494 Grand Valley Drive, Grand Junction, Colorado 81504
Several years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in an old steam engine. He knew that I had been looking for one. My wife and I drove the 65 miles to their house. He took me to a neighbor's house to see the 'steam engine.' It turned out to be a 25 HP Giant engine by International Harvester. Jim was very surprised when I told him that it was a multiple fuel engine and would run on gas, kerosene, or gasoline. He apologized for leading me astray, but asked if I would be interested anyway, as he didn't know anyone else who would do anything with it, and he knew he didn't know enough about it to work on it. That was my first engine.
I had worked on my first engine off and on for several years, but could not get it to run. Also, it was hard to work on it very often, as it was stored a fair distance from home. One day at work a fellow from another department came to my shop and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in an old gas engine. It wasn't all there, and it was in pretty bad shape. Though he said that it was stuck and the head was off, I told him I was interested. He also said it was very heavy and would be hard to move, but I said I would buy it. He told me what the gentleman wanted for it and I wrote out a check. I asked him to give it to the gentleman and I would pick up the engine whenever it was convenient. So, two days later, during my lunch break, I picked up my second engine.
This engine is a 1941 Stover CT-4. The head had been taken off, but was hanging on the studs. The water hopper was half-full of dirt, leaves, and a few spare parts. It was stuck at the very bottom of the stroke and the cylinder was pretty rusty. I started to get worried. First, I filled the crankcase all the way up with old jet fuel and let it soak for several months. When I finally got some of my other projects done, I took the Stover into my shop. During many lunch hours, I started on my second engine. I had to use a soft grindstone on a die grinder to remove the rust from the cylinder. There was very little pitting under the rust, so when I was satisfied with the rust removal, I started trying to move the flywheels. At first nothing moved, then a quarter inch, then a little more, then a lot, then it was turning over. I was very happy!
The head was in bad shape. It had two small cracks in it that had been poorly welded. The valves were rusted and stuck. The valve rocker arm boss was broken off (it was still there fortunately), and the valve seats were badly pitted. A machinist/mechanic friend, Ray, helped me weld the boss back together, remove the valves and reweld the cracks. The valve guides were also badly worn. I took the head to a machine shop and Ralph Mulfort saved one of the valves, matched the exhaust valve, installed two new valve guides, and then installed two new valve seats when the old ones wouldn't clean up.
I drained the crankcase, removed the cover, and got years of dirt and sludge out of the bottom. The mains were tight and smooth. The rod felt snug. The piston looked smooth and shiny. It didn't look at all worn. I got the valve rod to where it would move and follow the cam gear. I went to a salvage yard and acquired some soft copper sheet scrap to make a head gasket. Bonner Supply Company had a Stover CT-2 on consignment, so I was able to look it over and take some pictures. I made my head gasket, installed the head, and using the pictures, figured out what was missing. Almost all of the governor arms were missing, and the magneto trip arm was gone. Even the springs weren't home.
Ray told me that he had met a man on the highway pulling a trailer with old iron on it (after turning around and chasing him for a few miles). I called Pete Campbell and made an appointment to visit him. I explained what I was doing and the problems I was having. He showed me his collection, then introduced me to GEM magazine. Pete loaned me one of his old issues so I could subscribe. In Pete's issue, I found an ad for Hit & Miss Enterprise. I wrote them and was able to come up with a few of the missing pieces. The water hopper yielded a few more pieces. I tried miscellaneous springs to find some that felt right. Pete lent me the governor trip arm assembly from one of his CT-2 engines. I was then able to make the rest of the missing parts. The sizes were a little different, but the design was the same.
If only I had a Wico EK magneto! Pete knew a man in Denver who had some magnetos for sale. Pete loaned me a copy of the Front Range Antique Power Association newsletter. His friend had an ad in it, so I called him. He had just what I needed. Ouch! The price! But when you need something and it is all you need to make your engine run, oh, well! I installed the mag; my friend Ray poured a little gas in the spark plug hole. On the second pull the engine fired. On the third pull it ran about three times. So I made a makeshift gas tank out of a coffee can and tried it again. It started and ran. But, that was when I found that my head gasket wouldn't work. The water ran out. I again called Hit & Miss and they had gasket material, gas tank, muffler, flat belt pulley and several small items with which to finish my engine.
I am still working on my first engine, the Giant, but even though it has fired a few times, it has not started and run on its own. It is getting closer, but it has some carburetor problems and other things that keep it from running. That is why my second engine became my first successful engine restoration. Maybe I'll write about my other engine when I get it done. I'll have to hurry though, Spring is not that far away and Max Speer of Max's Antique Engine Barn wants me to put it in his show April 27-28 in Delta, Colorado, just of a mile from where I have it stored. Better get busy, right? Maybe we will see you there!