My Summer of Engine Activity

1926 Fairbanks-Morse 80 HP, 300 rpm'

A. L. McGowen

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Scout Troop Visit on April 27, 1974 - the scouts are posed around the 1926 Fairbanks-Morse 80 HP, 300 rpm.

Courtesy of A. L. McGowen, Route 4, Box 379, Easley, South Carolina 29640

Down here in South Carolina around the last of March and the first of April, spring really begins to blossom. This is also the time an old engine enthusiast begins to start getting the fever to attend an engine show and display the engines he has restored during the winter and also renew acquaintance with old friends.

My summer of engine activity usually starts with dewinterization of the large Fairbanks-Morse diesels, by draining all the sumps where water has collected due to condensation, and refilling the cooling systems. Almost any day after the weather turns warm I can expect someone to stop by for a visit, and his first interest is to see the large F. M. diesel fired up. On April 13, Mr. Lloyd G. Hallead and wife from Michigan stopped by for a visit and demonstration on their way to Florida.

The first engine show in our area is held in Dillon, South Carolina which is a good four (4) hours drive for me. It was beginning to look as if the traveling for pleasure would be very restricted due to the gas shortage, but at about this time of the year things begin to get better. I knew with a light load I could make the distance one way on a tank of gas and had been assured of an equal amount for the return trip home.

I had been working all winter on a 1924, 5 H.P. throttle governor Hercules on a 1914, 6 H.P. Fair banks-Morse. These engines had really been a challenge to restore because of their rusty condition, but after many hours of work and worry I was proud and anxious to show them off. So on April 20 my local engine friends and I started to go to our first 1974 engine show with three (3) truck loads of engines. The weather was perfect and as for any engine show the renewal of old friendship and engine discussion was great. My Dad and brother, whom I hadn't seen since New Year's, met me there and that is always enjoyable. They don't have any engines, but as both have been mechanics most of their lives, really know how to appreciate a good running and well restored engine.

Well, with the first engine show of 1974 over, the next few weeks of work would have to be concentrated on the planting and working of a garden, cutting grass and doing general yard work. I was also hoping to finish a storage garage 20' x 30' that I had started in the fall of 1973, but due to the economy situation after the top was covered, I decided to stop the completion until the spring of 1975.

On April 24 an engine enthusiast, Charles Calvert, whom I had not met, called to see if I would help him with a 5 H.P. Stover he was trying to get started. Mr. Calvert and I have had a very good engine working relationship this summer and as beginner's luck would have it, he called me last night to say he had found a 1 H.P. Mogul Jr.

Another first in my engine adventure came on April 27 when a co-worker brought his scout troop and adult leaders for a visit. One would be surprised at the questions a 12-14 year old boy can ask about internal combustion engines.

With the garden and yard work under control on May 2, I started to restore my first IHC, Type M engine. I have a complete set, 1-1/2 HP to 10 HP, of these engines and have been anxious to get started on their restoration. After three month's work the little 1-1/2 H.P. IHC ran as well as any engine I have ever restored. I planned to take it to the engine show in July at Denton, North Carolina.

Restored 1923 IHC 3 HP, a product of this summer's engine activity.

Courtesy of A. L. McGowen, Route 4, Box 379, Easley, South Carolina 29640.

On May 9, Mr. Eugene Brown from Butler, Pa. came for a visit. Mr. Brown so happens to have a 1-1/2 HP Economy (Hercules). To see the large 80 HP F.M. run, really was a treat for him.

Those of you who understand the language of engines know what I mean when I say an engine will actually talk to you. One such fellow, Don Brandt from Schenectady, New York, broke this language barrier on May 21 during a visit with another co-worker, Andy Johnson. Don's itchy throttle fingers could hardly wait for me to take him through the starting procedures on the big 80 H.P.F.M. Don is one of a few who has a special feeling and appreciation for machinery of years gone by.

Usually, during a visit from some one, you do all the showing, but this condition was reversed on June 2 when a neighbor, Lance Dunn, and a guest from Colorado arrived in a Model 'A'. I don't believe a new one on the show room floor ever looked better.

With school out and vacation near, plus the garden produce to freeze and can, the engine restoration had to be set aside for a few weeks.

The month of July would mean the start up of the 1-1/2 HP. IHC as I had mentioned before and my first visit to the engine show at Denton, North Carolina. On this trip I carried a 3 HP and 6 HP FM and the just-completed 1-1/2 HP IHC. This show was small but I feel it has great potential.

August was a month of planning for the Old Farm Day Show in Pendleton, South Carolina to be held in Sept. Another day in this month meant the discovery of a 1-1/2 HP Hercules in a junk yard. The base of the engine had been broken up pretty badly, but there were some good parts on it. I also started the restoration of a 3 HP IHC type M, the next in line of this set. The hardest thing on these IHC engines I find to do is to remove the flywheel keys.

Sept. will have to go down as the most action filled month of the summer. The Pendleton show was only a few weeks off, plus the two courses I had started pertaining to my job had really left no spare time. Then to make the time even more crowded Mr. Charles Calvert, whom I mentioned earlier, invited me and my local engine friends to set up an old engine display at a large shopping mall complex on Sept. 13 and 14. This was a very successful weekend because an old gentlemen came by and said he had an engine he would be willing to sell. I now have a 3 HP Hercules throttle governor, which is one type I did not have in my collection. The following weekend of Sept. 21, the General Electric Company, my employer, scheduled a family picnic and encouraged their employees to bring their hobbies for display. I just couldn't resist this opportunity to show my engines where I knew many interested people would be.

The final act for Sept. was the Old Farm Day Show. The show events consist of three large steam engines, corn shelling and grinding with an 8 HP Hercules by Ernest and Norman Durham, wood sawing with 6 HPFM and 5 HP Hercules saw rig by Wallace Tinesly and son, Jimmy. The remainder of displays consisted of 25 other gas engines, feed grinder and a complete gas operated Maytag washing doing the laundry.

I don't know any better way to close out the summer of engine activity than to be honored by a visit from the Greenville, South Carolina chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and their families. I asked my friends Norman and Ernest to bring their 8 HP Hercules arid corn mill for an added attraction. My neighbor, San Waters, a great engine conversationalist helped explain engine operations and mechanics.

Well, here I sit writing on October 7 with four (4) engine events behind me in one month and I will have to admit it becomes more like work when you load and unload 3000 pounds of engines for three weekends straight. We had one of the earliest freezes on record this year so I guess the summer is over and it is once again time to drain water systems and winterize engines.