Hurricane Hugo Unearthed This Engine

International engine after restoration

Content Tools

P. O. Box 37, Scuffle Town Road Simpsonville, South Carolina 29681

This 12 HP International Harvester Company engine turned up when Hurricane Hugo hit the Carolina coast at Sumpter. When workmen were cleaning up debris after the hurricane, they stumbled across this engine lying on its side. Mr. Thurmond Coward was told of the engine and, upon further investigation, he realized what they had found was a large International Harvester Company engine. Also, he noticed that a very valuable part was missing, the carburetor.

Since this is a kerosene throttle governing engine, the missing carburetor proposed a major problem. Mr. Coward wanted to acquire the engine and borrow a carburetor from a 12 HP Hercules to put on the engine. After months of work and unsticking the engine, he was about to start it.

I bought the engine from Mr. Coward in April 1991 and began to look for a carburetor. After months of looking, it became apparent that International Harvester Company parts were very rare, especially carburetors. I decided if I was to get a carburetor it would have to be made.

I borrowed a 6 HP carburetor from Ernest Duran and Walter Shelley and began to make a pattern. The first thing I had to do was determine the difference in size between the 6 HP and the 12 HP. I determined that the 12 HP was 21% larger than the 6 HP. After a couple months work, the patterns were made. Then I had castings made. After months of machining, the carburetor was finished. After comparing it to another 12 HP, the body and the brass bowl and breather cap were exact in scale. Also, I had to borrow a water pump strap pattern from Harold Ottoway from Kansas to have cast for the engine.

After the new parts were made then I took the engine completely apart and sandblasted all the parts and began to prime and sand until the engine was smooth as the finish on an automobile.

I also purchased a set of trucks from Mr. Ottoway and sandblasted and painted them, then I painted the engine parts. I used an automotive finish, a lacquer cooler coat and a clear finish coat, then assembly started. First the trucks were assembled, then the base was attached to the trucks, then the cylinder, then the crank and flywheel, and soon all the parts were assembled.

The task of plumbing was next. I used all brass nuts, bolts and fittings and pipe. I invested approximately $1,200.00 in brass alone.

After all the piping was finished and the oak planking for the new screen was done, the woodwork began. The seat post, footrest and tongue are all finished in oak. After this the engine was ready to start.

We had two men on each flywheel. I was at the carburetor. We tried to start the engine several times with no success. We checked the timing and it was okay. We checked everything. My dad decided that such a large engine would require a lot of fuel to get it started so we put a larger prime in. It began to turn the engine and I tripped the lock out, then we heard it try to hit. I opened the needle valve a little more, then black smoke began to boil from the exhaust. After a minute or two of adjustment on the carburetor, the engine was at full speed.

I continued to adjust for a long time, until finally the engine was at idle. A kerosene International Harvester Company engine is not easy to adjust, I found out.

In the photos you will see two things that make the old engine more desirable-the clutch pulley and the rotary magneto that bolts on the back of the cylinder. This is original equipment on the engine.

The engine was cleaned and polished on Friday morning, loaded on a trailer and taken to the fall show in Arden, North Carolina. It drew a crowd all day as it ran perfectly. Mr. Coward was able to be there and have his picture taken in front of the engine and see it running in all of its glory just as it would have on- the farm in Sumpter.

Hugo did a lot of damage but as for Mr. Coward, myself, and all engine folk, it found a rare old engine that brings back many memories.