smart Sattley Gas Engine Restoration

Some creative techniques were required to get a very rough Sattley gas engine running again
By Dave Irey
December/January 2010
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The pulley side of the main bearing cap was a very poorly homemade part, brazed up of a piece of pipe, two flat steel parts and the sloppy repouring of babbitt.
Photo by Dave Irey
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While visiting a fellow engine collector who lives just west of Wayazata, Minn., and has restored many of his gas engines, we got to talking about restorations and reading about some of the hard ones that have been done, such as the one described in Peter Rooke’s “The Rusty Rescue” articles in Gas Engine Magazine (December/January 2008 to April/May 2008). My friend said, “I have a Sattley that is almost that bad – just not that rusty.”

In need of some TLC
He wasn’t kidding. The flywheels on the Sattley were loose on the crankshaft and had worn away about 1/4 inch of the crankshaft metal. The rod bearing had gotten loose and spun into the connecting rod. This looked bad!

In addition, the pulley side main bearing cap was a poorly homemade part, brazed with a piece of pipe, two flat steel parts and possibly the worst repouring of babbitt I have ever seen. The head was freeze-cracked and repaired with a very poorly done braze (possibly by the man who did the bearing cap job). The cam and crank gears had chipped and broken teeth. The governor weights, which were in the water jacket, needed to be brazed back together. There was no sign of a magneto or any linkage to it. A steel pin protruded from the cam gear, and a piece of hacksaw blade bolted to a block served as a timer. An old tin lawn mower tank was fastened to the rotten wood skids and a copper line served as a fuel line. An old threaded bicycle inner tube stem had been made into a check valve in the fuel tank and brazed to the copper line.

My friend said, “If you want a real challenge, here it is!” I bought the Sattley and my friend said, “Let me know how you do on it.”

Getting started
At home, a few phone calls for parts came up empty. I planned to buy a parts engine and put the two engines together to make one good one, but no such luck.

I looked at the crankshaft for a while and decided to weld the area that was worn down. For several days, I made one welding pass in the morning along the shaft, starting at the keyway, and the same pass in the evening. Since this didn’t get the shaft too hot, it didn’t distort. However, it wasn’t straight to start with, so I straightened it by using chains, a 3-foot piece of railroad rail and a hydraulic jack. The crankshaft was then turned on the lathe and polished smooth.

Magneto modifications
I did not have a magneto and could not tell if the engine ever had one. There was no sign of any rods, levers or mounts, or anything on the round pushrod.

Because I was already welding the crankshaft, I decided to weld a 2-1/2-by-3/16-inch flat washer onto the pulley side of the crankshaft and use a 1970s Briggs & Stratton magneto flywheel. The engine has solid flywheels and the Briggs flywheel can be hidden inside the solid flywheel and not be noticed.

I put the Briggs magneto flywheel in the lathe, cut off the cooling fins and bored a 1-1/2-inch hole in the center to fit the Sattley crankshaft. I turned a flat face to the inside to fit the 2-1/2-by-
3/16-inch flat washer that mounts it on the crankshaft. The front side was also faced flat so it clears the main bearing cap and boss. When it is in proper time, I will drill, tap, bolt and pin it to the flat washer.

Brass rods, 3/8 inch in length, were chosen for the mount for the Briggs coil and automobile points. A 5/16-inch shoulder 1-1/4 inches long was turned on the lathe, threaded on one end, and drilled and tapped for No. 8 screws on the other end. The original Briggs points would not work so I used automobile distributor points from a 1970s Chrysler Six that I had lying around. This took some very careful measuring and fitting to get just right. Then, the bosses for the brass pins were cut into the engine block just ahead of and below the main bearing boss on the pulley side of the engine. Holes were drilled and tapped to accept the brass rods for the Briggs coil and Chrysler points. Two of the brass pins act as a distributor plate as in an automobile engine, and two mount the Briggs coil. The trick was to get the coil-points and flywheel into perfect synchronization so that a good spark occurs at the right time. When I have this correct, a steel roll pin will be used to eliminate any movement of the flywheel on the crank mounting.

The coil output wire was extended by soldering a longer wire to the existing wire and taping the splice up. The splice cannot be near any metal or it will leak.

A 3/16-inch hole was drilled through the newly poured babbitt and through the block casting to accept a sleeve through which the Briggs points pushrod will protrude to open and close the points. Once this was in place, I was able to cut a flat spot into the Sattley crankshaft just like the Briggs crankshaft to open and close the points.

Moving on to the head
The piston ring grooves were badly worn at the wrist pin, so I went from 1/4-inch rings to 5/16-inch rings by lathe-turning the ring grooves wider so they would now be square again. A new wrist pin was made from 7/8-inch round steel. Piston bosses were rebored to fit as they were worn oval shaped.

The brazing on the rod loop was left as-is without grinding down the brazing, as it won’t be seen. A new 3/8-inch National Fine thread high-grade bolt was used to clamp it to the wrist pin. The cylinder bore was lightly honed to clean it up and give it a crosshatch to seat the rings faster.

Other than the ugly welding, the head was not too bad. The valves were shot, though, and the exhaust valve stem was 80 percent rotted away. The welding was redone and reground so it wouldn’t show too bad, and the gasket sealing surface was reground flat.

Both valves were replaced using automobile engine valves. The original valves had 5/16-inch stems, but the valve guides were worn way out of spec and were rebored to 0.314375 inch. I have a 6-gallon plastic bucket full of old automobile engine valves (I do auto repair), and two valves were found, reground and shortened. A 1/8-inch hole for a spring retaining cotter key was drilled, and the valve seats were reground and narrowed.

The fuel mixer was OK and just needed to be cleaned. The spark plug, a “tiger” take apart type, was cleaned and a new top nut installed. I hope it works.

I made a new main bearing cap from a pipe T cut down the middle and welded onto 5/8-inch-thick by 1-inch-wide ears for the hold-down bolts. Then, both main bearings were repoured with fresh babbitt and rebored to fit the newly repaired crankshaft. I use a homemade 240-volt electric stove top for preheating welding and melting babbitt for pouring. It is a single burner from a 4-burner cooktop stove with short legs and an extra galvanized tin heat shield added to the bottom so that it can be safely used on a work bench.

Repairing the governor
The governor has the flyweights mounted on the crankshaft gear, and the flyweights were broken off at the pivot pin. Luckily, all of the pieces were present and were brazed back on. The governor pick blade was broken off, but the half that was there gave me a good idea of what it’s supposed to look like. I used a piece of angle iron, 3/4-by-3/4-by-5-1/2-inch, sawn out on a band saw, and drilled on a drill press to fabricate a new blade. The blade latch up part is riveted on to the angle iron and tack welded in place.

This is a different style of governor than I’m used to seeing, as it latches up by pushing to the outside of the engine, and its weights are on the cam gear. These are mostly stamped or fabricated parts, and the weights are cast iron. The collar that the flyweights pivot on in the cam gear were badly worn and refashioned square in the milling machine. The brass parts of the governor were worn out or missing and had to be remade completely. One good thing about this was that when it was done, I was able to chuck the whole assembly in the lathe, spin it up to 350 RPM and watch the governor weights move so I could get the spring tension right.

Finishing touches
When the weather warmed up, I started painting the engine. I was told that these engines were painted a light brown but this one has traces of green, so I painted it green. A Montgomery Wards catalog from the mid-1920s shows decals on the water jacket and a WICO EK magneto. It also shows a flat, rectangular pushrod, while my pushrod is round. Wards contracted for all of its engines, and it’s possible that mine was a contract engine from Field-Brundage.

No usable wood was on the engine skid and it needed a couple of wheels. I made a small, 2-wheel skid/cart so it easily moves around. Two wheels in the rear do the rolling and a handle on the lighter front end makes it easy to move.

The initial start-up of the engine went fairly smooth, but getting the mostly homemade governor mechanism to latch up correctly took a lot more time.


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