Restoration With a Big Surprise

Frisco standard 4 HP stationary engine

'Frisco' standard 4 HP stationary purchased in Santa Rosa, CA.

Content Tools

P.O. Box 618, Allyn, Washington 98524-0618

I acquired a 'Frisco' Standard 4 HP stationary sideshaft engine in April 1997. Most Frisco Standard engines were marine type, so I was happy with this find. Of course, restoration was in order. As the photos show, restoration proceeded well as I broke down each unit for degreasing, sandblasting, etc. I had to renew the sideshaft so my machinist friend did some machine work for me, namely boring out the rusted shaft from pieces attached. My next problem was to get the piston out. It was stuck, of course! I was told when I purchased it that it shouldn't be too hard to remove, as the exhaust had always been covered and oil had been placed in the exhaust to cover the top of the piston. That had been done as mentioned, but the exhaust valve was closed, so no oil got into the cylinder. I bought a new anti-seize product at the local auto parts store that worked wonders on the piston and I got it out without too much of a problem. I removed all the piston rings and got them ready for reuse. I honed the cylinder wall, which was now in good shape. Next came the biggest problem of all: the crankshaft was badly pitted on the sideshaft bearing side, the worm gear (spiral helical) on the crank shaft was half gone, and the remaining teeth weren't much better. The matching gear that was on the sideshaft was in good shape. The crank was spray-welded and turned down to its original size, 1.5 inches. A new gear or a replacement was in order. It was pressed off by the local machine shop, coming off in one piece. I'll discuss the replacement problem further in this article.

The next project was to get the valves out in one piece. Again, my local machine shop (automotive type) did a wonderful job and saved the valves. They were reusable Great! I sandblasted the head and it also came out great. With the head now done, I primed and painted it close to its original color what else but green! The base required little work, needing only to be sandblasted and painted. The cylinder was something else. It needed to have that hole patched! I obtained a piece of cast-iron pipe with the same OD as the water jacket. With a template of the existing opening, I cut the cast-iron pipe with a saber saw. I set the piece in place using two sheet metal screws to obtain the right height. I then made four tapered holes in the corners with a cone-shaped burr and inserted four screws. With the new piece firmly in place, I ground all the screws flush and wire-brushed before applying an epoxy that met all the specs for heat and water.

I sent the ignitor to a GEM advertiser, Mr. Brook over, with a picture of the original ignitor, and he did a great job rebuilding it. The governor/throttle control was assembled, cleaned and placed on the shelf to await installation later. Remember this paragraph, as it will play a big part in this story!

Now, back to the worm gear. My first choice was to send it to a GEM advertiser to make. They sent it back to me as they couldn't make it, so I needed to find someone else. I got an estimate from a gear shop for $700.00, but thought that was a little steep. All the machinists I know personally didn't have the right set-up to make the gear. After talking and looking for three months, I was told about a friend of a friend at the Brooks EDGETA Engine Show who had a gear like mine.

When he showed up, he did have a crankshaft almost identical to mine. He didn't want any cash for it, but would trade for a whistle he wanted if I would buy it. This exchange sure beat the $700.00 estimate I had been quoted previously. When I took my prize home, I promptly compared his crank with mine. They were a little different, but close. His crank was for a 4 HP Frisco Standard marine engine and mine was a 4 HP stationary engine. I now had to press the gear off with my newly acquired 'H' frame press. With the gear now off and cooling down, I was anxious to press it on my shaft and get it installed. Wouldn't you know it? The gear was a loose fit. For a better fit, I had that section of the shaft spray-welded. With the gear again pressed on, I started to put all the other pieces together.

With the engine all put back together and timed, I primed it and got it to 'pop,' but it wouldn't run. What now? I loaded it on my truck and took it to my good friend, Dale. If anybody could get this engine to run, it would certainly be Dale. He checked the timing, etc., and all looked good. To get it up to about 140 rpm, we belted it up to his John Deere crawler. It still wouldn't run, so back to the drawing board. It was determined that the valves and seats should be remachined and the spring on the mechanical intake be made stronger so the valve wouldn't chatter.

With the valves completed and a new spring, I hauled it back to my friend Dale's place on October 10, 1997six months after I had acquired it in California. Now with all the work and help from my friends, it just had to run! We repeated the first scenario with the John Deere crawler to get it up to the correct rpm and guess what? Again, it wouldn't start! What a disappointment! Dale asked, 'Don, did you overhaul the throttle control and put it together right?' I assured him that I had done that. After another conference with all hands, it was decided to remove the throttle control, as it was determined that gas was not getting drawn up through the unit and it was 'all my fault!' At this point, I accepted responsibility and said, 'Let's check it out!'

We removed the throttle control, disassembled it and found it was done correctly, but would you believeinside the 90 degree elbow between the control and the head, it was completely plugged with mud daubers. What a surprise! While the throttle control unit had been sitting on the shelf waiting to be put back on my engine, those wasps had really done me in! After a good cleaning, the control was reinstalled and the engine started with very little effort. It is now a smooth-running and very interesting engine. It runs counter-clockwise.