Another Victim Of The Old Iron Bug

Economy Engine

Content Tools

13109 Brest, Southgate, Michigan 48195

This is a story new to all of us. 'HAH-HAH!'

It begins the first weekend of July 1989. I was invited to go to the Pageant of Power at Greenfield Village by a friend of mine. Since I had only seen these engines in museums, I thought it would be interesting.

Needless to say, I loved seeing these pieces of old iron come to life. I was anxious for the second day of the show, so I could see them again. There was something about the way they popped, barked, and smoked. It is as if they are calling out to you. 'THE BUG HAD BITTEN!' A few years and engine shows later, I knew that I had to have one of my own.

Through a fellow engine buddy of mine I acquired my first engine. It's a 1920 Economy hit and miss, serial number 206814. When I got it, the piston and both valves were stuck. The mag and igniter were missing, along with most of the trip mechanism.

The rest of the engine was in pretty good condition, other than the usual rust. Without too much effort the piston and valves were removed. I freed up and cleaned the rings, honed the cylinder, installed new valves and guides, and this put the mechanical part of the engine in working order.

After a trip to the Portland show in August of 1993, I had the correct mag and igniter and missing parts to make this thing run. Any spare time was spent trying to make this old iron pop, at least once. After several adjustments to the mag and valve timing, and many spins of the flywheels, I got two or three pops and puffs of smoke. I knew I was there.

I rigged up a temporary fuel supply and it was off and running. It was a very rewarding feeling seeing this old iron come back to life.

After the 1994 show season, I began to finish the restoration. It took the usual cleaning, degreasing, sand blasting, grinding, and many, many hours filing, sanding and priming and it was ready for paint. Seeing color on it was just as exciting as seeing it run for the first time. It wasn't easy leaving it alone while the paint cured, but after a couple of weeks, I wasted no time reassembling it. The end result is what you see pictured here. I really enjoyed showing it during the 1995 show season. That is my reward for all the effort put into this restoration.

I really enjoy this hobby and the people involved with it. I would also like to thank Paul Frasier for all his help and guidance during this restoration. It made this project a lot easier. At the end of this writing, I have just acquired my next project. It's a 2 HP Nelson Bros. throttle governed engine, serial number 13148. If anyone knows the year this engine was built, or any other information on it, I would appreciate hearing from you.