Otto's New Lease On Life

8 HP 6' bore Engine

Content Tools

Box 9, Ayr, Nebraska 68925

I acquired an engine through a friend and co-worker, Norm Brocelsby. The engine is an Otto, 8 HP 6' bore, 14' stroke. The Encyclopedia Britannia, 1961 printing, describes that his work was entirely theoretical. Beau De Rochas has not been given credit for originating the basic principle of the four stroke engine. The name, Nickolus Otto, is commonly associated with that achievement in 1876. Otto and Langen applied the Beau De Rochas principle in the design of a new engine that became known as the Otto silent engine. This was the first four stroke engine employing compression and operating on the basic principle of the modern automobile engine. Manufacturing of the Otto engine in the U.S. began in 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

My friend, Norm, was hunting in the area of a village called Halsey here in Nebraska, which has a manmade forest the Bessey project, which consists of 33,000 acres of trees. This Otto engine was used to pump and supply water to the nursery stock from the middle Loup River which was nearby. Norm met Tom Keeny, a park ranger, in Halsey, and the subject of old iron was mentioned. He said 'I think I've got just what you're looking for.'

About the year 1965, it was decided to clean up around the park and this Otto engine was to be junked. Mr. Keeny saved this gem from being executed. He moved it to his home in the village of Halsey, Nebraska that year. It had always been shedded at the park, but Mr. Keeny parked it behind an old shed during the six years he had it.

I purchased the engine from Keeny in 1971. Norm made the arrangements with an owner of a crane to load the engine. As it was lifted by the flywheels and the head, the crankshaft at such an angle was enough to move the piston about 1 inches to my relief it was free. The only damage caused by freezing was that one of the glass oiler bowls had a small 1 inch crack right through Langen's name which was cast on the glass bowl. The cracked bowl has turned a medium shade of purple but does not leak. The engine had gotten very rusty. I proceeded to tear it down except the crank and fly wheels. All the cast parts were primed with lead and oil and painted green and red, the original colors, and striped in chrome yellow. I found the true color under the name plate and the main frame and base. I converted the gas lines of 3/8 inch steel pipe to brass tubing. I made a brass gasoline tank and mounted it to the base frame because I didn't get the original fuel tank. In the infancy of the gas engine, for the sake of safety, they were buried at a safe distance. Due to the design of the fuel metering system, I thought of perhaps giving it a whirl using propane. I added a diaphragm fuel pump that operates off the original fuel pump cam, which makes for easy priming by hand. All the steel parts are zinc-plated and all the brass, due to being sand castings, were given a fine sanding and polishing. To keep the luster, I gave the brass a thin coat of tung oil.

The thing that fascinates me and others who see it in operation is a brass 4 inch standpipe mounted on con rod bearing that carries a short kerosene lamp wick. On the main frame is mounted an upright 15 inch post that carries the oiler with a inch tube that extends out over the con rod. As the wick comes up and over, it meets the overhang and licks the oil from the tip as the drops form.

One of the three piston rings was broken and I proceeded to make one out of an old Singer sewing machine fly wheel .002 of an inch oversized. Then I sawed it through. The ring gap opened no more than 1/16 of an inch. Then I penned the I.D. It opened no more than a inch with not too much tension. I solved the problem by using expanders under the three of them.

Charles A. Scott was appointed supervisor over the project. I feel he was responsible for the selection of this Otto engine to water the nursery stock. I was also fortunate enough to get a parts and description list. The original factory address reads, Thirty-third and Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. The successors to the above-(1950)-Bearing Machine Co., 231 West Wyoming Ave., Philadelphia 40, Pa. The parts list shows the con rod having a round shaft. This engine that I have is of the 'I' beam shaft construction. The journals are constructed of bronze, the main bearings are oiled from a sump and oil carrier rings.

The workmanship on this engine is something to admire throughout. I would like very much to hear from a gas engine enthusiast who would know the approximate age of this engine, No. 15251.