No Smoke, No Smell, No Sparks!

In a house full of engines, this little Briggs and Stratton will remain outside working


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The ad said, "Several small old engines for sale." Actually, it was my wife who found it. She doesn't mind the nice shiny Stover KA residing on our summer porch as a year-round display, the clean and unpainted Briggs FH upstairs in the television room or the single-hole corn sheller in the same room. (That one was heavy bringing up the stairs!)

So I called the number and set up an appointment to take a look. Apparently some were already gone, but several remained. An hour's ride brought me to an old house near a lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

While walking out to a shed, the owner said he had inherited the property several years prior to my visit and was still going through sheds and a large barn, continuing to discover "stuff." Some he was selling and some he was keeping, with the hope of opening a small museum some day. He then showed me what was left of the engines for sale.

Through the open side of the shed, a bunch of air-cooled engines were visible, slowly sinking into the dirt floor and nearly covered with last year's autumn leaves. They were all cast iron engines - a pair of Wisconsin single-cylinders and several Briggs & Strattons, some with attachments. An old piston-type belt-driven water pump and a small, old electric air compressor labeled "Smith's Oil Less Air Compressor" with a patent date of 1934 were just visible in the corner.

After looking closely at all of it, I decided all I really wanted were two items: the Briggs & Stratton engine with a generator attachment and the water pump, as these make nice displays at shows belted to a small engine. But he wanted all of it gone and offered to sell them all for a low price. So that's what happened - they all came home with me.

The photos in this article show the Briggs & Stratton Model 14 powering a Master Mechanic 110-volt AC generator. It was probably a hardware store or catalog item from the 1950s.

It was stuck and full of mice nests in both the generator and the engine shroud. All the shrouds were removed for cleaning. The generator had no visible damage to the interior once it was cleaned. The engine was partially disassembled to assess what work was needed.

With the cylinder head and flywheel removed, it was determined that the piston was lightly stuck, both valve seats were rusty and the ignition coil had lost most of its insulating covering. So after lapping the valves and freeing up the piston there was plenty of compression. A new original-style coil was installed using the original laminated core.

Amazingly, the gas had been drained out of all the engines so the tank was very clean on this unit. I changed the oil and re-assembled everything for initial start-up. The engine ran good with no smoke or abnormal noises.

Encouraged by the results of the engine work, I sanded the pulleys to remove rust and installed three new belts to the generator. Will the generator work properly? Surprisingly, it instantly came up to the proper output as soon as the engine was running. No smoke, no smell, no sparks! When a belt sander and a lead light were plugged in, it powered both, even with the higher current draw necessary to start the sander. The wood skids and wheels were added at this time, as the unit weighs nearly 150 pounds.

The original plan was to keep the unit if it worked properly. If not, parting it out would have been an alternative if it weren't fixable.

While doing the work on it, I researched the serial number to discover the year of production. The result gave me an added incentive to get it operational because it was made the same year I was born - 1951.

Neither the engine nor the generator has been repainted. Judging by the internal condition of both pieces, the paint remaining on the muffler and the nice, bright decal, the unit was not "used up" and tossed aside.

Hopefully this unit will be interesting at an engine show to the air-cooled crowd as it is possible there are not many remaining that are operational.

It won't reside in our house, as it will be used occasionally, but I am wondering if my 6 HP International M will fit through the front door!

Contact Bob Naske at: 2059 state Highway 29, Johnstown, NY 12095;