Readers' Engine Questions

Stewart Little Wonder

Engine is almost complete except missing magneto cap.

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38/5/1: F-M Type N Q: I'm hoping you can help us out with the knowledge you have on Fairbanks-Morse engines. I have a 1900 4 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type N, serial number 12612. We are restoring it and would like to find out what the original color would be. We have found some red on the bottom of the platform, but we don't know if that is the color of the whole engine. Peter W. Tuttle, 403 Water St., West Branch, IA 52358, (319) 643-2586.

CH. Wendel responds:A: That's not a real easy one to answer. The very early ones were a greenish black, very very dark. Then for a short time, especially on the verticals, they used red. At the very same time, many of the engines were a very dark green, but not so dark as earlier. Finally with the 'Z' engines came the familiar green. However in 1930, about the time the ZC came along, it changed again, at least for awhile. A lot of the paint was bought on contract, and there wasn't much of this color matching. Green was about three shades; light, olive and dark. Now we have a little handheld device that spits out a color number after three samples!

38/5/2: Engine Trio

I'm looking for information on three different engines. The first is a Homelite military generator, and I'd like to know when it was made, horsepower rating, etc. The second is a 1929 Fairbanks-Morse Type H 750 watt 115 volt generator. Are there any more of these out there? This is the only one I've ever seen. Finally, I'm looking for information on a marine engine that belongs to a friend of mine. I can't find a name on it, but it has a Krice Model G carburetor, a Detroit lubricator (number 12692), a Mloberdorfer (?) water pump, the number 1608 on the front of the block and the number 012S1433 on the cylinder. Dan Zumstein, 1615 Schaller St., Janesville, WI 53546.

38/5/3: Brigg

I would like some information on this engine. It is a Briggs & Stratton Type FH, serial number 38684. It has no flywheel and the crankshaft has no keyway cut in it, only a governor housing and a pulley. The engine originally had a kick-starter (which is gone). It's a HP engine and has a 2-inch bore. Any information on this engine, and the whereabouts of a kick-starter, would be welcome. Jim Fisher, 2048 Webb St., Stockton, CA 95205-3237.

38/5/4: Horse-Drawn Mower

A neighbor recently got a horse-drawn mowing machine that has us scratching our heads. Each part appears to have what I'd call a stylized German cross cast into it, along with a part number, but there is no brand name anywhere on the machine. The casting numbers are:

Axle: AB 1188

Cutter guide: A 1166

Cutter bar bracket: AC 1221

Pittman shield: AA 1165

Knife guard: AC 881

Does anyone have any idea who made this? Barry Mugglin, 630 County Route 4, Central Square, NY 13036.

38/5/5:John Deere Model A

Help! I have a John Deere Model A tractor with the thermosiphon cooling system. The radiator core is completely shot, and all I can find are the small automotive style cores. Does anyone know of anything else available? John J. (Jim) Wohlfeil, 6040 Eldridge Drive, Waterford, MI 48327-2630, (248) 681-0808.

38/5/6: Alpha Engine

I have an Alpha 3- HP engine, Type E391, serial number 80332, made by the De Laval Company in Peterborough, Ontario. I would like to know what the original color of this engine was, what it might have been used for and any other information you or your readers might be able to supply. Steve Wattenbarger, 430 Highway 11, Rising Fawn, GA 30738.

38/5/7: Geiser Engine

The Charlton Park Gas & Steam Club is looking for information on their sawmill steam engine. It is a Peerless stationary manufactured by Geiser Manufacturing Company, Waynesboro, Pa. The serial number is 15116. We are told it is 75 HP and I measured a 16-inch stroke. It has a trace of very dark green paint and yellow or gold pin stripping. Would anyone know the exact paint color we should get to paint it? We would also like to know the bore diameter and the year of manufacture. Does anyone know how many pounds of steam this engine was designed to run on to produce 75 HP? Is there any literature available on this engine? We would appreciate any information. Lloyd Merchant, 7526 Windsor Hwy. Dimondale, MI, (517) 646-2626

38/5/7: Stewart Little Wonder

I have subscribed to your magazine for about a year and it is great. I have an engine that needs to be identified, and I need one part for it to be complete.

It's an air-cooled, single-cylinder engine with a 2- or 2-1/8-inch bore. The flywheel is 10 inches in diameter. It has a Bosch magneto with the dates 'Oct 17, 1905 Oct 24, Oct 6, 1908' on the tin plate that covers the magnets on the magneto. The part I need is the cover that goes over the points to the magneto, or if nothing else a good picture of the cover so I can machine one. You can see there is a wire clip that holds it in place.

Also, if anyone has any literature on it I would very much like to get a copy. Mark Richey, 644 Del Prado Dr., Boulder City, NV 8900. E-mail:

A: Your engine is a Stewart Little Wonder, built by Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., Chicago, Ill. We ran a picture of one of these engines in the March 2003 issue under the heading 'Unidentified Engine.' At the time we failed to notice what it was. Numerous readers jumped in to clue us in and, justifiably, chide us for not recognizing the engine. With any luck one of our readers can help you find the cover you need.

38/5/8: Railroad Scooter EngineQ: I wonder if someone out there in engine world can help with some information on an engine that, among others, was a favorite of mine as a farm boy in the 1930s on the eastern shore of Virginia.

At that time one of the important freight and passenger tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad ran from Philadelphia down the eastern shore to Cape Charles, from which the railroad operated both passenger steamboats and a tug/barge fleet across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Maintaining the track was very important and the local repair crews, which operated from the little town near our farm, were responsible for some miles of track in each direction. The fascination for me was the railroad 'scooter' they used to tow the tool car, and I'd like to know more about the engine they used. In the last 10 years I have seen two of these engines in private collections as well as one complete scooter, but alas, I was always without camera.

The scooter engine was a large, heavy, air-cooled opposed two-cylinder with exposed pushrod/rocker operated overhead valves and a magneto atop the crankcase. The flywheel face was a completely smooth surface against which a leather-rimmed wheel on a square shaft could be loaded and moved radially for speed change and reverse. I have made a working model of this engine from memory, but still know nothing about the real engine.

I have been told this engine was made by Fairbanks-Morse and was also used in a truck. Perhaps you can correct or verify this and perhaps someone can tell me where I can see one or get a picture. I am interested in the internal parts and the lubrication system - maybe someone out there has had one apart?

H.B. Upshur, 1620 Herron Lane, West Chester, PA 19380, (610) 696-3464.

A: We're not sure what the engine in question might be, but you might want to look at the photo we ran in the November 2001 issue on page 22. That engine belongs to C.H. Wendel, and reader Chuck Rhodes, Collinsville, Ill., identified it as a Buda. Further, Chuck said he had heard they were used in trucks. Chuck sent some old catalog cuts of the engine, which we ran in the January 2002 issue on page 6.

38/5/9: Acme Oil Field Engine

I have an Acme sucker rod oil field engine that I am restoring, and I would like to know what year it is, what color it should be and what its horsepower rating is. There is nothing on the tag, which is on top of the cylinder towards the head. It is serial number 719 and has an 11 -inch bore and an 18-inch stroke. Any help greatly appreciated.

Jerry Fastenow, 906 22nd St., Spirit Lake, IA 51360.

38/5/10: United cylinderQ: I have a 2- HP Type A United engine, serial number 204681. First off, did they ever build United engines in Lansing, Mich.? Second, my engine had an IHC two-bolt mag, and I know the IHC mag was wrong. I have a four-bolt mag and gear, and I also have a 1- HP JD mag. My question is, when did United use a two-bolt mag and when did they use a four-bolt mag? I'd also like to know when the United was made. Bruce Dixon, 8880 Hartel Rd., Grand Ledge, MI 48837.

A: Assuming your engine is tagged United Engine Co., United did indeed operate out of Lansing, Mich. However, United did not build any of its engines. It started in 1911 as United Manufacturer's Association, Jackson, Mich., and moved in 1912 to Lansing, in the process changing its name to United Engine Co. It's thought that early United engines were built by Gilson Manufacturing, Port Washington, Wis. After 1912 they were built by Associated Manufacturers, Waterloo, Iowa.

A Closing Word

As many of you know, C.H. Wendel is still recovering from the stroke he suffered last year, and we've kept his column running, waiting for his eventual return to these pages. The point of this is simply to let everyone know that Wendel is not, with rare exception, presently answering reader queries. We're trying to fill in during the interim, but not surprisingly we're missing some answers Wendel could recite with ease.

C.H. Wendel is a noted authority on antique engines and tractors. His books constitute a vital reference resource for collectors and hobbyists. If you have a query for C.H. Wendel, send it along to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St.,Topeka, KS 66609-1265.