XL machine

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This month we're including a couple of unusual things in our column. The first is a wood wool making machine as they called it in England, or an excelsior machine as we would call it here in the U.S. The illustration is from the September 26, 1924 issue of Machinery Market published in London. It shows the new 'XL' machine of Haighs Ltd., Oldham.

We've often wondered how these machines were built, and in fact, one of our readers inquired a couple of years ago about them. A heavy frame, working in wide and specially built slides, carries a grooving knife at each end. Behind this is a planing knife driven by the connecting rod. A series of grooves are cut into the block by the grooving iron, and the ridges are then cut off by the planing knife.

The pieces of timber are clamped between fluted rollers and fed up to the knives by a gear train. The latter can be adjusted for the desired feed, much as with the change gears on a lathe. This sets the 'thickness' of the shavings. For each 'width' of fibre, separate knives are required, having the proper spacing of the grooves. This machine had a capacity of two blocks of 24 inches thick and 12 inches high, and required only 10 horsepower. Now, if you folks that like to make models want to bring a new sensation to the shows, here ya' go!

A second illustration this month is from the September 25, 1936 issue of Machinery Market. It illustrates an unusual conversion offered by J. & H. McLaren Ltd. at Leeds. As the advertisement states, 'Convert your existing steam ploughing and threshing engines to diesel drive.' Apparently, all the old mechanism, including the smokestack, is removed from the top of the boiler, and a big diesel engine is mounted in its place.

We've never heard of this conversion before, either in England, on the Continent, or here in the States. Did any American builders offer such a conversion? Did the McLaren conversion gain any popularity in England? If we hear anything about this, we'll let you know in later editions.

Ye olde Reflector also wishes to inform you that our history of J. I. Case is now with the publisher, but it will probably be late summer before the finished book can be in your hands. See our ad elsewhere in this issue. We also wish to inform you that we are working on our little handy book of serial numbers, paint colors, and other useful information. This too, should be ready by late summer.

In yet another development, we recently spent an entire week at the Floyd County Historical Society in Charles City, Iowa. This work is in preparation for a book on Oliver, Hart-Parr, Cletrac, and related companies. We shot a lot of film at Charles City, and got a lot of valuable research data. Still, the most deficient areas are Nichols & Shepard and Cletrac. We located the N & S thresher numbers from 1916 to the end. Are there any s/n listings for earlier years? Do any steam engine or tractor serial numbers exist for Nichols & Shepard? Has anyone come ever come across any Cletrac catalogs? How about Nichols & Shepard? Despite a reasonably good literature collection, we've found almost nothing on these two firms. And a final query. How about A. B. Farquhar Company ? Oliver bought them out, and even sold a few Oliver-Farquhar sawmills. Except for a single folder, our files are bare on this company too! So, if anyone is able or willing to help out on yet another research project, kindly let us know, in care of this column.  

Thanks to Newt & Brads Old Engines, 5 Riverside Drive, Merrimack, NH 03054 for sending along a serial number listing on early Wisconsin engines.

Our first query this month is:

26/7/1 Witte Engines Fred Rixe, 1202 South 211th St., Catoosa, OK 74015 writes that Arrow Specialty Co., 2301 E. Independence, Tulsa, OK 74010 has acquired the manufacturing rights to the National Oilwell engines, formerly Witte engines.

26/7/2 Sun Type N Engine Q. J recently acquired a Sun Type N, 1? HP engine, but the crank timing gear is missing. Can anyone tell me if another engine might have the correct gear? If not, can anyone give me the proper dimensions? Also, what is the proper color? Shawn Hatton, RD 4, Honesdale, PA 18431.

A. Assuming the cam gear is present, the crank gear will have exactly half that many teeth. In other words, if you can find someone able or willing to cut you a gear, any machinist worthy of the name should be able to do it with nothing more than the cam gear. We've noticed that a few of our GEM advertisers either offer gears or can cut them for you.

26/7/3 Pneumatic Chainsaw Q. See the two photos of a Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company, Little Giant saw. It has four cylinders, two each at 90 degrees to each other. The cylinders are 2 inch bore and 21/4 inch stroke. One tag reads, Timber Sawing Machine, Reed-Prentice Corporation, Worcester, Mass. s/n 18268. Did C-P make the engine and Reed-Prentice adapt it to a chainsaw? When was it built? Where can I find any instructions, parts literature, etc.? Are any parts available? Otto Ray, 704 Evans Rd., Fieldbrook,CA95521.

A. We can't tell you a thing about this unit, although we have heard about pneumatic chainsaws before. Any help out there?

26/7/4 Sears Farm Master Q. See the photo of a Sears Farm Master, Mode! 811-4. It is identical to the engine shown on page 118 of American Gas Engines. Also on page 459 of the same book it states that the Cub line was added to Sears about 1942-46, and sent them out with a coat of bright yellow paint. However, my engine was originally red. Can any reader supply me with information on the year built, correct color, decals, etc. Any information would be appreciated. Randy J. Martin, 2550 Denniston Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24015.

A. We don't know of any specific information on these engines other than that appearing in the Sears-Roebuck catalogs. However, it is entirely possible that some of these engines could have been sent out with a red coat instead of a yellow one.

26/7/5 Maynard Engine Q. I would like to get in contact with someone who has a Maynard engine, made by Jacobson Machine of Warren, Pa. with ignitor or Webster magneto ignition, preferably a 2-2 ? HP engine. Don Worley, 254 Pleasant Dr., Warren, PA 16365.

26/7/6 Monitor Engine Q. See the photo of a recent acquisition. The previous owner told me it was a 5 HP Monitor built by Baker Mfg. Co. What does the original battery box look like? What is the carburetor like? How are these engines finished and striped? Would anyone having one of these engines please contact me?

Also, I received a letter postmarked Baltimore, Maryland, but there was no return address nor was there a letter inside. I should like to respond to the writer, but have no idea who it might be. So, if someone from the Baltimore area has written me, and has gotten no response, please write again. Dane L. Fuchs, RR 2, Box 173, New Salem, ND58563.

26/7/7 Splitdorf Magneto Q. I have a Splitdorf magneto, Model SS, 4/2, No. 3445. It turns clockwise from the impulse end. The wires are marked 1-3-2-4 3-1-4-2. It has been on my shelf for 30 years, but I do not know what it might fit. Any ideas? Norbert D. Kulsavage, 600 Pleasant Valley Road, Milford, MI 48380.

A. Since it is a 4/2 magneto, it seems logical that this one was intended for use on a two-cylinder engine, even though it was of the standard four cylinder design. In this case however, we would suppose that it has a pair of safety gaps to take care of the unused distributor positions. (This is essential to keep from destroying the high tension coil). Beyond that, we can't tell you, but perhaps some of our magneto experts can be of help.

26/7/8 Page Garden Tractor Q. I would like to hear from anyone with information on the Page garden tractors, including the years built, the proper color scheme, etc. James L. Fennell, 14050 East 'W' Ave., Fulton MI 49052.

A. We're passing this information along to our readers, because we can't be of much help. If you can assist Mr. Fennel, kindly do so.

26/7/9 FBM Model Z Q. I am restoring a Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP Model Z engine, s/n 511105. Can you tell me the year built, and the type of magneto used? Mike Peszynski, 67 Federal St., Newburyport, MA 01950.

A. Your engine was built in 1922. Originally at least, your engine probably was equipped with an American Bosch AB-33 high tension oscillator. However, the engine could well have been retrofitted with the FBM RV-1 rotary or even the FBM Type J magneto at a later date. FBM offered these retrofit kits for most of their engines.

26/7/10 Fairbanks-Morse Q. See the photo of a Fairbanks-Morse 50 HP diesel. It is a Type Y, Style V engine, with a s/n of 037673. The people at FBM say this would put the engine prior to 1911, but that can't be correct. Also, what is the correct color, and what is the speed? The nameplate is missing. Does anyone make repro nameplates for this engine? Eddie Turner, RR 2, Box 279-B, Pamplico, SC 29583.

A. If the first digit of the s/n is'6' instead of '0' then this engine would be of 1925 vintage, and from its appearance, we would guess this to be fairly close. Note that it still uses the 'hot head' design typical of the very early FBM diesels. We believe that about 1926 FBM changed the head design entirely, and began to use atomizing injectors. This then was the beginning of the Model 32 engines that saw significant modifications during the 1930's. However, your engine will inject a tight stream of fuel instead of atomizing it. The atomization takes place due to the heat retained in a portion of the cylinder head.

26/7/11 Fordson Industrial Q. See the two photos of a Fordson tractor with hard rubber tires. This tractor may have been used for grooming a horse racing track. Tom Goepfrich, 1191 E. 900N., Ossian, IN 46777.

A. We'd guess this to be an Industrial version of the Fordson, and as such, we'd guess this to be a rather unusual item.

26/7/12 Banner Engine Q. See the photo of a Banner engine made in Lansing, Michigan, s/n 113576. Many parts look similar to the Waterloo Boy engine. Can anyone supply me with information on this engine?Robert J. Kubisch, 2111 Gilbride Road, Martinsville, NJ 08836.

A. Does the nameplate state, Made By, or Built By this company? Sometimes the companies were a bit devious and used some clever semantics to lead one to believe they built something they never built at all. We strongly suspect this engine came from Waterloo, Iowa. See page 299 of American Gas Engines for a small showing of the Sandow engines from Sandy McManus Inc. This outfit sold a lot of engines for awhile, albeit that they came from the shops of Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. Set the hopper of your Banner engine on the Sandow shown on page 299, and it sure looks to us like the same engine. We're sure not denigrating your engine. We think it is a nice find, especially since this is yet another derivation of the Sandow design. We also think it was built in the same time frame as the Sandow engines, again referring you to the article cited above.