17 Ton Engine

Content Tools

6419 West Main, Turlock, California 95380

Greetings from the far West and the Central Valley of California. May we share with you a unified effort by a group of seven experienced old iron collectors to restore this large engine as pictured.

It is a 110 HP 2 cycle 2 cylinder hot head oil engine manufactured by the Continental Gin Company in Birmingham, Alabama around about 1920.

The Continental Gin Company was a large factory with impressive facilities to fabricate power plants for cotton gins and also for utility power companies.

Several years ago this engine was located in Yuma, Arizona, in a state of disrepair when a local cotton gin was dismantled. The period of service was from 1924 to 1949. It was located by Percy Goesch of Hughson, California while on a winter vacation in that area.

To transport a 17? ton engine to the Turlock and Modesto area was going to require lots of help with an ambitious effort to restore it back to running order. After considerable negotiations and planning, a group of seven members was formed to share the work and expense. 'Continental Seven One Ten' was the name chosen by members: PercyGoesch, Ivan Lowe, Harlan Segars, Jim Johnson, Duane Johnson, David Lyons and Gary Crow. The initial purchase was handled by Percy. The loan of a large diesel truck and lowboy trailer was promoted by Duane. So, during a long holiday weekend most of the group made the long trip and succeeded in loading up the heavy machinery to bring back home, a distance of 650 miles.

In due course of time the engine was cleaned up and painted. All component parts were overhauled, the massive flywheels had to be installed. A complete hook-up of the cooling system and fuel supply was accomplished. During this activity a 12 wheel low-boy trailer was purchased on which this engine was mounted. As a show-piece this portability was needed for pulling to local county fair for display.

It was a rewarding occasion and cause for celebration when we started it for the first time. It took a cooperative effort of all seven operational in time for the Fair. While at the Fair large crowds gathered to see it start and run.

Starting procedure requires the use of compressed air. This system had to be developed along with all the other functions. The compressor is an all Fairbanks-Morse unit of similar vintage, the 3 HP engine burning kerosene. A 150 gallon receiving tank was installed providing just enough air capacity for one revolution to fire the big engine. While waiting for the build-up of air pressure both of the hot heads are pre-heated by kerosene torches.

Because of its smooth running characteristics it runs well, supported by four built-in house jacks. With no load to pull, it is quiet running, however, the old timers say that when it was in actual operation it could be heard for 12 miles.

It runs on a mixture of diesel and oil. Since we run it only intermittently, we have no idea what the rate of consumption would be.

As to more technical specifics- total weight is over 22 tons. It is a 2-cylinder, 2-cycle simple diesel, scavenging air from below through flutter valves into the crankcase into the air ports. Both cylinders are 14' in diameter with a 20' stroke. The crankshaft is T in diameter with a length of nearly 10 feet. Each flywheel weighs 4260 pounds. The muffler weighs 2200 pounds, and the exhaust ports are 12' in diameter. Rated horsepower is 110. The original RPM was 225, but we cut it down some.

The entire venture had gratifying results. Total man hours put in on this project are uncountable. Out-of-pocket money will exceed $2000. As one can see, a thing of this magnitude requires a group effort.