Our First Engine

6 HP International M Engine

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670 Afton Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44512

This story begins approximately fifteen years ago. My dad and I, on our annual Canadian bear hunt, were directed to follow a certain trail to a ridge beyond an old engine. I have always been interested in anything mechanical, so we stopped to examine the engine. At the time I had no idea what I was looking at, but the two flywheels were interesting.

Our annual spring hunt expanded to a spring and fall hunt with a summer fishing trip thrown in for good measure. We became very good friends with the owner of the lodge, as well as a local farmer who served as a fishing guide for the lodge. Over the years many trips were made past the old engine, always with a short stop for further examination. The engine was 'stuck' but I began to recognize a few features such as the working of the exhaust, fuel pump, governor, etc. The remains of a broken spark plug told me that it was not a steam engine but I had no idea what kind of fuel it ran on. How the intake worked still puzzled me, and the large hopper did not seem to be a very practical fuel tank. It wasn't until I visited an engine show at a local fair that I realized the hopper on top was for cooling water.

I still had no idea what the engine was other than it was a single cylinder engine. As years went by we discussed bringing the engine home. Our conversations ranged from how to get the engine out of the woods where it sat, to how would the border guards react when we tried to enter the United States. Most of all, what would we do with it if we did indeed get it home? In September of' 91 my dad and mom made the trip in their car. My wife Judy and I followed a few days later in a small pickup. Since we now had an opportunity to return with a partially empty pickup Judy and I decided to try for the engine. We thought it would make a unique lawn ornament if nothing else. Large sockets, a breaker bar and a piece of pipe for a persuader accompanied us on our next visit to the engine. To my surprise the bolts on the large clutch pulley came right off. Some of the other bolts and nuts needed nothing more than a ratchet to loosen them, but the flywheels were a different story. So much for dismantling it and hauling it out in pieces. I borrowed a Bronco and a homemade trailer used to push boat trailers into the lake from the lodge. With the help of the owner of the lodge, Judy and my dad, we managed to get the Bronco and trailer through the woods to the engine, a story in itself since the engine was about a half mile from any road. We stood the engine on its back, backed the trailer up, unhooked it and stood it up next to the engine. We chained the engine to the trailer and with all of us hanging on the tongue managed to lever the engine off of the ground. Now it was a simple task to hook up the trailer and drive it out. Back at the lodge it was determined that the removal of one flywheel would allow the crank to he removed with the other flywheel attached. With no other tools outside of the usual wrenches, sockets, a drill, some bits and a set of propane torches, we tackled the flywheel. Heat was ruled out since we were not sure of what we were working with. The end of the key way holding the flywheel was broken off so drilling was the only method left to our disposal. Using progressively larger bits we managed to drill the majority of the key way. With some long slim cold chisels the key way was cleaned out. We cleaned up the end of the crank that was exposed and with a makeshift puller managed to move the flywheel. More penetrating oil, more movement and soon the flywheel was off. The block, head, piston and rod were left intact for another trip. At some time during this process I dreamed that I could get this engine to run again. The trip home with the two flywheels, crank and miscellaneous parts was uneventful.

In February of '92 Judy and I returned with a small trailer for the remainder of the engine. This time the border guard asked us what one wanted with an old cast iron toilet. Judy and I looked back and agreed, it did look like a toilet sitting on the trailer. Since I have a shortage of space at home the block was stored at the edge of our driveway. A few of our neighbors began commenting on the rusty toilet sitting there. Soon after arriving home I removed the head and was greeted with a rush of water. The cylinder had about two inches of water in it, but much to my surprise, was not cracked, just pitted. Now I felt sure that it would run again. The big question was, what did we have? A little research revealed that we had a 6 HP International M. Once I learned of Hit & Miss Enterprises in Orwell I knew that any needed parts would be obtainable, but what to do about the large hole in top of the block over the crank journal puzzled me. How the hole came about is still a puzzle because a later search of the area with a metal detector turned up the top of a grease cup and no more. At this time the sentimental value ruled out looking for another block, and Ed at Hit & Miss came through with the top part of a broken block from which I made a plaster cast. I trimmed the edge of the cast and used it to mark the block and patch. I cut both pieces to match and welded the patch on. With the block patched I tackled the mechanical parts. I cleaned the bore, tapped the valves, repaired the broken fuel pump and basically freed up all moving parts. I purchased rings, valve springs, needle valves and an oiler.

I would love to report that it started on the first turn, but it was not that simple. I knew what I had and I knew how it was supposed to run, but this still was my first try at this.

I still did not have a fuel tank, so I began by priming through the spark plug hole. I failed to realize that the exhaust port was at the bottom of the cylinder, and in time a small puddle of fuel developed on the driveway. It was dusk, and Judy and one son were in attendance when it finally fired! The exhaust flame went down, hit the spot of fuel and lit up the area. It is still an argument which one of the three of us jumped the highest. When I settled down we tried again. This time it fired more than once.

Now that I knew it would run I had to tackle a new problem: how to move it around. I had a piece of bowling alley and with some wheels purchased at an auction, a cart was constructed. I made a new fuel tank using what was salvageable of the original. The engine was dismantled again, cleaned, painted and mounted on the cart. It was brought out in the spring of '93 for display and has been to most of the area engine shows ever since. I made a video of the running engine for the owner of the lodge. He in turn showed it to the farmer/fishing guide. The farmer informed him that he operated a sawmill with the engine when he was, in his words, 'just a lad.' He said the sawmill was abandoned when he was sixteen. He was 66 at the time of this statement. That means the engine sat outdoors in the Canadian winters for more than fifty years. It still amazes me that it survived the Canadian winters without cracking the cylinder or water jacket. The farmer has no recollection of the hole in the block.

Needless to say, Judy and I are now hooked, have collected other engines and related items, and have more stories to follow.