1123 Nelms Road, Albany, Georgia 31705
Charles Gilchrist, 1800 Gary Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31707 owns this International Famous hit & miss. For the story of its acquisition and restoration, see 'Once Again Persistence Has Paid Off,' written by Willis Shook, inside this issue.
During the winter of 1988, my friend Charles H. Gilchrist, 1800 Gary Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31707 was visiting relatives in Butler, Georgia, and was told about a man in the area who had made a down payment on an old large gas engine and shortly afterward had suffered a stroke and was unable to complete the purchase.
Charlie tracked the man down and he said he couldn't use the engine and it was possibly for sale again. He told where the engine was located and who owned it.
Charlie went to the location and found the engine about 150 feet off a well-traveled county dirt road. It was sitting out in the open and was mounted on one end of double 4' x 10' heavy beams about 14 feet long with what appeared to be a pea thresher mounted on the other end. These in turn were mounted on a four wheel steel cart. The pea thresher was rotted beyond repair.
The engine was a 1911 4 HP International Famous, screen cooled, hit and miss, which had apparently been under a shed which had rotted and blown down in 1987.
Charlie found the brothers who owned the engine and asked if it was for sale. They told him it had been resold to a man in Cuthbert, Georgia, and that was all the information he could get. They didn't want to talk much about it.
During the summer of 1989, Charlie went to the location and found the engine still sitting there. He contacted the owners and was told it had been sold, but the purchaser had never come after it.
In the fall of 1990, Charlie rechecked the location and the engine was still there. He contacted the brothers and they were real indignant about his persistence in getting more facts about the sale. No new information was gained.
During another visit to his relatives in October 1992, Charlie rode by the location and to his surprise the engine was still sitting in the same spot.
He contacted one brother who refused to discuss the matter and referred him to the other brother. The second brother finally said he guessed the buyer was not going to pick it up and he would sell the engine to Charlie. They agreed on a price which was actually less than the original purchaser said he paid for it. A down-payment was made and Charlie told the brother he would be back in a week to pick it up.
Charlie and I went to Butler, Georgia, on October 1992, consummated the deal and went to the location.
The steel wheel cart had sunk about 5' into the ground and we had to pull it around to get it aligned to my pick-up so we could jack it up enough to back the pickup under it.
When we pulled on the front axle and bolster to align it, we pulled the complete axle out from under the beams, as they were so rotten.
We finally got it pulled around, jacked and blocked the engine up and backed the pickup under the engine. We cut the beams in half with a chain saw and the engine dropped nicely into the bed of the truck. After loading the steel wheels and axles we headed home with Charlie's prize.
Upon close inspection, after we got the engine home, we found it to be-complete with the accessories. The only part missing was the cast iron cap to the fuel reservoir.
The engine appeared to be stuck, but the piston in the fuel pump was rusted tight and wouldn't let the engine turn. We disconnected the fuel pump and to our amazement the engine turned freely.
The original screen cooler was almost perfect except for a rusted out bottom. We replaced the bottom only. All the other engine components were rebuilt or repaired, including rings and valves.
By February 1993, we had it all repaired and tried to start it by using a high tension coil on the ignition, which we soon found to be wrong.
Our next try to start it was by using a low tension coil, but we were so tired of turning the flywheel by hand, we hooked up an International LB 3-5 HP hay baler engine with a belt to the 18 inch pulley on the Famous. The starter engine worked perfectly and we soon saw smoke coming out of the muffler of the Famous.
After several minutes of seeing smoke with no apparent running of the Famous, we shut the operation down to analyze what was or was not happening. To our amazement we found the Famous had been running all the time, but at a slower speed than it was being cranked and the noise from 3-5 LB was drowning out the quiet sound of the Famous!
The engine has now been run and adjusted and cranks by hand on the first revolution. It is truly a remarkable piece of machinery for being eighty-two years old.
Charlie has gone back to talk to the brothers and try to get some history about the engine, but one brother told him all he knew was that in his fifty-five years, he only remembers that the engine was always stored in that shed. He had no knowledge of the original owner or use of the engine.