Alpha DeLaval engine after restoration

Engine after restoration.

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26 Mott Place Rockaway Boro, New Jersey 07866

I recently purchased an engine from a gentleman from Milford, New Jersey, who in turn had found it in an abandoned wrecked barn several years before. He had been out hunting with the property's owner when they ran across the old barn. He was told that when the family had sold off the dairy cows, the barn (that was in bad shape then) had been abandoned.

When it was found, the engine had been covered with an old disintegrated tarp and debris from the collapsing building. Some other equipment was also in the barn, but recovery was impossible because of the state of collapse of its resting place (it was dangerous).

The engine is an Alpha DeLaval, Type VA, with a s/n of 6220. The model and HP were not filled in. The engine was basically sound, but there were a lot of odds and ends to be repaired before it would run again. The governor's top had been removed and reinstalled wrongly and at that with only two of the four screws needed. The magneto had no spark (note the unorthodox points cover!), and the high tension lead had been routed over the exhaust pipe, which had in turn burned the wire. The magneto drive appeared to have a broken shaft. The entire fuel delivery system was a mess; tank mounting screws missing, the tank itself dented, fillcap frozen in the filler's neck, tank, fuel bowl and filter full of gum, as well as the broken fuel line. The carb was also gummed up, jets plugged and passages corroded; The governor relay arm on the carb, which was made of white metal, was broken, and the linkage was missing. One last item: the crankshaft breather check was worn out and the spring was missing too. Although this seems like a lot of work, like I said, the basic engine was in good shape.

The first order of business was to remove the fuel tank and the magneto in order to clean the engine up. These were set aside for later work. As you can see from the pictures, the tarp and a liberal coating of grease and grime had protected the engine from the ravages of the elements. I bought some engine degreaser from a local NAPA auto parts store, as well as a stiff parts cleaning brush. What a time saver these were! I mixed solvent as the directions stated, and wet down the entire engine. After about five minutes, I took a small paint scraper and loosened and removed most of the caked-on material. I then re-wet the entire engine, and using the brush proceeded to wash it off. The degreaser and brushing removed about 98% of the junk off the engine, leaving a few hard, dry spots to contend with. Just to be sure, I washed the engine a third time and then rinsed with water. I used a high pressure garden hose, which left the engine very clean, and after about 15 minutes, also very dry; the degreaser makes most solvents such as gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits etc., water soluble. That is, they will dissolve in water, leaving no oily residue!

The engine was taken into my garage and then detail cleaned. The rest of the caked-on material was removed with a knife or a wire brush. At this time I looked at the abused fuel tank. I carefully used about 30 PSI of air to remove the big dents, and left the small ones as is, so as to not create any leaks. If you decide to use air pressure like I did, use no more than 20 to 30 PSI of pressure, and make sure the tank is sound, with no rusted or broken areas. To use pressure, especially on an unsound tank, is to invite disaster. Remember that with all that area with pressure on it, you have a potential bomb in your hands if there are any weak spots in the walls of the tank! If in doubt-NO AIR! I wire brushed the entire surface of the tank to remove the dried-on gum and the remaining flaky paint, and found that the fuel outlet was loose because of a bad solder joint. It must have leaked before because there was about 3/8 of solder piled up around the connection. After cleaning out the gum and residue inside the tank with some Berkbile 2+2 carb cleaner, I managed to loosen the stuck filler cap which was made of iron.

I rinsed the tank a second time with the carh cleaner, and twice with water. I then put one of my air lines from a compressor into the tank and blew air through them for about five minutes. When this was done, I checked the tank for any fumes or fluids, and having found none, I proceeded to use a torch to melt off all of the excess solder from the fitting and the tank.

I found that although the tank was sound, the outlet fitting had developed a crack from overtightening of the filter assembly, and it had to be replaced. I retinned the tank and soldered on a replacement fitting in the original position and the tank was then set aside to be painted.

It is extremely important that if you decide to do any soldering repairs to your fuel tanks, for safety's sake three precautions must be taken: 1. You must work outdoors. Under no circumstances should you attempt to heat a fuel tank in a confined space like a basement or cellar. To do so is to invite disaster in event of a fire. 2. Extremely Important: The tank must have NO fumes, vapors, or liquids remaining in or on the tank. Even dried on stuff like fuel varnish, gums, and paint will burn or even explode in a heated area. It must have no smell of fuel or solvent before it is to be worked on. Remember, a one gallon fuel tank full of gas vapor has the potential power of a stick of dynamite! Be careful! Make sure your tank is clean. 3. The exterior of the tank must also be free of any residue, to prevent fire or the creation of fumes. Also, for a solder joint to be effective, the surfaces to be joined must be free of any contaminants-in order to make a good tight seal. Piling a 1/4 of solder on top of a bad joint, besides looking ugly, probably still won't do the job. For those of you who do not have a lot of experience with using a torch (I am a plumber by trade), it's best to use a large soldering iron. This worked fine 'in the old days,' and it reduces the risk of both fire and distortion from excess heat to the tank. It is also most advisable to have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

After working on the fuel tank, I removed the carb, the valve rocker assembly, pushers, and the cylinder head cover from the top of the engine. The spark plug was removed and a small rag was stuffed into the hole, and the valve springs were taped to prevent overspray on the springs. The head and cylinder were then sprayed with Hi Heat Silver Spray paint. After this paint had dried, the entire painted area was covered with a rag, and the engine was then painted with Designers Choice Green Enamel. This paint exactly matched the green paint that was on the engine, which is a bit more blue and darker than John Deere Green. As a side note: both the engine ID plate and the oil level plate were covered with wheel bearing grease before painting. When the paint was dry, the grease was wiped off and the brass was cleaned up!

I then started to reinstall the removed parts, starting with the governor. Four new brass screws were polished and installed with square nuts on the bottom ends to secure the top in place. The driver arm was polished and put on and new cotter pins were put onto its support shaft.

The points were cleaned and regapped on the mag, and the high tension brush spring was replaced, as the original was broken. The brass name plate-magnet holder was polished in place, as it had several cracks in it and I didn't want to take a chance of breaking it by removing it. The mag is an American Bosch FX 1 ED-21, which has a manually resetable impulse, for retarding and intensifying the spark for starting. After a good cleaning and resetting, the mag puts out a neat fat ?' double spark when it trips.

At this time I looked at the magneto drive shaft. This in fact was just a support shaft for the drive, and it had just backed off because of a missing lock nut. The support shaft was undamaged, and I put it back into its place and installed a new self locking nut to keep it in place there. As this repair was completed the magneto was then reinstalled and timed to trip on impulse at top dead center. One item I haven't been able to locate is the points cover-kill switch assembly for the magneto. Currently I have left the existing 'cover' in place, because it keeps the dirt out. This 'cover' is actually a Carters Silver Craft tin that now is serving double duty. I don't know how old it is, but it fits! The hi-tension lead was rerouted and shortened in order to make it look neater and keep it away from the exhaust heat. A new Fahnstock bayonet end placed on the end of the lead finished this repair.

After cleaning the fuel bowl and screen with 2+2, I reinstalled it onto the repainted gas tank and mounted the assembly back onto the engine. The original protective felt that was on the fuel tank mounting strap was ripped and soaked with all kinds of stuff, so it was removed. I made a new protector out of a piece of 1/8' thick cork that I had in my cellar. Two 1/4 x 20 polished brass screws and square nuts had the refurbished tank 'sitting pretty.'

The original fuel line had been run outboard of any other item on the engine with the exception of the drive pulley. This made it a prime bump target, and in fact it was. Apparently it had been hit quite a few times from the damage I saw. The line had been flattened almost shut in two places, and broken clean through in a third. One ferrule and nut had been split, and the fuel outlet had been torn loose from the tank. I decided to repair the gummed up carb first and to then custom fit the fuel line after the carb had been remounted.

Repairing the carburetor seemed to be the hardest part of this restoration project. The carb is a Tillotson MS220. It was a real mess inside. Besides the gums and residue, water had gotten inside and made a mess of the passages. It took nearly half a can of 2+2 and about three hours to disassemble it and clean all the junk out. The idle fuel pick up was a real pain as someone had tried in the past to remove it, and had buggered up the jet so badly that it had become jammed about a third of the way down its bore. I could tighten it, but couldn't back it out. I ended up grinding a screwdriver to a sharp edge in order to remove it. After a thorough cleaning, the rebuilt carb was remounted and a 1/4' O.D. copper fuel line was made up and set close to the engine, both for safety and appearance.

I found an arm for the governor to carb link on another carb I was using for parts, and I installed it in place of the broken one on the carb.

The crankcase breather was easy to fix. The valve was worn out, so another one was made up from an inch and a quarter diameter fender washer. A new lightweight spring and cotter pin had it operational very quickly.

I asked a machinist friend of mine, Doug Kimble, to make up a new rocker support shaft for me and this took most of the play out of the valve lash clearance for the engine (thanks, Doug). The exhaust valve was freed with the help of a lot of WD-40 and a few gentle taps from a hammer. I just turned the valves by hand after spraying the seats with the WD-40 in order to clean up the seats, and the engine then had pretty good compression.

After filling the crankcase with oil (2 quarts), and double checking everything for looseness, I found that I had forgotten to make up a linkage between the governor arm and the relay arm on the carb! It really pays to double check everything before start up! I made a link with a piece of steel wire, and now the engine was really ready for start up.

I made up a starting crank out of some 1/4' iron plumbing parts, and a 3' piece of ?' brass pipe. After two turns the Alpha DeLaval fired up and began to run. At speed or under load the engine suns smoothly, but at idle the engine refuses to fire at an even pace. I believe that either an internal part is damaged or the carb may be damaged, or that the problem is just an inherent defect in the carb's operation-that is, that it cannot be made to be any better because of design limitations. In this case, there is no idle mixture adjustment, and that may be the root of the problem.

I would like to hear from other Alpha DeLaval VA engine owners to see if this problem is just my own. Any information on this engine would also be appreciated. I would like to contact DeLaval to see if any information is still available, and if there is I'll update the GEM when I get the info.

After a little touch up, a nice quiet Nelson muffler completed the restoration of this 'found' engine.