It Was Not For Sale, At First!

Aermotor Engine

My Aermotor as found under Bill's workbench.

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13813 Travois Trail Parker, Colorado 80134

My fascination with Aermotor 8-cycle engines began in the Spring of 1994 when I was exhibiting at the Pike's Peak Antique Machinery Days, sponsored by our local club, the Front Range Antique Machinery Days, EDGE&TA Branch 46. There was an 8-cycle there on display and I spent a few inures watching it run after which I was convinced I had to find one. The scene was repeated when I attended the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association Show in Lynden, Wash igniter a couple months later, sealing my future.

Next, it was onto the more, if not the most, difficult task of actually finding one of these engines to restore. I quickly discovered that the Aermotor 8-cycle is not among the most common nor index pensive engines. I spent several months trying to find one in any condition. Finally, I discovered an advertisement in our club newsletter. The letter stated that another member, Bill Tunstall, had over 40 engines for sale, among other things.

I called Bill right away and asked if he had an Aermotor 8-cycle in his collection. He said yes, but it was not for sale. I thought to myself that perhaps if I had a look at his other engines, my thoughts of ever ending up with an 8-cycle would be forgotten and I could find something else to restore. Bill was going to be in my area in a couple of days so I invited him over to look at my collection/trading stock, seeing as how I had no real cash at the time.

When he visited I wasn't in, but my wife Tammy did an admirable job in showing my collection to Bill, for when I called Bill later, he said he was impressed by my wife, family, restoration skills and collection, and he could be persuaded to work a deal with me for the Aermotor. The next Saturday, with trading stock in tow, I ventured out on the almost three-hour-each-way trip to Bill's place. Bill showed me his Aermotor under his workbench as it had been for the past several years. By the time the day had finished, we had completed our transaction and I was the proud new owner of an unrestored and mostly complete and free Aermotor 8-cycle engine. After getting it home, I performed the usual disassembly and cleaning. Then I started the reassembly with a few good parts from Star bolt Enterprises. The piston pin was a bit worn, but not having a source of another one nor reasonably priced machine facilities, I decided to keep it. Also, the non-adjust able main bearings were a bit loose. Not wanting to pour nor pay someone to pour Babbitt I decided to keep them, too. The igniter tip arm was a bit loose on the rocker arm pivot shaft so I repined it. Other than that, the engine needed only a few relatively insignificant part such as rings, piston oiler, automatic grease cup for the crankpin, crank guard, and an ignition coil. I assembled it fully and got ready to paint it.

I had found that the original color was an industrial gray. I'm usually a person who likes to perform accurate restorations down to the original shade of paint but industrial gray was going too far. This engine deserves a more interesting color. So I painted it Ford engine red with yellow and black trim, thereby completing the engine.

Next, my attention turned to the truck construction. I made the main frame from laminated white oak and attached it to a steel sub frame. I then attached two pairs of wheels, one pair I had gotten at a garage sale, the other pair from an auction just one weekend before. Then I painted and assembled the truck and placed the engine on top of it. I was surprised by how nicely it turned out.

The time I had been looking forward to arrived the following weekend. I got the engine outside, and after taking a few pictures of it, attempted to start it. I couldn't get the smallest reaction out of it at all for the longest time, so I put it away. I took it out the next day and decided I'd try to start it by closing the needle valve all the way and back it out in 1/16th turn increments while trying to start it. When I got to the 3/16 turn position, it fired right up! With a few other adjustments, I was able to keep it running for quite a while and ran it for about a total of an hour that day, six months after I had acquired the engine. As we all know, this satisfying experience is what makes it all worth the quantity of money and the hours upon hours of time spent during restoration.

I would like to thank all of the people who responded to my Reflections article #30/2/20. I learned many interesting things about Aermotor and the changes in the 8-cycle engine, which helped me conclude that mine was made around 1908-1909. It had the fly ball governor attached to the camshaft; one of the earliest designs.

My Aermotor 8-cycle has been the source of fascination that I knew it would be. It now joins the other members in my collection and stands ready for display in any upcoming show.