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Electric Power Plants

This is an update of the article in GEM December 1982 issue, page 12, about Ready-Power Mfg. lifetime electric power plants.

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3711 S. Hampton Drive Bettendorf, Iowa 52722.

As of this date I know of two sizes: 1 KW powered by a 1? to 2? International Model LA engine, and a 2 KW powered by a 3 to 5 HP International Model LA engine.

The alternators were built by LeLand Electric of Dayton, Ohio. They had a 120 volt AC and a 12 volt DC winding in them. Each were fitted with a flywheel V belt pulley of Ready-Power's design.

The Ready-Power Company of Detroit, Michigan, manufactured the main mounting base for the unit and cast a special heavy flywheel that had cooling fins and double V belt grooves for the engine.

They made an outer cooling coil ring for the engine coolant by using air compressor after cooler tubing and brass castings of their design to direct coolant from the top of the hopper past the flywheel cooling fins, into the lower head of the engine. This thermosyphon process allowed for long run times without adding any new coolant. To make a quieter engine the steel cam gear was replaced with a fiber material cam gear!

To mount the fuel tank, and no need for a power output shaft, the cam shaft on these engines was cut off at its bearing outer edge. This left room to install a frost-plug here in the engine block to seal oil in and keep dirt out. Some of these units had a remote starting ability. This was done with the installation of 12 volt solenoids on the fuel shutoff valve and the carburetor choker plate and controlled from this panel through wire cable and a car battery of 12 volts.

To start the engine, the D.C. 12 volt winding in the alternator is motorized and turns the engine over until it starts or the operator stops the cranking command.

The generator to engine r.p.m. ratio was 2 to 1, with the engine at 900 r.p.m. and generator at 1800. The two groove V belt generator pulley was also a flywheel. This made a steady AC power flow output.

As for the company called 'Ready-Power' of Detroit, Michigan, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce only knew that they were among some companies that were lost in a flood in the early 1940's and all records were lost. With the rapid expansion of rural R.E.A., their market was lost and the factory wasn't replaced.

As for the company of 'LeLand Electric' of Dayton, Ohio, it was divided into two divisions-an electric motor and an electronic division. The motor division was sold to Howard Electric Motor Company of Plainsville, New Jersey, and the electronic division is now LeLand Electinosystem, Inc., of Vandalia, Ohio.

I found both units at Portland, Indiana shows, the 2 KW in 1983 and the 1 KW in 1984.

The 1 KW unit was missing the alternator and its pulley, but I picked one up at the Waukee, Iowa Swap Meet in 1984- It was on a Farm Hand power plant, minus a pulley.

As for the flywheel pulley that was missing, Mr. Walter Ellis of Komoka, Canada, had the small unit. He took his pulley off of his unit and took it to a friend on the U.S. side of the border and that fellow sent it by UPS to me. I made a casting from this pulley flywheel and I returned it his U.S. friend, and he took it back across the border on a visit.

The two original engines, they were in bad shape! I had to go on quite a hunt for I.H.C. LA's & LB's to get enough good parts but still I didn't have a good camshaft for each engine. Seems like each one had one bad lobe on it and I had three of each for both engines.

I welded up one each and had it ground. The lifters were flat and the hard face was gone, so I took lifters from small Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engines and drilled the I.H.C lifters to take the guide diameter and shortened them and pressed them together.

I used LB heads and rocker assembly to get the auto oiling of the valve guide and better design of inter-head cooling. I found a new .050-over piston, rings, pin, assemblies from a man up in Canada for each size, but had to turn up all the bearings (crank & cam) myself.

By the time I got the larger unit bought, the owner had taken it home already! This was Oblong, Illinois. But luck was on my side. A collector, Don Hahn, from Keota, Iowa, had also bought an item from him and was going after his engine with pump jack unit. He said that he could bring mine to his place after corn was in the bin.

To get both items into an El Camino the generator had to be removed from the unit and placed between Mrs. Hahn's feet in the cab, in order that the front end of the El Camino came down to drive it!

I took both units back to the Portland Show in 1987 and placed a sign asking if anyone knew of any others. Only one fellow said he had one! Turned out to be Mr. Ellis, who had lent me his generator flywheel-pulley from his unit.

By this, I believe this is the only set that's together! I would like any information to make this history of the 'Ready-Power' generator units as correct as possible.