photos by Maureen Gosz, 1024 S. Park View Rd., Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220
I would like to share with you the story of my recently restored Hamilton engine. This is the first time I've ever written to GEM, so please bear with me. It all started in June of 1994, at the Eagle River Antique Steam and Gas Engine Show, Eagle River, Wisconsin. I arrived on Friday morning, and proceeded to set up my engines for display. After registering and saying some howdy-dos to some friends and familiar faces at the show, a very good friend of mine, and a friend of my family for many, many years, came over to say hello and talk. After the usual how have you been and what's new, he informed me that he was selling his home, in favor of a new smaller one. He said he would not have the room for all the stuff he had collected over the years and he'd decided to sell some. He said he had something that I might be interested in. I said I'd come as soon as possible to have a look.
Well, about a month later, I finally got there. You know how it goes, you never have time to do the really 'important' things first. Once there, we went out to the garage and he showed me this engine under a large work bench. I couldn't believe my eyes.
Now, I've never seen a Hamilton engine before, but I realized right away that this was a very scarce engine. It was sitting on the floor, and was partially disassembled. The engine was in very nice original shape, and he assured me all the parts were there. He had started to restore it, but just couldn't find the time to do a good job and finish it. He told me the engine had been in his wife's family since new. When purchased, they built a little shed on the end of the barn to house it. It was mounted on a concrete base, and it powered a line shaft, which in turn powered various equipment in the barn. A shaft was extended through the side of the shed to power a saw rig to circle wood for winter. The flywheel on the sideshaft side of the engine was used for an anvil to peen rivets on sickle sections for the grain binder. Those little round head rivets make for some interesting little 'dinks' in the flywheel face!
The engine didn't see much use after 1920a tractor was favored to do the work on the farm, so the Hamilton remained idle for many years. Luckily, the engine remained protected in the little shed, until my friend 'rescued' it. He informed me the fuel and water tanks were completely rotted away beyond repair. The good part is, he kept all the piping and sweated fittings from the original tanks.
After he showed me the engine and all the parts, I just knew I had to have it! He said that he knew I would do a good job of restoring it, and that he could see it run, and that I would never sell it. After looking at a big bunch of other parts and 'neat' stuff, a deal was struck and the engine was mine!
Upon arriving home, the usual quick check was in order. After looking it over, I was amazed at what good condition the engine was actually in. Restoration began in winter of '94. As this engine is throttle governed, I knew everything had to be just perfect for it to run properly. My friend had put new rings in it, but I re-honed the cylinder and it was just perfect! Not even a ring groove on top of the cylinder!
The valves were a different story. They are two pieces, stem and head, and they were extremely worn along the guides. New guides were installed and stems were made by my good friend Gary at K &. K Auto Parts, Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
The igniter was broken and the shaft was bent real bad. I welded the igniter body, reemed the hole for the shaft and made a new shaft identical to the old one. All the pins and spacer washers on the flyball governor were worn pretty bad, I also made these.
I had to make new shims for the sideshaft, as these were lost. The bronze fuel pump was disassembled and cleaned; other than that, it was perfect.
Originally the engine was very smooth, so I did not use very much filler, just a couple coats of primer, surfacer and a lot of wet sanding. There were very good traces of original paint, so these were matched as close as possible by K & K Auto Parts. Paint is Martin Senour acrylic enamel. I paint all my engines and tractors with it that stuff is hard as nails.
I built the cart out of a Plymouth feed cutter chassis, and assorted steel from a local steel supplier. A cooling tank, almost identical to the original, was purchased at a local swap meet. I built a battery and coil box from real nice clear oak.
Finally the day came to fire it up. The engine does have a compression release on the exhaust valve. (This really helps, believe me!) With the help of my dad, and friend Earl, the engine started on the second turn of the flywheel. After a little fine tuning it was running perfect, what a beautiful sound! After running it for awhile I encountered a few minor difficulties, but they were fixed and the engine now runs fine. I've had the engine to a few shows so far, and have plans to attend more. I did almost all the work on the engine myself, but the things I did need help with were done by a few good friends, my dad and my brother.
I would like to give out a great big thank you for their time and effort. Also, a special than you to my friend, who gave me the opportunity to own this 'once in a lifetime' engine. Thanks Donny!