FINNISH ENGINE

Almost Finished

Vertical tank cooled engine

Content Tools

2969 Home Street, Wantagh, New York 11793

In the summer of 1990, after years of finding excuses not to go, my wife talked me into going with her to visit her relatives in Finland.

Naturally, being an antique engine collector, and not quite of sound mind, the first thing I did after landing at the Helsinki Airport, (after collecting our luggage and finding my brother-in-law, who was driving up to his house about 200 miles north of Helsinki), was to ask if there was anything up there worth checking out. After thinking a minute (probably about what kind of nut did his sister marry), he mentioned an old diesel engine in the woods on some property belonging to my father-in-law, who had recently retired from the saw mill business, due to a stroke. This sounded interesting, since the price would be right (free).

The next day, off we went to take a look. Fortunately, the engine was located only about 100 feet off the road, in light brush. That far north they don't get the heavy pricker bush overgrowth we know and love around New York State.

At first sight of this creature we saw a vertical tank cooled engine, single cylinder about 8-10 HP, with a mostly intact slop bucket over the top of the cylinder, (fortunately). Closer inspection showed a two cycle, hot bulb type diesel, make unknown at that time, sitting on rotted out skids. It has a cam and push rod operated lubricator for the rod bearing and cylinder wall and grease cups for the main bearings, which turned out to be ball bearings. Amazingly, a little muscle on the flywheel unstuck the engine, which is when I decided this monster was going home with me.

The game plan was to disassemble as much as possible out in the woods, bring it in pieces to my brother-in-law's garage, where some tools were available, and finish disassembling it there. Separating the flywheel from the crank was the only hard part, but with some wood wedges and a few bottle jacks, it got done.

The next problem, and this was the biggie, was how do we get this pile of parts home, 5,000 miles and an ocean away? After crating the parts, we contacted a local trucker, who was able to directly load onto a freighter at the docks in Helsinki. This freight company had agents at Port Newark, New Jersey and could unload the crates, (three in all), there. I was fortunate in having in-laws who spoke the language and could arrange all this; all I had to do was pay the freight charges. The weight of the three crates was approximately 800 lbs., which didn't include about 50 lbs. of small parts, which I took back in our luggage (the wife loved it!).

About three weeks later, the engine arrived at Port Newark. Most people wouldn't believe the red tape involved in trying to import machinery into the U.S. as a private individual. Having an idea of what was coming, I left early in the morning and got to the office of the freight forwarder in Jersey City, New Jersey (you can't deal directly with the steamship company) when they opened at 9:00 a.m. There you have to pay his commission, for what I still don't understand, and various port taxes and fees. These receipts in hand, you can go to the U.S. Customs Office, about six miles away in Newark, New Jersey, and clear the shipment for customs. Fortunately, I drew a sympathetic customs inspector who classified the engine as 'obsolete farm equipment' which I guess it is; and didn't assess any import duty.

After leaving customs, by now it was after 1:00 p.m., we headed for the docks with all our paperwork, including the necessary customs release. Finally, we were at the warehouse on the docks, where the engine could be loaded in our truck. Anybody who has ever been to Port Newark knows what a maze of roads and warehouses it is! Around 4:00 p.m. we were loaded and heading home. A full day spent on red tape.

After completely disassembling and cleaning everything, the engine showed very little wear. The original bearing and rings could be re-used. The hard part was going to be identifying it, and figuring out how to set it up to run. Unfortunately, at some point in the past, the cylinder's housing had cracked, and the repair that was made destroyed the serial numbers, which might have helped. There is still an 'M' cast into the cylinder midway up, which was very important. With the help of Mr. Lars Palm of the Smalands Museums in Vaxjo, Sweden (an agricultural museum), we were able to identify it as a Munktell, made in Sweden. He is still working on it for possibly the year built and paint color, etc. An important clue was the lubricator, which has 'Alex Friedmann' cast into the cover.

Recently, on the first attempt to start up, we got a few promising pops, but stopped, because there were leaks in the fuel line, which is under high pressure.

If anyone has any information about this or similar engines, I would appreciate their contacting me, telephone 516 783-9159.