I Needed a Project Engine?

Bringing a 2 HP 1907 IHC Famous Back to Life Proves to be a Lesson in Patience

2 HP 1907 IHC Famous

Various pieces of the 2 HP 1907 IHC Famous on initial disassembly and cleaning. The engine was, to be kind, in rough shape.

Content Tools

The Luckey (Ohio) Fall Festival Association's September show is the last show of the year for me. It's the last time of the season to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of old tractors and engines, and it's my last shot at getting some of that great engine show food - there's nothing else like it.

At the 2001 show I met up with Larry Massey, who drives down from Michigan almost every year and sets up a display. Larry and I were doing what engine people do at shows - looking at stuff and talking a lot - and one of the fellows set up there had a trailer load of engines for sale. Larry pointed to an IHC Famous at one end of the trailer and said, 'That's what you need, a project engine.' It was a project engine all right - it was rough and most of the parts were in a pair of five-gallon buckets, rusted up tight.

At the time I was half way through a two and a half year restoration of a Bates and Edmonds, and the thought of taking on another project that was in even rougher condition than the Bates didn't have much appeal, so I didn't give the IHC another thought.

Four or five months later I was at Larry's shop and asked him if he remembered the guy who was selling the engines at Luckey. As it turned out, the guy had been at Larry's shop the previous weekend doing some engine trading, and Larry gave me the fellow's name and phone number.

Taking the Plunge

A few weeks later I gave Paul Sheldrick a call, and before long I was on my way to his place in Ohio to take a better look at the 1907 2 HP Famous. Before I went, however, I came up with a copy of an owner's manual that had a parts breakdown of the engine so I would have some idea of what parts were missing.

Giving the engine a good look over, I was surprised to see that all the hard-to-find small parts were still with the engine. It wasn't without its problems, however, as the cylinder and cylinder head were cracked and the cylinder would have to be replaced or resleeved. The only major part missing, other than the muffler and oiler, was the cam gear. Armed with this information, I returned home.

Once home I called Ron Huetter in Detroit, Mich. Ron is the International man in our part of the state, and we talked over the engine and how best to go about repairing it. The biggest problem, we agreed, would be finding a cam gear, and while Ron didn't know anyone who had one he was sure we could find one, in time. Based on this I decided to go ahead and buy the Famous, so I went and picked it up and stuck it in a corner in my shop. I was still working on the Bates, so I didn't have any real time to spend on the Famous. I did, however, start looking for parts, and I decided not to spend any money repairing the cylinder or crankshaft until I found a cam gear. I asked an engine buddy who lives nearby if he would put together a list of people who might have the parts for my engine, and he came up with two pages of names and phone numbers.

The Famous as found (inset) presents a remarkable contrast to its final, restored condition. Showing serial number KA6975, Paul Frasier's Famous dates to 1907, the second year of production for the Famous line, which lasted until 1917. Although IHC built vertical engines In 1905, they did not carry the Famous name until 1906.

As I started going down the list and calling people, I soon realized there is no such thing as a quick phone call with engine guys - there is just too much to talk about. I asked each person I called if he knew anyone who might have the parts I needed, and added their name to the list. The phone calls finally led me to Harold Ottaway in Kansas, who not only had the cam gear I needed but was an excellent source for information on IHC engines. Critically, Harold supplied me with a drawing and pictures of the cooling tank - I have been going to shows for 15 years now and have never seen an original sized cooling tank for this engine.

The frost damage to the cylinder was clearly visible after cleaning. This had been repaired before, and the engine was still being worked in this condition.

During the time it took to find the cam gear, I took a few small parts to work every week and did whatever it took to free them up. I was able to save and reuse all the fittings and brass unions in the fuel lines. The fittings have a round lip on them and they were original. I did, however, have to make all new fuel lines.

The Restoration Begins

When I finished restoring my Bates I started work on the Famous in earnest - it was time to spend some money. This engine had sat out in the weather for a long, long time. All of the steel parts, like nuts, bolts, valves, springs and shafts, had to be repaired or replaced. The cast iron parts were in good shape except where they had been machined, where it showed some serious pitting. I ordered repair parts from Starbolt, and Bill sold me every spring the engine uses as well as piston rings and decals. I welded the crack in the cylinder head, oversized the valve guides, made new valves and ground the valve seats. Little did I know that even more work would be needed on the head before I would finally be done.

The cylinder head after initial cleaning. Close inspection shows a large crack running along the outside of the head at about the 11 o'clock position.

At some point in time the pulley side flywheel came loose and really did a job on the keyway in the crankshaft. Something had to be done, as it was not useable as it was. I decided I would try and make the repairs myself, so I welded up the keyway and then turned it back to size, and then set it up in my mill and recut the keyway. It turned out so well I went ahead and repaired the other keyway and any other damaged or rusted spots on the crankshaft. Once I finished all that I sent it out to have the rod journal welded up and reground.

I wasn't sure where to send the cylinder, but I talked to a few people at the Portland, Ind., show and they recommended a shop in Cecil, Ohio. I welded all the freeze cracks and sent it to them to be resleeved.

I made a new plunger for the fuel pump, cleaned the check valves and relapped their seats. I cut a large hole in the top of the fuel tank and sandblasted the inside, soldered up the holes and then gave it three coats of sealer. I worked the igniter over as well, giving it a new shaft and springs. The crankshaft gear was rougher than I first thought, and it wasn't until I sandblasted it that I realized how bad it really was. I couldn't find a new one, so Larry made one from raw stock. There were many other small parts made up, and in time everything finally came together.

The keyway on the crankshaft was badly damaged from rust, so Paul welded It up and then recut the keyway before sending the crankshaft out for renewal.

The keyway on the crankshaft was badly damaged from rust, so Paul welded It up and then recut the keyway before sending the crankshaft out for renewal.

First Fire

When the crank and cylinder came back the repairs looked good. So good I just couldn't help myself - I just had to fit everything and put the block and cylinder together. With new rings in a new cylinder the engine was tight and hard to turn over. I added extra oil to the crankcase as I wanted the engine to get all the lubrication it could get, and with the block and cylinder together I cranked it over every chance I had, hoping to run in the rings and make it turn over a little easier. In time it did loosen up a little, or my arm was getting stronger; I'm not sure which.

The first start-up was quite exciting. I cranked it up, it fired about three times, and then exhaust smoke came pouring out all the water outlets in the head and cylinder and it stalled - that's not a good thing. I tried to restart it, even though I knew it wouldn't. In the end the cylinder head had to come back off a couple more times so I could repair gasket leaks at the cylinder head and igniter. With the gasket leaks finally fixed the engine ran well. I ran it all summer, and the only thing I had to mess with was the ignition timing. And remember all that extra oil I gave it? It's all over the shop floor.

Rust damage to some of the steel parts on the engine was quite severe. This shows the crankshaft gear off the Famous, which looked okay until Paul cleaned it. Paul replaced this with a new gear.

Happy and satisfied everything was working, I sent the cooling tank drawing I got from Harold to John Wanat in Connecticut so John could make one up for me. This is a very large tank, mind you, about 42 gallons. I made engine skids and a battery box, and then I gave Don Obenholtzer of Ohio a call and ordered wheels and hardware for the cart - this thing is too heavy to drag around. When summer was over everything came back apart for a good cleaning and a final painting. By spring of 2002 it was all back together and ready for the show season.

So what's my next project? I think I'll start cleaning the mess in the garage.

Contact engine enthusiast Paul Frasier at: 12234 Harris, Carleton, Ml 48117.