REFLECTIONS

A Brief Word

Kermath marine engine

31/10/1

James Potee

Content Tools

Typically, our inquiries drop off dramatically during July and August. After all, most people are spending their time displaying their restorations of last winter as well as buying new iron for their 1996-97 winter projects. Thus, we've combined a report of our recent British tour, along with a dozen photographs highlighting a few of the interesting sights and sounds.

We saw some ancient crafts revived at Tatton Park and elsewhere. Particularly impressive was the foot-powered 'pole lathe.' A block of wood is split to approximate dimensions and is then cut to length and put in the lathe. The operator wraps a strong cord around the piece, and by pushing down on the foot treadle, it turns between centers. By careful manipulation of the cutting tool, the piece is quickly rounded for about 2/3 of its length, and is then quickly turned end-for-end to rough out the remainder. A strong flexible tree limb serves as a return spring on the pole lathe, so the spindle turns back and forth.

The spindles in genuine Windsor chairs were made in this manner for many years, and even with mechanization of the process, this ancient hand method was still faster than what could be achieved with highly mechanized methods. A good artisan could split out a rough block, put it on centers, cut and finish it, and be ready for another in four minutes or less!

Although much slower than wood, early metal cutting was accomplished in much the same manner. It's always hard to put things in a historical perspective, and it's even more difficult to conceive of the crude methods used by our ancestors as the magnificent machine tool industry was developed. Yet, it all goes back to crude machines like the pole lathe.

The other day we ran across an article in the August 2, 1906 issue of American Machinist outlining the history of Babbitt metal and its inventor, Isaac Babbitt. The latter was born at Taunton, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1799, and died on May 26, 1862. After an apprenticeship in the goldsmith's trade he became quite interested in the production of alloys, and in 1824 he became the first person in the United States to produce brittania metal. Used for various types of cookware, brittania metal consisted of 88.9% tin, 7.4% antimony, and 3.7% copper. Thus, Babbitt's original bearing metal was simply brittania metal. However, little is known of his methods of mixing the metals to form the alloy, and therein was the secret to Babbitt's success.

Regarding the mixing of metals to form the alloy, it has been determined that Babbitt developed a specific order during the process, adding a portion of one metal, then another, and so on, until the full quantity of each had been added to the kettle.

Eventually the babbitt would take on a brilliant glitter under normal usage, however, all that glitters it not genuine babbitt, and within twenty years after his invention, there were numerous alloys sold as babbitt, but containing considerable proportions of lead. Many of these were sold under fancy titles, and were satisfactory for slow speeds and light loads, but a total failure outside of these circumstances.

For those wishing to try making their own babbitt metal, the first requirement is a graphite or carbide crucible. A cast iron kettle is okay, so long as no zinc will be used in the alloy. Zinc and cast iron kettles do not agree well with each other.

Select your desired formula. Now, after first melting the base metal, whether tin, lead, or zinc, dissolve the hardening agents, such as antimony therein at a gentle heat, using sawdust, tallow, or powdered sal ammoniac as a flux.

Babbitt metal is technically speaking, a tin alloy. However, commercial usage has applied the name to all alloys capable of the same duty as the original and genuine babbitt. Tin-base babbitt is the best, followed by lead-base, and lastly, is zinc-base metal.

Our queries begin with:

31/10/1 Kermath Marine Q. See the photo of a Kermath marine engine. Any information on this engine would be greatly appreciated. James Potee, 2303 Evans, Valparaiso, IN 46383.

31/10/2 Cushman Cub Q. I have a Cushman Cub, Model 1R5B, s/n 57769. Can anyone tell me when this engine was built? Also, are there two or three of the Cushman Cub decals on the hopper? Carl Starr, 401 N. Loyal sock Ave., Montoursville, PA 17754-1317.

31/10/3 John Deere 9020 Q. I bought the John Deere 9020 shown in the photo at a Nebraska auction. No one has been able to supply any information. It is powered by a Caterpillar 8'Cylinder engine. I think it was built in the 1960s, can anyone help? Ed Varga, Rt. 1, Rosebush, Ml 48878.

A. We have no information on this tractor. Can anyone be of help?

31/10/4 Sattley Engine Q. See the photos of my Sattley 3HP engine, s/n 3030. I got this engine from an older man who had 12 old engines. This engine has been redone with new rings, bearings, and an all-new magneto. However, I need a complete governor and gear. Can anyone help, please? Photos, copies, or any information will be greatly appreciated.

Also, can anyone tell me when this engine was made, and how was it painted and striped? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Bill Petseo, 226 N. Morrison, Centralia. IL 62801.

A. According to an old Montgomery & Ward catalog, the gasoline models were painted black, (DuPont DS001), and the kerosene models were painted brown, comparable to DuPont 23254. We don't know the color(s) of the striping. Later model Sattley engines were green, similar to DuPont 7498.

31/10/5 Reeves Engine Q. I have acquired a Reeves 2HP engine (Reeves Pulley Company) s/n 5588. Does anyone have any information outside of that given in American Gas Engines relative to dating this engine? The color listed for this engine is red with royal blue flywheel rims, and gold pin-striping. Can you recommend color match numbers? I would appreciate hearing from other Reeves owners regarding the paint color matches they have used. My engine is missing most of the speed regulation and ignition system, with want ads also being run in GEM. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Ralph Reeves, PO Box 963, Miss. State, MS 39762.

A. We have DuPont RS907 Red listed as a good match for the Reeves.

A Closing Word

As we noted at the beginning, this month's queries are quite short, and that's a usual scenario at this time of year. We always find it hard to concentrate ourselves at the desk when it's a beautiful day outside, and old iron, or other things, beckon us. We suppose it's quite the same with all of you folks.

Research is being developed at the present time for a comprehensive history of Witte engines, much like our earlier books on Stover, Fairbanks-Morse, and others. By the time the leaves begin to fall, we hope to have most of our material together so that writing, layout, and printing of this book can come to completion during the winter months. Meanwhile, we'll also be refurbishing our old ATF Chief 20 press. Along with a new set of rollers, we've got a few days worth of adjusting and tuning to get it back up into prime operating condition. We're not sure how many of you are involved in the printing business, but restoring and refurbishing an old press is almost as addictive as restoring an old engine or an old tractor.

If you've been thinking of joining us on our tour of Australia next February, write us for a tour brochure and booking form at Box 257, Amana, IA 52203. This promises to be a tour of a lifetime. The three weeks in Australia will be followed by another two weeks in New Zealand, with the latter tour including a huge tractor rally. Those interested can go on either, or both tours. Let us know if you're interested, as it's not likely that we'll be scheduling another tour to Australia and New Zealand for several years. As with our previous tours, we provide as much flexibility as possible. For instance, if someone would rather go shopping or engage in other activities, that's perfectly okay with us, so long as you're on hand when the coach departs for another location. So ladies, if you're wondering whether you'll be stuck looking at the old iron which fascinates your partner so much, we'll put it this way: Our tours attempt to provide as much freedom as possible, and many folks tell us that we provide more freedom of movement than almost any tour you'll find.