MY FIRST HIT & MISS

4 HP Leader

Content Tools

25 N. Front Street Mountaintop, Pennsylvania 18707

Saturday morning found me standing at a farm sale, with a damp, chilly wind at my back. In spite of the threatening clouds, a fair crowd was gathering, probably happy to be outdoors after a long winter.

All the usual stuff was there: antique furniture, barn goodies, farm implements, a tractor or two, even hot coffee and bean soup offered up by a local church group.

After checking out the barn and sheds, I was feeling somewhat disappointed, because I didn't see what I was really looking for. Maybe, just maybe, I might finally find an open crankshaft motor 'all by myself!' Since my first show several years ago, I'd been wanting one, but I had to be the one to find it. Oh well, maybe next time.

I went through all the 'auction motions,' bought several tractor advertising collectibles, and then followed the auctioneer and the crowd around the back of a shed to sell a pile of scrap iron.

WELL, I'LL BE...!! There, alongside the pile, was a pair of fly wheels-no,-a whole motor! The flywheels told me it was a Leader (Field Force Pump Co., see GEM May 90). I guessed about 5 HP. It looked to be in sad shape, badly rusted, but I had to have it. I tried to be casual, but my determination must have shown, because the other two bidders dropped out shortly after we hit triple digits. 'You paid too much,' commented one of my opponents, 'for a motor in such poor condition.' Oddly enough, his idea of too much was $5.00 more than he bid.

With the help of some friends, I urged my treasure onto the pickup, drove it home, and unloaded it. I couldn't wait to start working on it, so after taking some pictures for the record, I proceeded to tear it down.

What a surprise! Instead of rust, I found a good bore and piston, good bearings, and fairly good valves. It even had an extra oiler, and the original hand crank in the hopper. All it needed was to be 'freshened' with some minor parts fabrication, a few springs, and a new paint job.

This all went smoothly, as I have restored several tractors and other motors of later vintage. Now the fun really began. Having no instruction manual, I had to rely on my own experience to get the timing-firing sequence properly set up.

Turn the flywheel, watch the mechanism. Turn the flywheel, watch the mechanism.

Turn the flywheel, watch my fingers!!

OUCH!! What a mess! Two fingers mangled, three hours in a crowded emergency room (at eight o'clock in the evening), and the trip to a bone specialist-my fingers should be all right, but my fingernails might look a little funny. Oh, well, this is to be expected.

After a day's rest, I couldn't wait to get back to work. Turn the flywheel (left hand), watch the mechanism. Is there a pattern forming here? You guessed it-two fingers on my left hand mangled!

Now my pride hurts. Not only are my fingertips gone, but I think my wife is starting to doubt my abilities, as she insists on visiting the garage almost hourly, to count my fingers. I'm not accident prone or careless. I work construction and have operated power tools and machinery all my life with only a couple of minor injuries. I even read an article on safety in GEM. How could this happen?

My son's friend said it all when he said that I was turning the flywheel just like I was starting my John Deere tractor (nothing to catch your fingers on there). It told me that although machines may have similar parts, they are different and require different techniques and procedures. Look for dangerous areas and avoid them!

On a happy note, all that turning and watching paid off, as my 4 HP Leader started on the third revolution (with the original hand crank, of course) and still runs fine.

With this project completed and my fingers healing, I'm looking forward to my next 'safe' encounter with another 'find.'