My First Hit and Miss Engine

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1072 Fourth St. Ext, Charleroi, Pennsylvania 15022

I am a new subscriber to GEM, and I received my first copy, the December issue, a couple of days ago. Looking through it, I read several items concerning the gas engine. This gave me an urge to write a story of my first encounter with a hit and miss engine.

I went to many farm auctions over the years, when my dad was living. I started to go way back at-the age of 10 years old, until Dad died in 1964 at age 72. I am now 74 years old, so you know how many years I have spent at auctions. Way back in 1960 we went to a farm auction where I bought my first hit and miss engine. I still remember the family name: the Harry McCracken Farm.

We went into a barn and there, sitting in a corner by itself, was a hit and miss engine, the first one I had ever seen. I knew I had to have it! I bid on it and it was mine to take home for $5.00. It was a McCormick-Deering, manufactured by Inter national Harvester Company, similar to the name of the family having the auction: McCracken.

We brought it home and tried to start it, but we didn't have much success. It would fire late or sound out of time, just a puff. That's all Dad and I could get out of it: puff-puff! We gave it up for a while, after a few weeks of trying to get it to run.

I worked at a steel mill, and coming home from work at 4:00 p.m. one afternoon, I pulled over at the garage (I live in the country), and Dad had the engine outside and it was chugging away! I remember the big smile on his face as I got out of the truck. I asked him how he got it started. He told me, 'You will never believe what the trouble was.' He said, 'It was the crank!'

The crank to the engine had a sleeve with slots to fit the crankshaft, which slipped into the crank with a cotter key. The cotter key was straight in the crank. He said he took the cotter key out and turned the sleeve around. Looking at the engine from the front, the crank was turning the engine over clockwise with late firing. Reversing the sleeve one has to crank the engine counter clock wise. We came to the conclusion that the farmer had a few younger children and he reversed the sleeve so no one could start the engine.

My dad was born and raised on a farm and I always looked up to him as a very smart man.

The engine has been stored over in the shed for a few years. After receiving my Gas Engine Magazine, I got the urge and was curious to hear it run again. I pulled out the spark plug and shot five or six squirts of gas into the opening, filled up the piston oiler, and put water in the hopper. The first turn of the crankoff it went! I was amazed. Puff! Puff! Puff! What a sound. I am now going to restore it for the younger generation to hear run. It's another hobby to keep me busy!

richard iacono
4/12/2009 12:30:43 PM

Old gas engines are awesome, old gas and steam remind me of simpler times