Facts and Fun

Ron Van Horn with His Maytag

Courtesy of Mr. Al Lietzow, Warren Western Reserve High School, Warren, Ohio 44485.

Mr. Al Lietzow

Content Tools

Students at Warren Western Reserve High School Warren, Ohio 44485

The hobby of restoring gas engines has quickly gathered momentum in the shop at Warren Western Reserve High School. Our Power Mechanics instructor is Mr. Preston Foster, whom many of you know. The interest in gas engines began with Mr. Al Lietzow, our Graphic Arts instructor. (Refer to GEM, Vol. 5, No. 3, May-June 1970 for Mr. Foster's story on how it began.) Mr. Lietzow's hobbies are varying but the 3 hp. Fairbanks-Morse 'Z' engine which he brought into the Power Mechanics shop is the one which has aroused the interest in gas engines at Western Reserve High School. Mr. Foster has now become addicted to these little gems and his interest along with that of Mr. Lietzow's in the restoration and preservation of these engines and Early American farm culture is now spreading here at school. Through the opportunity of working on engines which were obtained by and belonged to Mr. Foster and Mr. Lietzow, we became involved and decided that we would like to become engine owners and collectors ourselves.

Mr. Lietzow and Mr. Foster were only too happy to have us accompany them to various shows this past summer. As we attended more and more shows, our interests grew rapidly, and before long, the hunt for our own engines was well underway. These searches were as unique as the engines themselves. Garry's 1? hp. Fairbanks-Morse, Type 'Z' engine was found in a hayloft, in a rickety, old, dilapidated, run down, reasonable facsimile of a barn. Not being fully prepared to remove this engine from the hayloft, we were forced to resort to the equipment and facilities at hand which consisted of our muscle power and one questionable rope. While the engine was being lowered, Mr. Lietzow suddenly yelled, 'the rope is breaking!' When Mr. Foster heard this, he immediately grabbed the end of the rope nearest to him, but Mr. Foster soon realized that he made a mistake in that he had grabbed the broken end of the rope. Therefore, Mr. Lietzow was left with the entire weight of the engine balancing precariously overhead. Luckily though, Mr. Lietzow was able to bring the engine down, somewhat under control, by himself.

Group at Trumbull County Fair -- kneeling, Mr. Preston Foster. Standing left to right: Ron Van Horn, Tom Jones and Garry Keefer.

Tom's engine, a 1? hp. Jaeger, came from Burrough's Used Farm Machinery in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. His engine was passed over many times because of its roughness and because it was buried in mud up to its hopper. Now that it's restored though, one would never know it.

Garry Keefer and restored 'Junk' -- 1? hp. Fairbanks-Morse, Type 'Z'.

Ron Van Horn with his Maytag.

We have had many educating experiences with old gas engines. For instance, Garry has learned that after repairs have been made, and when initially trying to start the engine that unpredictable things may happen. Like kicking back, bouncing around and even trying to set one's pant leg on fire when the cantaknerous engine backfires. Garry is now 'chief of our fire brigade' for when trying to start an engine, Garry is now on the spot with his fire extinguisher. Also Tom has learned how to properly crank an engine after a somewhat painful experience during which he had his face slightly redesigned temporarily by a flying crank. Tom is now one of the most careful and chicken-spined engine crankers we have ever seen.

Also this past summer we had a very rewarding experience when we displayed some engines at the Trumbull County Fair. This held a special significance because this was the first time that such a display was ever held at the Fair. We and three other local collectors (George Bunting, Dick Grimes and Carlos Chamberlain) even received recognition in our local newspaper.

Next summer we hope to learn many things and see a lot of different engines as we plan to display our engines at as many shows as we can attend.

Besides our restoration of the engines, Mr. Lietzow and Garry Keefer in our Graphic Arts department have reprinted many of the gas engine manuals and operating instructions which you, yourself, may have read.

Mr. Lietzow and Mr. Foster aren't the only ones whose interests have rubbed-off on other people. Since our discovery of the fun one can have with gas engines, another student at our school, Ron Van Horn, has made the step-up to owning his own engine. Ron is also a Power Mechanics shop assistant. With Ron as a start, we hope to encourage many more students in gas engines.

Tom Jones and his 1? hp. Jaeger.