Engine Bought with a Peak of Clover Seed

Pump Engine

In the early 1950s the crankshaft and the flywheel with governor and head were sold for junk.

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RD 1,Box 236 Dayton, Pennsylvania 16222

On my father's farm, a water system powered by a windmill was installed in 1923 (the year I was born), with a large cement tank on top of the hill above our house.

In the early '30s Dad got more cattle. After they were through drinking, we sometimes were short of water at the house.

We had a neighbor who knew we needed a pump engine. He had a dump truck and hauled rock to the WPA jobs when they first started. One day, while hauling rock on a county road, a man who lived along that road asked if he would haul something for him after work. He said he hadn't any money, but would give him an engine to pay for the hauling.

The trucker did the hauling for the man. The next day he came to our house and said, 'I found you a pump engine.' The engine and gears looked all right, the paint on the engine was faded, but the shallow well pump was worn out. The appearance of the pump didn't matter because we just used it to operate the succor rod pump when the wind didn't blow.

Since this was during the depression, my dad said he didn't have any money to pay for the engine but had a peck ( bushel) of clover seed that he could give him. The neighbor said that would be fine with him because he was needing some clover seed. Besides trucking part time, he operated a farm.

This engine is a Sta-Rite, rated 1 HP, serial number 2404, 3' bore, 4' stroke. It was mounted on two 2'x 6' skids about 7' long. It had a natural gas carburetor and some type of buzz coil for ignition, using a battery.

We didn't have natural gas, so Dad went to a fellow who ran a small shop to see if he had a gasoline carburetor. He said he didn't have anything that would fit, but could make one in a little while. He used two street Ls, drilled a hole inside of one and threaded it to screw into the valve from a small oil stove.

We had the engine on that carburetor from 1933 to 1947, when we got electricity. Our water tank was large enough that I ran the engine one day each week from morning till night. It wasn't long after we started using the engine to pump that a storm damaged the windmill; we never repaired it.

After we got electricity, I wanted to continue pumping with the succor rod pump, so I took the crankshaft out of the engine, leaving the piston in the cylinder, put a straight shaft in the main bearings of the engine and one flywheel on the shaft to help power the pump on the upstroke. The intake valve on the engine head stuck out where I wanted to set the electric motor, so I removed the head.

In 1988 I started to attend the engine shows at Cool spring Power Museum where I soon became a member. During one of the workdays, I told Clark Colby about having the remains of an old engine with round flywheels which had been used to pump water. Clark said, 'I can see you don't realize how rare an engine you have.'

I started looking for information on the early years of The Reliance Iron and Engine Company, Racine, Wisconsin. In C. H. Wendel's book, they are listed as starting to build the Sta-Rite in 1906. By 1908, all of the designs were changed. The models with round fly wheels were made in two sizes: 1 HP and 2 HP.

After attending several shows and talking to dealers in used parts, I was told that the only way to get this engine running was to get parts made.

I have been interested in machinery and engines all of my life. Most of the farm equipment I had was used pieces I bought and repaired.

In 1974, I sold my dairy herd and started working in a small welding and machine shop. Two years later I started a shop at home. Usually, shop work is slow during the winter, so in the fall of 1991, I took the engine into the shop and checked it out. The block had a little rust on the top side of the cylinder, but the rust wasn't deep enough to do any damage. I decided the crankshaft would be the hardest part, so I started that first. I made pieces and welded it up; it didn't run true. I tried again and got one that runs fine.

I made the flywheel from steel in stead of getting one cast because the hub for the governor was a little different. The rim of the flywheel was cut from 2' solid steel. I bolted it to the faceplate of the lathe and turned it to shape on the one side, then the other side. The spokes and hub were welded in the hub hole and made last. A timing gear was needed. I found a dealer who was able to get one made for me.

Through Cool spring Power Museum, I obtained information from an engine club in Wisconsin that helped on measurements on governor parts and engine head.

I made the head from steel to original measurements. Valves and springs were purchased from Hit and Miss Enterprises.

Still having the natural gas carburetor that was on the engine when we got it, I put that on. I've always run it on propane. I have reworked the carburetor a couple of times to get it to use less gas and to get it to run better.

Some of the shows in western Pennsylvania where I've displayed this engine are: Cool spring Power Museum, Cool spring; Northwest Pennsylvania Steam Engine and Old Equipment Association, Portersville; Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society, Saegertown; and Nittany Antique Machinery Association, Centre Hall. It was also shown at Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association, Kinzers.

Many interested people have seen this engine. Some remarked that they didn't remember having an engine like it on the grounds before.

At least one person at every engine show I've attended looks the engine over and then asks, 'How could you run anything with that engine? It doesn't have a pulley. You couldn't keep a belt on those flywheels!'