Making An 'Old Engine'


Photo #1

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1 Piscataqua, Road Dover, New Hampshire 03820-5206

THE 'Sahire' engine in last month's GEM magazine is a late 1920s Briggs & Stratton enginemaybe an FH.

I started gathering pieces for this engine about 1994 or earlier. Frank Hietala had helped me get many of the parts. To him I owe a great thank you.

As in Photo #1, the crankcase, head, connecting rod and piston came from an auction in Nottingham, New Hampshire. The rest of the parts in the photo came from Frank, one way or another. Frank has built a few of these engines, so I went by some photos of his engines and an occasional 'what did you do here, Frank?' when I saw him at a show over the years.

The sideplate of the Briggs was used for the timing and the points. I turned it down to a smaller diameter on my lathe (photo 2). The 2 to 1 gears were left inside the crankcase, along with the 'oil splasher.' The oil pump was missing the push rod, which was activated off of the cam. I figured out the length by going through the motions while I had it apart.

Photo #3 shows the detent blade and governor-collar-shoe assembly. I used bronze for the shoe and silver soldered the joints and case hardened the detents. The governor collar which slips over the crankshaft was turned from some lead-alloy I have around. I developed a two-piece take-apart bracket for the gas tank.

John Rex machined the flywheels for me, as my lathe wouldn't turn the 10-11' diameter. He put that nice taper in there and met that crank taper just right.

Some parts, like the muffler, were cast and I got them from my friend Fred. It was a little harder to oxidize and color the shiny aluminum casting to give it an older look.

The breather pipe was switched to the lower base and an oiler was put in its place. An old lamp base was tapped only on one end. The top threads fit the Lunkenheimer oiler fine.

I find making needle valves enjoyable. When you're done with the point of the needle, its long threaded stem and a nice knurled knob to turn, it's like neat piece of work in itself. I don't have a knurling tool yet, so I used a line file which was ordered from a jewelers supply house. They come in different lines per inch, too fine for big engines, though.

An oiler bottom is what I used for the top of the air intake. It is mounted on top of a bronze bushing with 16 or so holes drilled around for air intake.

One of the problems in the Briggs is the shaft area which held the kick starter. Anyone who sees that base knows it's a Briggs by the casting. This is why I made the oil can holder for the engine, to disguise the base.

Photo #4 shows the engine and flywheels after getting them back from being turned. Here you can see the first attempt at 'antiqueing the engine.' I say first attempt, because I was fooling around with latex-acrylic paint to see how it would go. I know gasoline doesn't like latex paints, so I stripped off the paint and used the enamels. The technique gets easier the more you do it.