Holt Power Light

Holt Farm Light Plant

Content Tools

54248 Howell Road Cumberland, Ohio 43732

My brother-in-law, Chuck, asked me to haul a Ford Mustang to his friend John's garage where they were going to restore the car. When we got there and unloaded, John was telling me about this old engine he had, and wanted to show it to me because he knew I liked to restore and show antique John Deere tractors and equipment. We walked to a 6' x 6' building about 100 yards from the house, and there was an old power plant. It was different from anything I had ever seen. We talked about it for a short time, and I was telling John he should restore it and bring it to our show.

As time passed, I kept thinking about that old power plant. Several months later I was talking to Chuck, and I asked if he saw John anymore. (John had been laid off and had a new job that required a lot of traveling.) He said he still talked with him on most weekends. I told Chuck, 'When you see John, ask him if he wants to sell that old power plant.' Chuck called later, and told me John said to come up and get it and we would work something out. We had to postpone our dates to pick it up because of snow and bad weather, since the building sat down over the hill from the house. Chuck said he would help, and we set a date of February 26, 1995 to pick it up. It had some wiring cut off that went to the house, and some missing. It was also wired into a water pump regulator which had been run by a flat belt from the engine to a line shaft. John's tractor and boom were used to remove the power plant that weighed about 550 lbs. It took about 3 hours to remove it from the building and get it loaded.

After getting it home, we took several pictures of the wiring and engine to help keep everything in order when reassembling it.

The engine was stuck. Since it is a headless engine, I took the side cover off, and the piston was all the way up and the valves were closed. I took the sparkplug out and started to soak the engine. Not having time to work on it until the following winter, I kept soaking it with everything I could think of. After soaking for eight months or so, I needed to come up with something different because soaking helped but wasn't completely working. I thought of heating but didn't want to break or destroy anything, so I decided to pour hot water into the water jacket and see if that would help. After pouring hot water in a couple of times to get it as hot as possible, and by using a pipe wrench on the coupling, it started to break loose. After working it back and forth a short time, we could turn the engine all the way over.

My sons Craig and Drew and I started to disassemble the engine, getting the jug off and checking the piston and rings. Two of the three rings were broken. After trying to locate rings, I called a number from Gas Engine Magazine, Niagara Piston Ring, Inc., and had a set made. The valves weren't in too bad of shape, but needed some work done on them. The electric governor adjustment pipe needed repairing also. After all the repairs were made, I ordered new wire to match old stock from Lee W. Pedersen, also an advertiser in the magazine. I matched the color as closely as possible from the old paint on the power plant under all the grease and oil. Finding that all the bolts on the engine were stainless steel helped set it off after the engine was painted.

March 31, 1996, we started the engine but had a miss. We felt not having the generator cleaned up and on, it might be some of the problem. After tearing the generator down and cleaning it up, we tried a 6-volt battery and it ran well. It took some time to get all the wiring figured out because of all the wiring not being intact when we removed the power plant from the building.

April 4, 1996, we had the generator coupled to the engine and the battery started the engine. It was running well but would not come up to speed. After replacing with a hotter sparkplug, adjusting the carburetor and the speed control on the governor, it came up to speed, lighting a 100-watt bulb.

As you can see in the picture, the big control box on the panel is called an F-F current regulator which is a battery charger. My power plant is the same light plant that is in American Gasoline Engines on page 40 under 'automatic light plant,' which is called Holt Farm Light Plant built in Ludington, Michigan. My plant is called Holt Power Light built in Detroit, Michigan. My engine is turned so that the flywheel is coupled to the generator, and has an additional bracket for the magneto which was built by Heinze Electric Company, Lowell, Massachusetts. The water tank for cooling is copper. On the brass nameplate it has 'Patents Pending' and 'serial number 5138.' Also, while cleaning the engine I found in the soft plugs, 'Patented 4-8-13.' The DC generator is a General Electric 110 volt, .7 KW, and runs at a speed of 1600 rpm.

I built the wagon from red oak and also built the spoke wheels. I am a member and president of the Freeland Valley Antique Power Club and have shown this power plant the last two years at our annual show. This was the first small engine that my sons Craig, Drew and I have restored, and we really enjoyed it.

If anyone has more information on this Holt Power Plant, please contact me at the address above.