First Things

plugged the exhaust port with a  inch pipe plug

Content Tools

Box 55, Nineveh, New York, 13813

I love old engines no matter what kind they are. Anytime I see one in the scrap pile the gears begin to turn in my head. I hate to admit it, but I think those gears are a little out of time with the rest of the world. Anybody in their right mind would have left this piece of antiquity, that I picked up from my very good friend Harold Merrin, the local junk man, stay in the pile of junk where I found it.

At first glance I thought that it was an old compressor, then I spied the carburetor. The first thought that came into my mind was that it was an old Maytag. I have my doubts about this, there were other two cycle engines made besides Maytag. It's a two cycle all cast iron engine with a brass carburetor and timer. I don't think Maytag ever made an upright engine, but who knows.

I keep looking for clues and markings, but have never found anything that gives me the remotest idea of who made the engine. The only thing I know is that it is very old and was made before magnetos. It has a timer and ignition system that works off a buzz coil. I have the buzz coil and some of Lee Pedersen's high tension wire, so I don't think the ignition will be a problem. I don't think that very many of these engines were made. Although the brass connecting rod was cast, it also shows hand work like it was one of a kind.

It was a life or death situation with me. I just had to restore this lovable hunk of old iron or die trying. The water in the cylinder had been there a long time and the iron piston was welded to the cylinder. It was an impossible situation, even thinking about it was ridiculous.

Remembering the days of the old gasoline blowtorch gave me the bright idea of firing up an old one I had. I knew better than to use my acetylene torch. The old blowtorch worked great, it gave me heat all the way around the cylinder.

The heat was not enough, I couldn't free up the piston with heat alone. This didn't daunt me, I remembered the days when I was a mechanic in a ready-mix plant. We always had around twenty or thirty 55-gallon drums of muriatic acid, which was used to clean the hardened cement out of the ready-mix trucks. Contrary to, or should I say, in violation of OSHA laws, we mechanics had our own little five-gallon can or section of a 55-gallon drum with muriatic acid to clean our parts. They were plastic, of course. When they soaked long enough they came out looking like they had been sandblasted.

I have been away from the ready-mix plant for years and didn't have access to their muriatic acid. I got over this obstacle by using a gallon of muriatic acid of the type they use for swimming pools. It worked.

To finish up the work of muriatic acid I tried using emery cloth to polish the bottom of the cylinder below the piston; this was something else again. The connecting rod was in the way. I was performing a finger bruiser operation. I had the cylinder cleaned on top of the piston and on the bottom but not where the piston was stuck in the cylinder.

Now comes the tricky part. I oil up with light winter oil the cylinder above and below the piston. This helps more than you know when the piston is being forced out with grease. It didn't take much pressure to move the piston from its original position. That was the easy part.

The spark plug hole was a half-inch pipe thread. This was ideal to reduce down to a ? inch, the thread on a grease fitting. It took three standard pipe bushings, some people call them reducers to do the job. It was just like greasing a normal grease point. I watched the piston slowly move down the cylinder to the exhaust port where it stopped and the grease started coming out the exhaust port. The piston was no longer frozen, but it was still stuck. It refused to budge by hand. At this time I had another idea and plugged the exhaust port with a ? inch pipe plug. This worked great until the piston got down to the intake port where it stopped again. The grease came out the intake port and there was no way that I could plug the intake hole, it was neither round or square. My next thought was to tap the piston back and start over again. This wasn't too difficult but in the process the piston was setting up again. I couldn't drive it back in again the second time. I soaked the piston in acid a couple more days waiting for another idea. This time I decided to make a puller. This proved quite easy and successful. It laid the piston on the bench for me.

The puller was very simple to make. I took a piece of ? inch iron about 5 x 8 and with the acetylene torch cut about a 2? inch hole in it just large enough for the flange on the cylinder to fit in the hole. Next I took two 4-inch pieces of ? inch square stock, drilled and tapped four 3/8 inch holes at the ends to take long threaded bolts. With the 5/8 rod through the connecting rod I had my puller. It was a simple matter to put the two pieces of square stock under the 5/8 round stock in the rod, turn the bolts and pull the piston.

When the piston came out, I discovered it was gummy and the rings were badly stuck. More soaking to free the rings. I got the compression ring with no problem, the oil ring was a disaster, it was so fragile it broke in several pieces. I don't think the rings will be a problem. They can make rings for a 2-inch piston.

What puzzles me is why a three ring piston in a two cycle engine? I don't understand the oil ring. I can see no function for it. The piston isn't even drilled for oil.

I close my story now with a lot of parts laying on the bench. It will be a long time before I have this little jewel running. I don't think it's right to leave all of those other iron nuts dangling in mid-air. I know how they love to give advice. At this point, I have a conversation piece. I have had experience before with an old air compressor somebody tried to make into an engine. My friend dug it up with his loader where it had been buried for no telling how many years. It was beyond salvation. I sent the picture into GEM where I received more questions than answers, but one old gentleman was not fooled. He knew the make, year and model of the air compressor. It really was a homemade engine. I question whether it ever ran. It had a wooden camshaft and other homemade gadgets.

I would like to be able to display this little jewel at the Southern Tier Antique Engine Show in Maine, New York the third weekend in August. If it's not assembled I can still take it in a box.