Don't Leave a Running Engine Unattended

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10267 Tyler Road Lakeview, Michigan 48850.

As with most engine folks, spring is the season to resurrect enthusiasm for 'old iron' and to bring out our treasures, dust them off, clean up, oil, grease, etc., and then fire up. Recollections of the winter months of old engine noises and smells are brought to reality once more. Your prizes run as they did the previous fall at the last show or gas-up- most of the time.

I am not unlike the foregoing, and the spring of 1992 was no exception. As I worked my way through my small collection, I came upon my Stover CT-2. It had done yeoman service at the 1991 shows, and I commenced to gas-up, oil, etc., and then flipped the flywheel to start it. To my surprise the engine immediately accelerated rapidly and within a few seconds was overdriving well beyond the working r.p.m. I immediately pulled the plug wire and it stopped. Puzzled, I carefully looked the engine over, manually turning the fly wheel through the cycles to try and locate the problem. Being a hit-miss engine, I carefully checked all the springs and linkages for loose and broken pieces, binding, etc.-nothing. I dismantled the entire governor and cleaned it-still nothing was evident. I reassembled everything and started the engine again. This time I wasn't quick enough in pulling the plug wire and suddenly I heard expensive noises and parts were flying from the front of the engine.

Examination of the damage revealed the engine had quickly revved to the point where the pin holding the intake valve came out and the valve spring and washer sailed about 15 feet across the driveway. The engine had also swallowed the intake valve. I removed the head and found the intake valve bent into a 'U' shape with very little internal damage to the engine.

All this, despite the fact it had run perfectly the previous fall-strange!

I picked up the pieces, made a new intake valve, and reassembled the engine, still not sure what had caused the problem. I decided to check the detent blade to see that it was latching properly on the exhaust push rod. Seemed okay, released fine cycling by hand, but I decided to touch it up a bit with a fine file. I started it again and lo and behold it ran perfectly.

This whole sequence of events was frightening, in that I was fortunate to not have a flywheel explode with people around, like would be found at an engine show. It clearly shows what can happen to an engine that runs normally and then seems to spontaneously run amuck with potentially disastrous results. Further, it emphasized my own code of safety to never leave an engine running unattended. I hope those of you who read this will adhere to this also. All we need to help destroy this fine hobby is to have irresponsible actions that attract bureaucratic regulation.