A Mogul Birthday

One man's long quest comes to a head on a very special day


Rob Charles’ beautifully restored Mogul, which was in bad shape when it showed up in his driveway.

Content Tools

Birthdays are always good days, and some birthdays are really special. I am a big fan of IHC engines and have collected around 30 in the last 15 years. One of my dream engines has always been a portable sideshaft Mogul. I had been unable to corral one for all those years, but the day before my 31st birthday, a 1918 IHC 8 HP hopper-cooled portable Mogul literally showed up in my driveway!

The appearance was no accident. My friend Ed Johnson knew I had been on the lookout for a sideshaft Mogul for a long time. He had been given a lead on an "unknown" IHC engine (probably an M) located somewhere south of the Camden area in southern New Jersey. He took a gamble, went to see it, bought it and hauled it home in the back of his 1979 Ford F-250. It barely fit. He stopped at my house on the way home.

On the night of Feb. 18, 2000, around 9 p.m., Ed was knocking on my door. Imagine my surprise when we went out to his truck and he showed me what he had. The nametag was gone, so a quick measure of the flywheel told us he had an 8 HP. It was not pristine - not by a long shot. Bits and pieces were scattered all over the truck. The previous owner had taken apart everything that would come apart. Even in the dim light from the back porch, I could see heavy rust covering every part, deep pitting on the flywheel faces and a 14-inch long crack running lengthwise in the cylinder wall. The trucks were almost a total loss. Only one crossboard remained intact. The bolts were all rusted away. I am not sure what was holding it together besides the rust, but it was a portable Mogul … and they don't grow on trees. I decided I had to have it.

Ed and I discussed the "how much" and agreed on a price. I obtained the necessary wifely approval and I was on my way. Wow! I had finally gotten one of my dream engines.

Ed told me he bought it from an antique collector who purchased it from a family who he thought were the original owners. The scant history that came with it was that it had powered a cider mill and had probably never seen the inside of a shed. Since it was late, Ed took it home and I agreed to pick it up the next day (my birthday) at his shop. It would be easier to take it off the back of his truck there, as he has a boom truck.

I was in high spirits when I brought the engine and its remains to my house. My brother-in-law happened to stop by and asked me if it was a cannon. The cylinder was not attached, so I supposed a non-engine guy might think it was a cannon. At that point, it might as well have been one. It sure didn't look like much of an engine.

Restoration ready

I totally disassembled the engine so I could see what I was in for. Most of the bolt heads were rusted off, but remarkably, the threads under the heads were new and shiny. Optimistically, I tried to locate a replacement cylinder. After the laughter died down, I knew I had to get real and figure out how to sleeve the old one.

Fortunately, I have the right background for restoring "unrestorable" wounded iron - I am a third generation machinist. My great grandfather, Martin, was a blacksmith and farmer, and my maternal grandfather, Tony Kudrel, has repaired machinery and done machine work for 65 years. Grandpa Tony built the shop (where I currently work) back in 1957 on his father's farm. At that time, it was a rural area, and higher amperage electrical service was not available. So Grandpa bought and installed a 34 HP Ruston-Hornsby HREX-6 diesel engine and its companion 25KVA generator to run the shop. The big diesel uses compressed air for starting, so Grandpa set up a 5 HP Otto gas engine he had to power the compressor. Both engines were retired when the power company ran heavier service to the area. The Ruston is still in place, but I have removed the Otto to take to shows.

Grandpa retired in 2002 at age 79 and turned over his shop to me. Back in 1987, I had started my small shop in a rented chicken barn. I did well with it and moved up to a unit in an industrial park. On Grandpa's retirement, I merged my shop with his - a tight squeeze, as we both had a lot of machines and tools. Grandpa is still around for advice and to ask questions about old iron. He can't get around too well, but his mind is still sharp. My father, Bob Charles, started machining in 1963 and had run his machine shop until retiring. He now helps me in my shop part-time. We pride ourselves in doing old-style repairs and new machine work. If it's metal, we can usually fix it or make it new.

I was prepared for the damage I saw, but a little intimidated as well. I looked over the engine to determine the cause of the cracked cylinder. I believe it was a carburetor cap that had been missing for many years. The carburetor filled with water and eventually rotted out the intake valve along with all of the butterflies and shafts in it. Then the cylinder filled with water. The cold created ice and cracked out the bottom of the cylinder. It looked like the wall on the bottom was a little thin, so it didn't take much to crack. Once it made its own drain, the water ran out through the open drain in the exhaust valve box. Amazingly, the piston was not stuck hard and the rings were in good shape. The engine appeared to have very little wear in the bearings and pins, but much damage from the elements. I can only wonder why this poor engine was left out in the weather for so long.

My strategy was to attempt to repair the cracked cylinder first or possibly fabricate a whole replacement cylinder/hopper out of steel plates and a cast iron liner. If that was successful, I'd go on with the rest of the repairs.

First repairs

Eight HP Moguls have a bore and stroke of 6-by-18-inch. Unfortunately, the 14-inch long lengthwise crack extended into the water jacket, requiring me to make a full sleeve for the cylinder. I wanted to make the sleeve as heavy as I could without compromising the remaining block. I decided to step the sleeve in three different diameters, making it heaviest at the head end, and thinnest at the back where the hopper/cylinder bolts to the crankcase.

During a slow week in August 2000, the boring operation began. I didn't have a 36-inch swing lathe so I used an old-time method of cylinder boring on top of a lathe carriage. First, I had to make a special plate to bolt to the tee slots on top of the carriage of my 20-inch swing Hendey lathe. The plate (1-inch thick, 8 inches wide, 16 inches long) was bolted to the bottom of the cylinder where the exhaust valve cage mounts. The cylinder/plate was then shimmed up true with the lathe centers. A special bring bar 3 inches in diameter and 40 inches long was made for going inbetween the lathe centers and driven by a lathe dog. The bar really wasn't precision, just a drilled crosshole for a 1/2-inch square tool bit. To set it, I used a dial indicator on the tool tip and moved it half of the amount I needed to move the tool out. This setup allowed for a nice, clean bore to receive the cylinder sleeve.

The sleeve was made on an 18-by-54-inch LeBlond lathe. Using a cast iron tube I happened to have lying in my scrap pile (7-inch outer diameter, 3-1/2-inch inner diameter), I machined the three-step sleeve with a 6-1/2-inch major diameter and a 1/32-inch under finished size bore. It was a lot of waste, but the materials didn't cost much and I was making the sleeve while the cylinder was being bored.

The sleeve was made for a 0.005-inch interference fit in the bored out cylinder. It was pressed into the cylinder with the help of a 30-ton Enepac Hollow Ram Porta Power while still in place on the Hendey to avoid re-setting. I used water as a lubricant hoping the two surfaces would rust together. It took an hour and a half to make up the needed plates and pullrod, and to pull the 15-inch long sleeve in place. For most of the pull, the hydraulic gauge read 6 to 10 tons of pressure.

Next, I reinstalled the boring bar and finished boring the inside of the sleeve. The final bore was 6 inches, with a section at the head end of 6-1/4-inch. Since the Mogul has two ports (one for each valve cage), I drilled the appropriate holes with a hole saw using the cylinder as a guide. I did this on my radial drill press. A quick honing finished the job. The bore/sleeve job took about a week, give or take a couple of hours.

The 37-by-3-1/2-inch diameter flywheels were the next priority. Both flywheels were badly rusted and pitted, but at least there were no cracks to be seen. Ed Johnson sandblasted the flywheels at his shop. I subsequently filled the pitting with 2-part epoxy, and used a variety of grinders and sanders to bring it back into shape. With all that pitting, I had to paint the flywheel faces. I normally like to polish up the faces. On the plus side, they won't rust up again, requiring the maintenance that goes with keeping up the "bright work." I used a little more than a quart of epoxy on this job.

The block, head, covers, etc., were sandblasted by Ed. The other cast iron parts weren't nearly as rusted/pitted as the flywheels. The steel parts were another story. Out in the wild, cast iron weathers a lot better than steel. It has something to do with the higher carbon in cast iron. I had to remake all of the little rods and pins on this engine. Fortunately, there were enough of them to use as patterns.

Unfortunately, almost all of the brass parts associated with the original Mogul were missing and the nameplate and most of the gas/oiler lines had found other homes. However, IHC stamped serial numbers on the block and cylinder flange allowing me to date the engine and fill in the serial number space on the new tag.

Carburetor work

The carburetor was a project unto itself. I totally rebuilt it, making new shafts, all three butterfly plates and a new spring. I found a replacement carburetor cap (the cause of all the damage) at the 1998 Portland, Ind., swap meet. It was just a bare casting, but after a little figuring, I machined a groove in it and it hooked over the intake, mostly like the original.

The valves and cages received some renovations. I re-machined an old valve taken out of a gas-engine-powered Mack truck from the 1930s. The exhaust valve needed re-facing, which I did in my Hardinge second operation lathe. I do all of my valve facing in lathes with collets. I have found that most valve re-facing machines aren't as accurate as I would like them to be. I machined some on the bottom of the valve cages to get to fresh metal to cut the new seats. The guides were good, but I made new pins and rollers for the rocker arms. The valve retainer "hats" were worn from the top of the valve stems so they were trued up. Surprisingly, both valve springs survived and I was able to reuse them.

Since most of the original bolt heads were pretty much rusted away, I made over 50 "high crown" type bolts as replacements. The high crowns add a nice touch of originality to the engine.

The original Madison-Kipp Model 50 three-feed oiler was pretty much wasted. The bottom was completely rusted out. The only parts left on it that were usable, were the crank arm, sight glass and the ratchet arm. I had a replacement three-feeder oiler of a much newer type previously purchased at the Portland 1998 show. I discovered the ratcheting mechanism inside was much too fine for the 3/8-inch stroke that the engine provided. I made a new shaft for the ratchet pawl, which gave it more stroke. I also made a short ratchet arm for the other end of the shaft. This setup only moves the oiler one click, which is not much, but will keep the engine lubed at slow speeds. Someday I hope to find the correct Mogul three-feeder, but in the meantime, this will work.


The governor parts and gears were OK, so the rust was removed and they were reused. The fuel pump was a stuck mess. Some "cooking" with the "hot wrench" got the plunger moving, and then out. The plunger was badly pitted. I set it up in the four-jaw chuck on my small lathe, turned it smaller, and sleeved it back to standard. The body had a bronze bushing, so I renewed that. A couple of new check balls were installed and it was ready to pump.

All that was left of the exhaust system was the pipe manifold and the support clamp, which was rusted to the hot air pipe intake of the carburetor. The pipe manifold had gotten water in it and froze, splitting the inner wall. I had to cut an access window in the outer wall to weld it up. Starbolt had just added sideshaft Mogul mufflers to their extensive catalog, so I ordered one. I guessed at the length on the 2-inch pipe. I think I hit it within a couple of inches of the right height for the muffler. The hot air pipe had a big rust hole where the clamp sat, so after a good sandblasting, I welded a patch in the pipe.

One of the other little jobs was the throttle rod, which crosses through the hopper, which was rusted away. I had a tube in my tubing pile that was the right size. I cut it to length and pressed it in. The throttle rod was also rusted away. All that was left of it was a little of the 3/8-inch round steel rod and the two clevises. Once I had the governor and carburetor on, I could make a replacement rod. The oiler rod was there, but really pitted, so I made a new one. The old igniter trip rod was a vintage blacksmith replacement. It was made without any adjustment other than bending it, so I made up a new one from photos I had taken. The brass retainer plate on the end of the magneto igniter trip eccentric was missing so I made a new one. The monkey motion eccentric and trip parts on the head were in good shape and just needed new pins to replace the rusty ones.


The original trucks were a real mess. The wheels were rusted thin where they had sunk in the dirt. Some of the spokes were rusted through. The channel irons even had a rustout through the sides. The only piece of good wood was the middle 6-by-6-inch. It had a good coat of grease on it from the engine breather over it. There was enough left of the rest of the wood for patterns. A little woodworking on my metal working machine and I had the replacement parts.

The axles and braces were sandblasted, primed and painted. I replaced the stay chains, as there were only six links left of both of the originals. New square head bolts were obtained to replace the rusted away ones. I was surprised that the remains of the trucks held up the engine. It looked like it would fall apart in a gentle breeze. The original wheels were donated to my wife's flowerbed. Sam Harmon had a good set and I had a screen-cooled tank for his 4 HP Mogul, so we swapped. I had Ed sandblast them. Some primer and black paint soon had them looking good.

All that was left of the driver's seat was part of the casting that holds the seat spring and a broken seat spring. The footrest had been broken off. It looked like someone had put a chain on it and tried to tow the engine. The result: a broken seat mount. Unfortunately, the footrest part wasn't with the engine. Gary Love from upstate New York had cast replacements so a little money exchanged hands and I had my new mount. Paul Spence needed a seat spring for his 6 HP portable Mogul, so he took my broken spring to a truck spring shop and had two new ones bent. An old IHC implement donated the correct tin seat. IHC used a seat that has two rows of 13 holes around the middle of the seat.

When the trucks were done, I installed the major parts of the engine and used the trucks as a workbench. In April 2001, Ed and I ran the engine on ether. It was loud, but sounded good, especially after all of my hard work. In the next two years, I finished up a lot of the miscellaneous parts.

Making it run

Its first showing, though not finished, was at the July 2003 Jacktown, Pa., show. I set up next to Paul Spence and his 6 HP hopper-cooled portable Mogul. They made for a really nice display. I hadn't made a fuel tank yet, so I ran the engine by filling the start bowl on the carburetor. It would run 10 minutes on a full bowl.

Sam Harmon supplied fuel tank dimensions (15 inches round and 22 inches long) and photos of his tank. Ray Scholl had an extra set of tank fitting castings, so I machined them. I have some small sheet metal machines in my shop, so I sheared and rolled some 20 gauge galvanized steel to make the parts. I made the ends by forming two discs over a form on the lathe by the "spinning" process. Assembly took quite a while, as there are almost 9 feet of solder joints and riveted parts on it. I tank sealed it, just in case.

For its first showing, I also took the rusty parts and mounted them to a 3-by-4-foot sheet of 1/4-inch plywood to display with the engine. I got a lot of nice compliments on this idea. A lot of people couldn't believe that those parts had come from this engine.

The plumbing took a little figuring, as all I had left was a short piece of the return line on the carburetor. I had taken some photos of other Moguls, so I used them as a guide. After a lot of trial and error, I had a working fuel system.


As with a lot of projects, there are still a few loose ends to finish. I still need to find a toolbox for it and a new splashguard for the hopper (when I can find out what it looked like).

Jonathan Luster, who is a sign painter/artist, did the lettering and pinstriping. Because the castings were rough, it took about six coats of yellow to do the pinstriping. The next pitted engine I fix, I will do a lot of filling on the castings to make the pinstriping easier and come out smoother with less work. That also applies to decals on the hopper of an engine. If the metal is too pitted, the decals only stick to the high spots and soon fall off.

I figure I have around 600 hours in this project. It seems like a lot, but I took great satisfaction in bringing the engine back to life. More than likely, it would have been parted out. There are so few large portable Moguls surviving, it would have been a crime to chop it up. This Mogul is one of the easiest starting engines I have, usually three or four cycles and it's running (unless a crowd is watching).

I want to thank my wife, Sue, for putting up with another rusty pile, my kids, Patrick and Tommy, for giving up some daddy time, and all of the good people in the engine hobby for all of their help, advice and sympathy. My next Mogul is a 1/4-scale 4 HP tank-cooled model that my wife and kids got me for Christmas. Compared to the 8 HP restoration, the little one should be a piece of cake.

Contact Rob Charles at: P.O.?Box 192, Ringoes, NJ 08551; (908) 806-8512.