12234 Harris Carleton, Michigan 48117
It was in the middle of January when I took the phone call. The fellow on the other end of the line introduced himself and asked if I was interested in an old gas engine. I said yes, of course. Ted Mazur went on to explain that he owned a restaurant and in one part of the restaurant that he called the candy shop, where they sold all the sweet goodies to take home, there was this engine. It was there when Ted bought the business 17 years earlier; they would put flowers in the water hopper.
When Ted retired and closed the business, he took the engine home with the notion of someday getting it running. Time passed quickly, he was now selling his home and moving into a condo, and there was no place for an engine.
He described the engine as a 3 HP Ideal upright. Now the first thing that came to my mind was a large engine about five feet tall with one of those large oversized water hoppers weighing about 600 lbs. I said that I would come and take a look. I went on to say that if I was not interested in it, that I belong to a couple of engine clubs, I would take some pictures of the engine and put them on our bulletin board. I assured him that someone would want it. We set up a date and got directions how to get to his house.
Needless to day the day that I was going to see the engine, it had snowed. Does this sound like a typical engine story or what?!? The trip should have taken about an hour and a half. As I drove north, the road had turned to ice with many cars off the road and in the ditches. I slowed way down and took my time.
As I was driving down his street, I spotted the engine in the garage before his house number. I pulled up and got out. To my surprise it was not the 600 lb. monster I had envisioned, but small only three feet tall, and I just had to have it. If you ever had that feeling, you know what I am talking about. Ted was working in the garage, packing boxes. We introduced ourselves. As we were talking, I started looking the engine over.
For the most part, the engine was complete. With the normal troubles, valves were stuck open, fuel pump body and packing nut were there but the plunger and spring were missing and the fuel pump arm was broken off. The top of the oiler was broken off, the water hopper was cracked, and naturally the muffler was missing. I did not want to spin the engine over very fast; I was afraid of doing more damage to something. Had I spun it over I may have seen that the crankshaft was bent. I did not care much for the paint job it had. The block was black and the flywheels were black, red, and gold, but I still wanted it.
I took some pictures like I said I would. And in our conversation I asked how much he was asking. He said he didn't know. We talked for a while longer and again I asked what he was looking to get for it and again he said he didn't know. At this point I knew I would have to make him an offer. I am not comfortable doing this, I am much more at ease when there is a price on something and I have a place to start working from. My mind was going at a hundred miles an hour to try and come up with a fair price. The whole time I did not want Ed to see how much I wanted this engine.
I did come up with a price and he said okay. I felt much better after that. Did I mention I used to be a Boy Scout, so I came prepared? I had my can money (my engine money I keep in an old paint can), loading ramps and tie downs. It didn't take long to load the Ideal and I was heading home, feeling very good with my new toy.
Getting home and unloaded, it didn't take long to free up the valves. So I toyed with the idea of trying to make it run. Installing a spark plug, I found out the exhaust valve would not seal. Removing the spark plug and looking inside the cylinder with a flashlight, I found out why. The cylinder was full of candy wrappers and toothpicks. Not wanting to give up, I got out the shop vac and started sucking out the cylinder. By the sound of the paper going into the vacuum, it must have been filled to the top. After the clean-out, it had some compression for a while, but something kept sticking the valve open. At that point I knew it would have to come apart for a good cleaning. I filled the water hopper with oil to help soak the large pipe plugs over the valves. I then pushed it over in the corner.
Needless to say the engine didn't stay in the corner long. I just could not leave it alone. The next thing to come off was the fuel pump. The fuel pump pick-up tube was almost rusted away. At that point I knew the fuel tank was full of rust. I filled it with oil also. I started to look for information or another engine to look at. I had seen a couple at a show two years earlier. I found out who they belonged to and gave him a call. He said I could come and take a look, but he was leaving to spend the rest of the winter in Florida and would be back in town in April; I could come then. Not much I could do but wait.
The engine club was holding a show committee meeting at one of the member's houses. Everyone arrived early to look over the Fischers' engine collection. The Fischers have an excellent collection two large buildings as well as their workshop. As I was enjoying myself looking at everything, I noticed an engine in the corner that looked very familiar. When I uncovered it there it was, an Ideal just like mine. What good luck! I went back a week or so later to make drawings and to take measurements of the parts I needed to make up. It took three trips before I had all the information I needed.
I went ahead and started taking my engine apart. I needed to make up special sockets for the valve and fuel tank plugs. Everything came apart rather easily; even the troublesome flywheel gib keys came out. The oil in the crankcase looked like it just came out of the ground and smelled like it too, but it did its job. The inside of the engine was like new. Everything was cleaned and given a good look over.
The first part I repaired was the fuel pump rocker arm. Besides working the fuel pump, it opens the exhaust valve and holds the buzz coil contacts. The missing part was made up and welded on. New steel rollers and pins were installed. Next came the fuel pump. The pump gave me a rough way to go; both check balls were rusted in. After removing them, the seats had to be reground. I tried lapping the seats with valve compound but they were too rough for that. A new pump plunger was made. I found the old one in the fuel tank when I cleaned it out. It took three or four tries to get the fuel pump packing to seal and work right.
Ideal engines have their very own oilers. The reservoir is cast as part of the water hopper, and all that oiler is is a sight feed glass with a snap lever shutoff. The shutoff lever, as well as part of the oiler casting, were broken off. Using parts from an old oiler, some drilling, tapping and making a new needle, I got it working again.
The next big clean out job was the fuel tank. Removing the large plug from the bottom, I stuck my hand in to remove the large chunks of rust, but, oh my! What I grabbed felt like a small furry animal! Now wearing rubber gloves, I removed what turned out to be a mouse nest. What I removed from the tank made a pile the size of a football. I first power washed it, then used acid, and then finished cleaning it by sandblasting.
The last major repair job was the water hopper. The crack looked small when I first saw the engine. When the hopper was cleaned up, the crack was filled with plastic wood. Once cleaned out, it reached three-quarters of the way around the hopper, about 28 inches long. It was arc welded with rod made for cast iron repair.
With everything cleaned and repaired, it was all put back together and started. A little more work was needed on the fuel mixer. The only thing I needed to change was the governor spring; it was running much too fast for what I wanted to do with it. Now running at a slower speed, I ran the Ideal for about four or five hours.
Happy that everything was working well, it was now time to take it all back apart and get everything ready for painting. I painted the engine partially assembled; the block and cylinder together. The flywheels and small parts were painted separately. It made the paint work rather easy.
The engine trucks were from Madison Cast Wheel Company and the side rails were made from three inch channel. The only ads I have seen for Ideal engines were for construction equipment. So I made the battery box larger to also work as a tool box, something you might see on construction site equipment. This engine was an easy one to restore enough things to repair to make it interesting, yet easy enough to make it enjoyable and fun. You need one like that once in a while.