Finding & Rejuvenating Rusty Iron

Old Iron Collection

Content Tools

11215 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan

It was Spring of 1978. Our brother-in-law from Asher, Oklahoma had been to visit us the previous summer. He learned of my new hobby 'Old Iron Collecting'. He said to me, 'Web, I've got an old International hay press out in our back yard that you can have if you would want to come out and get it.' Well, that is something like offering candy to a kid; I had to have it!

Well, my wife and I got to talking to some very good friends of ours-Al and Ginny Bronson from Otsego, Michigan. How about the four of us taking a week's vacation, going to Oklahoma and bringing back a hay press? A date was set and they said they would drive their '72 Pontiac with a tandem trailer behind.

The four of us drove out and did a lot of visiting. We partially disassembled the hay press and loaded it, along with a buzz saw and some other iron that was looking for a home.

One evening while there, we needed some groceries, so we took a jaunt out through those back country roads to a small grocery in the middle of nowhere. That section of the country is so sparsely populated there aren't over two or three houses to a section of land. Talk about God's country-it's so quiet and peaceful you could hear falling leaves hit the ground!

Now Al, this friend of mine, can smell rusty iron. As we were passing a house, he said, 'Web, did you see that?' There was an old one lunger sitting on a wagon in back of that house. Broke my neck, but I didn't see it. On our way back, Harold the brother-in-law said, 'I'll slow down so you can get a better look.' But he said there would be no need to stop as he knew the people and was sure they would not be interested in selling it.

Well, we got a better look on the way home, just enough to whet our appetite some more. We drove another three or four miles back to the house where our ladies were getting supper. Al and I stayed out in the yard doing a lot of thinking and chomping at the bit. But we did not want to offend our host by pressing the issue.

Soon, there was a call for supper and as we entered the house we again mentioned something about the engine and Harold's wife Ione said, 'What's this engine bit?' Harold told her we spotted an engine over at their neighbor's place and called them by name. But he said he told us there would be no need stopping as those people wouldn't be interested in selling.

Ione said there certainly would be no harm in giving them a phone call. Needless to say Al and I could hardly contain ourselves.

The phone call was made before supper. They asked him if he would be interested in selling that old engine behind the house. He said he guessed that he would. What would it be worth?

After a quick supper we went over and I was soon the owner of a 1929 6 HP Economy engine, and the steel-wheeled wagon that it sat crosswise on. This is all well rusted and set up; the model T Ford carb on it has the bowl completely rusted away. This is just like the engine pictured on the Sept-Oct 1976 issue ofGEM.

We removed it from the wagon as it was not mounted, loaded it onto the tandem and took it and the wagon back to Harold's.

We loaded the rest of the iron on the tandem the following day and left for home the next morning. Four people in a car and a load of iron behind!

Al had topped off his transmission oil before leaving from home and on long grades it would overflow just a bit onto the exhaust pipe and smoke. Cars passing by would let us know about it. But Al, being a factory-trained transmission man, wasn't bothered a bit. We sure did get some strange looks as we would pull into rest areas and people would look at the load of iron in wonderment.

That evening we stopped at a motel in Momence, Illinois. The motel owners looked at our load and told us of a nice collection of antique tractors owned by a businessman there in Momence. So we were invited to look it over the following morning. Very nice indeed!

We arrived home the evening of that day, unloaded a day later, and I guess that engine sat in my garage a year before I got around to dismantling it.

After unhooking the connecting rod I took off water hopper, then removed cylinder from base. Took it to the shop where I'm employed, stood it on end, put in penetrating oil and let it sit for some weeks.

Then putting the torch to it, four-pound hammer and hard wood blocks-nothing happened. Next thought was put chain around cylinder, another chain from connecting rod to a 55-gallon barrel of oil. Let this rig hang with barrel of oil about three inches off the floor. After about six weeks like this I applied more heat and still no movement of piston.

About now patience started to wear thin! One noon I took down jerry rig, loaded iron on to hand truck, went down to machine shop and into hydraulic press. Found a piece of 1-inch thick hollow tubing, about the diameter of piston and said now or never. Started building up pressure and glory be-problem solved!

Now had new valves made with oversize stems and finally located the proper carb with fuel pump.

And now I have, thanks to my friends, a beautiful-looking and running 1929 6 HP Economy to add to my collection of engines, tractors, etc.