I Like A Challenge

International with hot tube burner

Stephen Upham

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P.O. Box 615 Whately, Massachusetts 01093

Stephen Upham of PO Box 615, Whately, MA 01093,. sent this picture of his 8 HP 1906 International with hot tube burner, which was a real basket case.

Most engine enthusiasts would not have tackled a project like this, but that's what I like. I have worked on a few challenging engines before, just not one missing so many pieces.

I had purchased an engine about ten years earlier, from a farmer who had a small collection, one of which was a large engine all apart, off in the woods. One day while out for a drive, I stopped in to see the farmer again. He remembered me, and we talked for a while about engines, tractors, and the weather. I asked if we could take a closer look at the large engine and he agreed. When we got to the remains of the engine, the main frame was tipped up on its side. The flywheels and crankshaft were about five inches in the ground, and the cylinder, head, piston and rod, which were rusted together, were upside down-about ten feet away. When I rolled the cylinder over, cast on the side of it was International Harvester Company. With a small wire brush, I found the serial number, which was B597-a 1906 8 HP.

I am sure that all die-hard IHC collectors know this model is supposed to be a portable engine, but I'll get to that later.

Upon further inspection, I noticed the top of the cylinder was drilled and tapped for hot tube ignition, which only early IHC engines were equipped with. I have always liked IHC engines, and to find one with hot tube ignition was extra special. However, many important parts were missing, including the cam gear, fuel pump, main bearing caps, ignitor, tag, mixer and rocker arm. But, I still knew I needed this engine. I made an offer to the farmer, and after several days we agreed on a price. He told me when he acquired the engine it was on the original trucks, which a mutual friend of ours needed. They had disassembled the engine because it was too heavy to be removed in one piece.

When I picked up the engine, we rummaged around his barn and were fortunate to find the mixer, cam gear, compression release cam, and the fuel pump linkage.

The first order of business when I brought the engine home was to put it back together and get it on a sub-base. I was not going to make our friend sell me back the original trucks.

I contacted David Frasier of Virginia, and he had a sub-base, both main bearing caps, and a new set of rod brass castings. I also contacted Murray Wallace of Ontario, who had a rocker arm, pedestal, and an ignitor eccentric. David and Murray have impressive IHC collections and both are knowledgeable about these engines.

Being a machinist and having access to a full shop are blessings on a project like this. I removed the piston, using hot water in the water jacket and a hydraulic press. When I got the piston out, the inside of the cylinder resembled the lunar surface, so I had it bored at a local shop. I shipped the piston to Niagara Piston Works to be sleeved and to have new rings made. I machined new valves and guides and made new high head nuts and bolts. I pulled the flywheels, and machined all the rust pits out of the crankshaft throws. I also turned and polished the connecting rod and all the other machined surfaces on the engine. I was able to find a cast iron ignitor (which needed rebuilding), new fuel pump, and a good clutch pulley.

Everything came together so quickly once the project got under way. I obtained an authentic IHC crank guard and I cast a new pot muffler from an original. I found the correct Michigan oiler and a reproduction brass tag at the summer engine show in Coolspring, Pennsylvania. Another friend made patterns to cast hot tube chimneys, so I bought one and it fit perfectly. The cooling tower was made from an old galvanized compressor tank. This engine had no water pump provisions, therefore it used a thermosyphon cooling system. I made the skids from 6' x 6' pressure-treated lumber. Once the engine was mounted on the skids, I turned the flywheels using a makeshift lathe designed by John Rex of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

The engine was looking hopeful once the painting began. I used IHC red for the engine body and a mixture of black and deep green to get a special shade for the flywheels. I used black pipe for the water system and red brass for the fuel connections.

With everything assembled, painted and polished, I connected the battery and coil. One pull later, it was off and running as smooth as clockwork. After some trial and error, the engine ran just as smooth on the hot tube.

I've brought the engine to numerous shows and it has always been a big hit! The whole project took almost two years with the help of many good friends and family. A special thanks goes to my father and grandfather, who started and kept me interested in this hobby. Thanks to all who helped make this restoration a reality.