HIT OR MISS?

The'57 Ranchero

The'57 Ranchero.

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Rt 1, Box 62 Petersburg, IN 47567

Picture is a 2 HP Jaeger hit and miss engine I just recently completed. Being new to the antique engine hobby, this was my first effort in anything like this.

I bought the engine from a fellow enthusiast, Bob Freeman of Bedford, Indiana. I had been looking around for a couple of years at the engine meets for something I thought was a good one to start on. Mostly, what I had found had been completely restored engines or 'junk'. Since I didn't know anything about these engines, I wanted to find a complete one that was a common enough make that I could get parts for easily. I wasn't looking for the 'one of a kind' made in 18 whatever. I also didn't want something I would have had to mortgage the house to buy or have it delivered by flatbed rail car. As everyone knows, it doesn't take much cast iron to weigh a lot.

One day at work Bob asked me if I was looking for an old engine. He said he might have one to sell. That was all of the encouragement I needed (and it didn't take much)! Bob travels in his work and as I had several things to do, it was a month or so before we could get together. We finally arranged a Saturday meeting at his house.

After looking around at various engines and talking, he showed me the Jaeger. I didn't know what it was worth or what to look for as far as wear and general condition. The engine was complete with original decals, striping, a broken rocker arm, stuck valve, years of grease but free. It looked like the original shims were there. Even the cast iron muffler was there. I somehow figured it was worth the price and I couldn't possibly live without it.

The next thing, after all of the negotiations were over, was to load it up. I had a Citation hatchback. We measured and thought it would go in after removing the oiler. It wasn't a bad fit except for the rear of the car was noticeably lower than GM had in mind.

I made the 60 mile trip home with no problems. After getting some help to unload it, I got it in the garage under the chain fall and put in on the cart in the picture. The cart is an old baggage cart which came from a railroad station. I used to use the cart to put car engines on when I overhaul engines.

I spent several weeks in spare time disassembling and de-greasing it. I wanted to preserve all of the original stripes and decals so I could duplicate them later on when I painted the engine.

Winter was upon us and I had the engine completely apart. I checked everything. After a little cleaning and adjusting, the mag worked. The engine showed little sign of wear. The cylinder wasn't worn, a little honing fixed that right up. The rings didn't have any carbon under them. The stuck valve was a little bit of a problem. I tried penetrating oil and with a few taps it came out. Not realizing the stems were so soft, I damaged the stem by hammering on it. So, because I didn't know any better, I ruined a valve. I got a replacement and a new rocker arm which was broken when I got the engine. It is easy to see why the engine didn't have much wear on it. Someone tried to start it with a stuck valve which broke the rocker arm. The governor bracket had been broken and someone had brazed it together, but the governor gear wouldn't mesh with the cam gear. There was another piece to buy.

Since the Jaeger was made by Hercules, it was fairly easy to find the parts I needed. After my initial burst of enthusiasm, I found out I had other things to do instead of working on this all of the time. So there the Jaeger sat disassembled until this summer. I was almost ready for paint. I took measurements and made diagrams of pin striping. I wanted it to look as original as possible. All of the linkage, mag, cam gear, rod, crank, mag bracket, and even the head appeared to have been black. It looked like the only thing painted blue was the casing and flywheels. I have seen other original 2 HP Jaegers and they do vary. Mine didn't have the round Hercules decal on the front. I have seen them with or without. This appears to be the way mine was originally. The edges of the flywheels had black paint on them which I haven't painted yet. It has a Champion 31 spark plug. I wonder if it could be the original plug used when it was new. Everything was pretty well original on the engine. It didn't look like it had been apart. The original shims were still in place. I took a few off and tightened up the bearings.

Finally, this summer, I got started back on cleaning. I loaded it up, took it to the body shop up the highway from where I live. They wondered what that strange looking thing was! Since I had to use a respirator and didn't really have the equipment or place to paint the engine, I borrowed their spray gun and did the painting myself.

I also painted the cart, but that is a different story. I dropped the spray gun and redecorated their floor, my shirt, jeans, and shoes! I had to take thinner to get it off my stomach. I put more paint on the floor than the cart!

After the paint dried, I loaded up the Jaeger, took it home and started assembling it the next day. I had it running that evening without much trouble. My neighbor came by the next day and said he heard me working on the engine and wondered if I ever got it running right! I told him that's the way it runs. After a chuckle or two, I started it for him. He said he'd never heard anything so strange. Since then several people have seen it and heard it run.

I took it to my first show at Boonville, Indiana. I had a lot of comments on it. Of course, I have an unusual hauler too. I have a red and white '57 Ranchero. I will say it was the only one there. All of you guys out there who don't have anything yet are missing out on all of the fun (and possibly a lot of hot air)!