A Little Piece of Paper Can Be So Important!

Fairbanks-Morse Z 1 HP engine

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383 Catherine Street W. Arthur, Ontario, Canada N0G IA0

Most of you have probably had this happen to you. Someone hands you a piece of paper with a phone number on it and tells you that this guy might have a gas engine for sale. Unfortunately, you are busy with something else or simply don't have any spare money at the time. You simply tuck the paper in your wallet and forget about it.

In the spring of 1995 I was trying to finish restoring my 1946 John Deere unstyled AR and I had just purchased a 1917 Fairbanks-Morse Z 1 HP engine. I was just short of broke, and about as pushed for time as anyone could be.

When my friend, Clarence McDougal, handed me this slip of paper, I tucked it in my wallet and hoped that at some point I would have the money and time, and that something would still be there at the end of all this. Then I promptly forgot about it.

Spring and summer passed with the tractor being finished with two whole days to spare before the first show for it. I turned my attention to the Fairbanks-Morse Z and, because it was a straightforward restoration, I had it pretty much finished by mid-October.

Sooner or later we all have to do that job of cleaning out our wallet and trying to remember what all those little pieces of paper were for, why we saved them in the first place, and which ones we should keep. When I pulled that slip of paper out, I vaguely remembered that it had something to do with a gas engine. I immediately called and got the gentleman's wife on the phone. I told her that I had heard that her husband might have a gas engine for sale. 'You bet he does,' she exclaimed, at which I laughed and told her I would call back that evening when her husband was home. When I called back later, he confirmed that he had a 2 HP Goold, Shapley & Muir for sale, and at a price that I could actually afford. Because GSM engines were Canadian, having been built in Brantford, Ontario, and because they had an outstanding reputation for dependability, we had always wanted an example to add to our collection. We currently have several gas engines including a Canadian Beaver marine engine, as well as one John Deere tractor and two antique cars.

In no time at all, I was dragging this engine across the floor from the corner of the horse barn where it had been sitting for the past several years. After getting it home, I started going over it to see what all was wrong with it. It was free but extremely tight through the bottom half of the stroke. So tight in fact, that it took all my strength to pull it through. I recalled that the previous owner had told me that he had put a 'couple' of rings in it. After pulling the head and 'admiring' the head gasket made out of duct tape, the piston was pulled and found to contain only two out of three rings with the middle groove left empty. The bottom ring came out in five pieces The entire engine was then taken apart and the real work of cleaning began. Two weeks were spent on just cleaning up the block. It was covered in old grease and oil, and the hopper was full of grease, straw, oats and all kinds of parts from God knows what. The only interesting things that I found in the hopper were the cap for the oiler and a casting star. I think the hopper became a convenient garbage can when passed by. Someone had welded one of the crank caps while it was still on the engine, which had pretty much wrecked the bearing, so a new set had to be poured by a retired machinist friend of mine, Howard Haines. The magneto had to be rebuilt and charged and a complete set of new rings installed. Getting the remains of the broken oiler out of the oiler tube was not as bad as I expected. A new set of oak skids had to be made to replace the old two by fours that were bolted to the engine when I got it. A funny thing about those old boards happened while I was moving it around on the bench. We had slid the engine through the barn and lifted it onto my truck, unloaded it, and then put it on the bench using those boards. When I attempted to move it on the bench, one of them broke off in my hand! Talk about good timing! Because of the weight of the engine, I mounted it on cast iron wheels to make moving it around easier.

After painting and reassembly, I attempted to start the engine with no success. Part of the problem was that this is my first ignitor-fired engine. My previous restorations had all been spark plug ignition. That is just the way it had worked out. After much frustration and a lot of tinkering around, we found out that there was no spark. We then bypassed the mag with a battery and coil and the engine started immediately. Now it wanted to run away. I finally had to make a new butterfly to replace the crude one that someone in the past had put in. After some more work on the magneto and many more adjustments, the engine was running smoothly. At least I hope it is running right, because I have never heard another type K running.

It was running just in time for the Blyth Steam Show in Blyth, Ontario. Unfortunately, most of the weekend was rained out so the engine only got about four or five hours of running. It did, however, get a lot of compliments on the appearance and running, so I was quite pleased.

As I mentioned earlier, the engine is a 2 HP Goold, Shapley & Muir. These engines were also known as the Type K Brantford kerosene engines. They were also built in four and seven horsepower and were throttle governed with a Webster magneto. In 1920, the two horsepower sold for $87 Canadian.

I would like to thank my father, Peter Denman, for his help and support, as well as Howard Haines and Tim Curtis for their advice and help. Thanks also go to Clarence for that little slip of paper. Currently, I am working on a 1 HP Ontario Wind Engine, and then there is that 2 HP Mogul that I have to figure out what I am going to do with.