12234 Harris St. Carleton, Michigan 48117
It is hard to think of a 1? hp International M engine as rare or special, but nevertheless, that is what this story is about. I picked this engine up a couple of years ago from a fellow engine collector friend of mine, Ed Laginess. He has a large collection of antique engines, a big garage full. About every three or four weeks or so, I would go to his place and look over his collection just to turn a few flywheels and see what new things he had brought home.
The M was one of a trailer load of engines he picked up down south some time ago. When I would stop in for a visit, I would always check out that old M. I always found myself spinning that engine over just to watch the ignitor snap off. I sprayed penetrating oil on the valves and oiled the cylinder to try to build up some compression, but it had very little or none. You know that feeling that comes over you when you just have to have that type of engine. You're in trouble. He sold it to me; that's when the fun started!
This 1920 International is one of those engines you just can't quite figure out what type of life it had. The one thing I do know is that when it was used, it was on or near the ground. It may have had some type of cover over it because the top side of the engine was in good shape, but the bottom around the base had rust pits almost through the casting. At one point some time ago, someone did try to fix up and repair this engine. The large rust pits were filled with body filler, and a coat of paint was brushed on. It is really hard to say if he was able to get it running or not.
Some of the broken and repaired parts were the exhaust rocker arm, fuel pump rocker pivot, and the ignitor. It is hard for me to figure out why this engine had so many broken parts or if it was used for its good parts and the old repaired ones ended up on this engine.
The ignitor was the big trouble. When it was repaired, the shaft holes did not line up, so the shaft was filed down so it wouldn't bind. Unfortunately, it would not hold in any compression. To try to get it running, I removed the piston and freed up the rings and cleaned up the valves too. This made the ignitor leak even more; something had to be done with it. 'Try to repair it' was the order of the day.
I then took it to Dave Carr who is a machinist friend of mine. Dave has a good head on him for how one should go about repairing something like that. He looked it over real good. The repairs took two days with me doing most of the machining while he looked over my shoulder telling me how. If he did the repairs, it would have only taken a couple of hours. The hole through the main part of the ignitor was drilled out to 3/4'; a steel plug was made up and pressed into place. Then everything was redrilled and a new shaft made up. I used the old springs but ordered some new ones from Starbolt. The mag was dead so I used a battery and coil to get it running.
When the complete restoration started, alot of new parts were ordered: valves and spring, rings, carb syphon tube and needle valve, a muffler and decals along with some other little parts. The restoration took alot longer than I would have thought - about six months. There are alot of small parts in an M engine compared to some other ones I have worked on that had to be cleaned up and repaired. This used up alot of time.
Another thing I did while restoring this engine was to video tape the whole thing from taking it apart to putting it all back together and running. This was alot of fun. One thing that I thought was real funny is when you know what you want to say and do and then turn the camera on and you forget how to talk and can't even remember your own name.
Often I read in Gas Engine Magazine that a newcomer to the hobby finds an old engine and thinks it's a rare one but finds out that it's not. I hope they aren't discouraged. There are some rare ones out there still to be found, but most of the rare engines are in the safe hands of some long-time collectors and have good homes. I think when someone finds an old engine and decides to restore it, to try and undo what time and hard work have done to these old engines, the memories and the good times that come with this type of work, seeing an old engine come back to life and run again after sitting idle for so many years, that is what makes all the engines rare and special.