1938 IH LA

Milking Machine and Cement Mixer
Howard Martin
December/January 1993
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1535 Peach, Clovis, California 93612

This IH LA 1-2H.P.engine, S/N 44109, was purchased new by my neighbor, Palmer Matz, in 1938 in Red Bluff, California, as part of an integral milking machine unit. The dealer at that time was Evenson and Younger. The unit was taken directly to Ft. Bragg, which is probably better known for its redwood trees and ocean fishing. Palmer had a dairy and lived in Red Bluff until 1940 when he moved to Corning and continued dairying. After a year, he had sufficient electricity that he no longer needed the LA. My Uncle Henry Martin bought it from him to use on his large cement mixer.

Uncle Henry was in the contracting business, and I vaguely recall an open crankcase, hit and miss engine on the mixer. It was fun to listen to, when it hit more often as the gravel was shoveled in, and then as the load was dumped, the engine wouldn't hit so often. Understand of course, I was not doing the shoveling! Like most of the open crankcase engines, it had lots of places to lubricate and wear, and by 1941 it had served its time. The LA was installed on the mixer where it was used until my uncle retired from the contracting business in the early Fifties. It was finally set aside about 1970, and my cousin Paul gave it to me in 1991.

The engine was complete except for the water hopper cover. Fortunately, the piston was easy to free and the engine was completely disassembled. The cylinder taper measured .012' and the rings were beyond further use. As it happened, Ford 9N rings were on hand and since they are for 3 3/16 inch bore, they adapted very well with a little adjustment. The valves were serviceable and ground. The connecting rod bearing was pitted and breaking up, so a replacement was purchased from Hit and Miss Enterprises. It has proved to be a worthy bearing insert. Fuel line threads into the carburetor were stripped, so a brass fitting was epoxied in to provide a good seal. The fuel tank bottom had completely rusted out, so a replacement was installed. Something had broken the Wico magneto top cover and water had rusted the interior. A set of points and condenser revived the spark, but the broken cover had to be repaired. An elderly gentleman at the Chicago Branch of Wico said, 'If you can find a cover for the mag, I have four people who want it.' With some epoxy reconstruction it has been satisfactory and has an acceptable appearance.

These engines usually start easy, but this one was determined to humble me at least once. They have a little square coupling in the crankcase connecting the governor to the throttle butterfly. It goes together any way you would like, but not necessarily the right way, and no amount of cranking will coax it to life. The harder I sweat, the better my brain works, so after some of both, it occurred to me where the problem might be located. It's the first accessory that goes into the crankcase, so some backtracking was necessary. Most mechanics know that if you watch the position of the butterfly valve as the governor is connected, it can be done right the first time. It now runs very well.

I displayed the LA and my IH Famous 2 HP at the first California Antique Farm Equipment Show in Tulare. It was a great show.


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