A Root Grows in Winona

4 HP Engine

Content Tools

4735 W. 5th Winona, Minnesota 55987

There is life in those 'Old Roots' thanks to the efforts of Edward Chick. The Winona, Minnesota native has once again brought to life a new half-scale model. Through his multi-talented dedication to a dream, a new -scale Root & V and ervoort upright is now a reality. The engine is scaled from a 4 HP upright. The engine came into Ed's possession through a trade. I remember the day when he picked the engine up. It was a very cold Good Friday. I was involved in the trade because my father needed some help with his heavy hobby.

The original Root was complete except for the cooling tank and screen, skids and cart. The engine (all 1485 lbs. of it) was loaded into our pickup with the aid of a front-end loader. The job of getting the Root off the truck was not as easy as getting it on the truck. The engine had to be disassembled. When the head was removed, we found out why there was no paint to be found on the engine. At one time the engine had been stored for a long period of time in a creek bed. On the top of the piston there were 6 inches of mud, and the remains of a small minnow, and a few snails to keep the valves company. Over the years the badly necked valves, and the pitted seats, and guides had formed quite an attachment for one another. The valves and guides had to be replaced. The seats were reground, and fitted with the valves from a 327 Chevy. At one time the spring water was allowed to freeze in the cooling jacket and head causing them to become slightly bulged. When the head and jacket were welded, attention was turned to the bore. The interior of the cylinder above where the piston had stopped moving so long ago was very pitted. The cylinder was honed and the rings freed, and seemed to be in pretty good shape. Disassembly continued and work increased. It seemed as if every part on the engine needed work. All of the pins and bushings on the Root were replaced; the crankshaft was metalized and turned. The rod had a twist which meant that the main bearings had to be replaced.

All of the exterior parts were badly rusted and sorely in need of a friend. The igniter was one solid lump which took well over a week to rework (most of the time spent in getting it apart). The thought of those first smoke rings just keeps a person going!

While the Root was apart and covering much of the shop, Ed started the model. The first step in building any model begins with the measurement and drawing of each engine piece. The Root & V and ervoort that was being built was to be an exact copy of the engine that R & V  built for the Deere & Webber Company of Minneapolis. The engine was sold under the name of Reindeer Engines; these facts were made known to us by the beautifully preserved brass nameplate mounted on the cylinder. Nameplates always help greatly in the restoration of any engine, and the Root was no exception.

The fuel tank was cast into the sub-base, cast iron on all sides and therefore sound. The fuel pump was made of brass; however, the two check balls that made the green lump a fuel pump had long since disappeared. The carb on the Root was broken from freezing, and when the needle valve was turned it broke off also. A person can really get quite good at welding cast iron after awhile. When all is said and done, that first pop is worth all of the work.

The actual building of a scale model out of cast iron requires the builder to make two engines. The first is made of wood, which later becomes the patterns from which the castings are made. The second is the actual engine, made from the castings. There is also one thing that must be mentioned. You need a foundry that is willing to let you fail for awhile before all of your patterns work just the way they should. Very often more than one pattern is required for each part. The cylinder, for example, used three patterns alone. The pattern work for the R & V took Ed over a year to develop a set that would give the high quality castings that are required to become parts for one of Ed's engines.

When making a half-scale model, one often runs into a number of problems. Each part that is scaled down presents its own headaches. The carb was very time consuming; when the scale was cut down the volume through the throat was cut drastically. To get a carb that would deliver the proper volume to run the engine and yet maintain a half-scale appearance was very difficult. The carb is a constant level type which is pump fed; excess fuel spills over a small dam in the carb and returns to the fuel tank by a secondary fuel line.

As Ed worked on the Root he found that the majority of the engine could be built on the turning lathe. The lathe was used to machine all major castings with the exception of sub-base, rod, and head. Most of the remaining work was completed on a drill press and small milling machine.

When a person scales down a 1400 pound engine, you might expect that the model might weigh alot also. The half-scale Root tips the scales at just over 125 lbs. Ed feels that the weight is the key to the engine's ability to run so smoothly at 375 rpms for hours on end. His Root was fitted with a brass cooling tank and screen. The engine ran the first time that he attempted to run it. It did take awhile to get it to run the way he wanted it to before he would take it to any shows. When all is said and done the Root & V and ervoort is truly a remarkable engine. The Root can be seen any day sitting next to one of Ed's -scale Fuller & John sons. The F & J's will very shortly be pulling model pump jacks, and saw rigs, at shows throughout the Midwest this summer.

What does Ed plan on taking on next? He is currently building two models. A full-size Franklin engine, and a half-size Fairbanks & Morse upright modeled after a 4 HP. He has a third model in the works: a Mi-scale Domestic side shaft. It looks as if Ed will be busy for the next little while with these three engines; kits do take time! I would like to wish my father all the best in these projects. When in the neighborhood, stop in and see Ed. He is always willing to run one or all of his little beauties for anyone who loves the smell of smoke rings.