A Brief Word

McVicker Automatic Engine


Larry Harding

Content Tools

A while back, Bill Garman, 3457 Western Ave., Mattoon, IL 61938 forwarded a package of photocopy material on Kohler engines. Bill's letter accompanying this material noted that there seems to be a lack of information on Kohler at the present time, even though Kohler is still in business.

Bill is not critical of Kohler in this regard, nor are we! After all, Kohler is in business to make money, and let's face it folks, there's not a whole lot to be made in photocopying old catalogs. The other problem, and a much larger one, is the changeover to computers. In this day and age, most of the current information is stored on com puter...everything from inventories to how many orders came from Bumfizzle, Brazil over the past year. From a company viewpoint, there is simply no need to computerize a lot of non-current machines, and apparently, this is what happened. Perhaps it would be correct to state that our hobby is fortunate in having as much material as we do, considering that the great majority of the gas engine and tractor builders are long gone.

While paging through Morrison's American Diesel Engines the other day, we ran across some interesting facts about the Mietz & Weiss engine. (Although many of our readers have probably never seen a Mietz &. Weiss, they are a very rare and highly desirable engine for your stable.) Morrison states that Mietz &. Weiss brought out this engine in 1895. It was intended to meet the demand for a small engine suitable for coast-guard and lighthouse applications. The Mietz & Weiss is of the hot-bulb, two-stroke, low-compression oil engine design and uses crankcase scavenging. After 1905 this engine was distinguished by the employment of the cooling jacket as a steam generator. A float maintained a constant water level, and the steam was admitted with the scavenging air into the cylinder. This arrangement was very successful in maintaining an even cylinder temperature. Under heavier loads, more steam was generated, and so the design was essentially automatic. Morrison goes on to state that hundreds of these engines were sold prior to 1912, but after that, sales declined, and the company quit building them in 1922.

Some confusion also exists concerning the Fairbanks-Morse Type Y oil engines. These were built first in 1912, and the original design was horizontal, with the verticals coming later. Initially, the compression was 90 pounds, and this was later raised to 120 pounds. A little later, the compression was raised to 160 pounds, and finally to 220 pounds per square inch. These various changes took place between 1912 and 1924. At the latter date, Fairbanks-Morse again altered the design, and began production of the solid injection system with a precombustion chamber. With this design the compression pressure was raised to 500 psi, and in fact, the requirement was that compression be between 480 and 520 psi. Thus did the Type Y vertical engines evolve into the Fairbanks-Morse Model 32 diesels. Thousands of these engines operated in the United States and in many other parts of the world. A final note...the Model 32 saw numerous changes during its long production period. Most had to do with squeezing additional horsepower out of the engine, and included the use of a new cylinder design with larger air passages. That is why the original Model 32 design used a cylinder with a straight jacket, and the later models have a large hump at the bottom of the cylinder. This modification was needed to enlarge the air passages, and by so doing, the naturally aspirated, 14x17 inch design went from 60 horsepower per cylinder up to 75 horsepower.

Our first question this month is:

27/4/1 McVicker Engines Q. Can you tell me the proper color scheme for a McVicker engine? Mine is a 4 HP, Type 1DD, s/n 6252. Roger Eldred, 10750 S. Vroman Rd., Sheperd, Ml 48883.

A. We can't tell you, but we hope someone can, and we hope to also share the information with our readers.

27/4/2 Fairbanks-Morse Q.What is the year built and the proper color for an FBM engine, s/n 652511? John H. Pordon, 349 Francisco Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476.

A.According to our Notebook, your engine was built in 1926. We have PPG 43846 Green and DuPont 93-72001 Green listed as comparable colors.

27/4/3 Rust RemovalRumor has it that swimming pool acid is a great rust and tarnish remover, but if you try this one, you're on your own!

27/4/4 Purple GasAndy Michels, 302 Highland Ave., Plentywood, MT 59254 writes of an interesting aspect of 'the good old days' as follows:

Years ago in Canada, most farmers drove pickups, and I always wondered why. Well, years back they had 'purple' (colored) gasoline for farm use. There was no tax on purple gas, and you could use it in your pickup within fifty miles of your home. However if your were outside of your radius, you could be fined. The Mounties carried a device to probe your fuel tank, and you were in trouble if caught with it in your car. Some people put a tank in the trunk, but if your regular tank was dry, they looked in the trunk. Now that there is no purple gas, they are driving more cars!

27/4/5 Twin City ColorsCecil McArthur, RR 1, Huxley, ALTA TOM 0Z0 Canada needs the proper colors for a 1928 Twin City Tractor. If you have the proper match, let him know, and kindly drop us a line here at GEM.

27/4/6 John Deere Engine Q.I recently acquired a John Deere Type E engine, 3 HP, s/n 351610. When was it built, and what was it used for? Bill Ranstrom, 1461 Milan Dr., Simi, CA 93065.

A.Your engine was built in 1940, and could have been used for many different stationary power duties from running an elevator to sawing wood.

27/4/7 Custom Model ER TractorClinton Cornell Jr., 6259 Rt 90, RD 1, Locke, NY 13092 has one of the above tractors and needs to correspond with other Custom tractor owners in the restoration of this 1951 model.

27/4/8 Some Unusual EnginesThanks to Robert Geiken, 209 W. 9th St., Hastings, MN 55033 for sending some very interesting photos! Numbers 8A and 8B show a YPSI engine made in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Mr. Geiken believes that these were built as 'shop project' engines, probably at some vocational school. He also notes that this appears to be the same engine as is shown in 26/11/19A & B of the November 1991 GEM. Photos 8C and 8D illustrate a Secord & Orr 4 HP engine as is illustrated on page 553 of American Gas Engines. This is a most unusual engine, especially since the company was taken over by Whitman Agricultural Works shortly after it was organized. Mr. Geiken sent along several other nice photos, but we couldn't resist illustrating the fine looking Stickney 5 HP engine shown in Photo 8E. Mr. Geiken would like to hear from anyone with further information on the Y psi engines.

27/4/9 John Deere Model LDonald R. Green, 4024 Country Lane N W, #48, Bremerton, WA 98312 sends along photos 9A, B, and C illustrating a complete stripdown of his 1934 John Deere L tractor. Don reports that between a good parts book and help from John Deere Club members, the project is moving along well and he hopes to have this tractor restored by summer.

27/4/10 Barco Gas Hammer Q. I have a Barco Gas Hammer, s/n 2259. It was made by Barco Mfg. Co., 1801-15 Winnemac Ave., Chicago, Illinois. This machine uses a free piston construction, and ignition is from a Model T Ford buzz coil. A ramp on the piston skirt closes the timer points to complete the ignition circuit, and it uses Edison spark plugs with mica insulation. This machine came with the original service tools, plus some spare parts. How is this machine started? Was there a battery box, and what are the proper fuel/oil ratio and carburetor settings? Was a muffler used, and are there any service or owners manuals in existence? Finally, when were these units built? All correspondence will be acknowledged! Brian M. Lynch, RD 1, Box 120-B, Wellsville, NY 14895. P.S. - I'm also looking for information on the Eclipse engines built by the Myrick Machine Co., Olean, New York.

A. We have seen a couple Barco hammers in the past, but so far as information on them, perhaps one of our readers can help.

27/4/11 Page Garden Tractor Q. Can anyone tell me the correct color scheme for the Page Garden Tractor, Model ZA-12FM? Any information will be appreciated. Francis Donlon, 4926 Howard Ave., Windsor, ONTN9H IC9 Canada.

A. If anyone can help, please do so, and kindly let us know so we can get this color on file.

27/4/12 Inboard Marine EngineThanks to Max F. Homfeld, 7964 Oakwood Park Ct., St. Michaels, MD 21663 for sending us a copy of his new booklet called '753 Manufacturers of Inboard Marine Engines.' This listing includes engines prior to 1940, and also includes the factory locations and a reference as to where the information was located. This little book certainly represents a lot of work!

27/4/13 IHC LA Governor Shaft Q. What is the proper way to hook up the governor shaft on the IHC LA and LB engines? The LA has no throttle lever like the LB. Boyd Young, Rt 1, Box 30, Mc-Cool Junction, NE 68401.

A. Can anyone be of help?

27/4/14 Unidentified Engine Q. See Photos 14A and 14B of an unknown engine make. It has a built-in magneto, but I do not think this is the correct carburetor. Ellis Smith, RR, Frankford, WV 24938.

A. We came up with two or three brainstorms on this one, but after awhile we decided we don't know either.

27/4/15 Kinkade Garden Tractor Q. Tommy Coffey, 200 Power Cir, Box C64-2, Hudson, NC 28638 needs to hear from anyone with information on a Kinkade Garden Tractor. He also needs the year built on a Witte 12 HP, s/n B45180.

A. The Witte engine was built in 1927.

27/4/16 Cletrac Information Needed Q. What is the exact year built for a Cletrac Model 12-W with tractor no. 28246 and motor no. W-6405? I also need to find a copy of the lubrication chart and the original color scheme for same. Jerrie B.  Coates, 37 Little Turnpike Rd., Shirley, MA01464.

A. We can't find any exact manufacturing dates for this model. However, we have Martin Senour 90T-3728 or  Ditzler 60583 Orange listed as a comparable color match.

27/4/17 McVicker Automatic Q. See the photo and sketch concerning a McVicker Model 5F engine, s/n 1835. The engine has been modified and many original parts are missing. Per 17B, the previous owner had a small cylinder (X) and piston (Y) made. If I understand the operation correctly, when the engine fires and the piston moves back to dead center, it uncovers a port (C) which allows expanding gases to travel to the small cylinder through a check valve and through the sides of the piston, pushing it out, moving the rocker arm and opening the exhaust valve. When the main piston has moved back to TDC, the groove near the bottom of the piston uncovers ports (A) and (B). Port (A) is piped into the exhaust port of the head. There is no means for gases in the small cylinder to get to port (B). Is it possible that the cylinder I have was used on a later model engine that released the small piston and exhaust valve in a different way? I would welcome hearing from anyone out there in engine land who can shed some light on this problem. Larry Harding, 1516 Hebron Rd., Hendersonville, NC 28739.

A. This writer has never been around a McVicker engine. Although your out line of the events is essentially correct, we are not able to provide the necessary details regarding the design of the parts. Hopefully, someone can be of help.

27/4/18 FBM ZC Engines Q. When did Fairbanks-Morse begin building the Style C self-oiling engines with the enclosed crankcase? What is the correct color? John Cooney, Box589, Lanesboro, MA 01237.

A.The ZC engines first appeared in 1928. We have DuPont 93-72001 green listed as a comparable match.

27/4/19 Where's the Pictures? Q. In the January GEM, items 27/113 and 2711/5 about the Forson Marine engine and the Busy Bee tractor, there were evidently pictures sent by the owners along with written correspondence. I am sure others as myself would like to see them. Why weren't they put in? This happens too often. Wendell Stahler, 5120 McClain Rd., Lima, OH45806.

A. Sometimes there are no pictures to be included in a query, and sometimes they simply will not reproduce well enough to publish. However, we should point out that Photo 27/1/5 is to be found on the next page. We're sorry you missed it.

27/4/20 Mc-Deering M Engine Q. Can anyone supply the dimensions for the skid platform used under the IHC 3 HP Type M engine? I have been told that the undercarriage on the 3 is the same as was used with the 1? HP model. Any information will be appreciated. I also have a Maytag Model 72 twin cylinder engine and need to know the color scheme. Michael Bradley, RR I, Box 79X, Transylvania, CA 71286.

A. The same part numbers are used for the hand trucks used with the IHC 1? and 3 HP Type M engines. Depending on the year, the Twin used either the green finish like the single cylinder model, or a black wrinkle finish.

27/4/21 Monitor Engines Q. What are the dimensions for the skids used under the 4 HP Monitor Type VJ engines? What are the determining factors as to whether the engine is painted red or gray? Kevin A. Behnke, 3325 N. 65th St., Wausau, WI 54401.

A.Our understanding is that the horizontal models and the pump jack models are gray, while the vertical engines are red.

27/4/22 Information Needed Q. I need information on a 4 HP Ferro Type O engine and a 3? HP Canadian Fairbanks-Morse engine. Also, can anyone report on Richard Cummings, W. Auburn, Michigan who collected Witte engines and was to compile a list of Witte engine owners with serial numbers? I have B17363, 25 HP; and B14668, a 7 HP model. Neil Brady-Browne, RR 1, Site 120, C #8, Comox, BC V9N 5N1 Canada.