Employing Engines For Their Original Use


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The following comes from a recent topic discussed on SmokStak at Various individuals started, commented on and concluded this bulletin board thread.

After having my share of engines and other equipment, I think it's time to start having items running with my engines. I am sure they were used to power a lot of items. I don't know what they could be, but there are some of you who do. Please help me with some names of equipment that might work on my engine trailer. All my engines are in the 2-3 HP range. - Thanks, Ken

Just to name a few: Burr mills, grinders, water pumps, generators and fans. I love to have stuff to run with my engines - it lets people see what they were really used for! -Norm

There are lots of small machines that you could run, mostly limited by space and ingenuity. Some are common at shows, others not so. Some interesting items are: Butter churns, clover hullers, washing machines, saw rigs, water pumps, fanning mills, feed grinders, corn shellers, blowers, forage choppers, even ice cream makers and peanut roasters (you can sometimes make yourself some money with those, if the local club and health inspectors don't mind). Rube Goldberg machines that go 'round just for the sake of having something to run are seen more often as well. One contraption that people seem to enjoy is a bubble blowing machine, another is the teddy bear or flower go 'round, or Ferris wheel. - Allen

I have taken a wooden bull wheel out of a pump house to a show and run it with my 12 HP Pattin. I probably won't do this too many times just because it is such a pain to load on a trailer and move, but it does get a lot of attention at the show when there is a 10 FT wooden wheel turning by an engine. It also took a lot of room at the show to belt this setup. - Tom

Your last statement about the room it took to set it up is a good one. A person might also consider powering an air compressor. Then besides actually doing something with your engine, you could also blow your own whistle. That's one of my own goals. - Russ

A neat rig shown at Portland one year was a mini oil pump rig and dark brown water flowing into the oil drum. It looked good and gave the people an idea about how the engines were used in the oil patch. -Randy

What do you enjoy? You could do a corn theme. One engine running a corn shelter, another grinding up the shelled corn. I've seen a pump theme done on one trailer. The owner had a variety of pumps and pump jacks displayed. All were pumping water. I've also seen line shaft setups where an engine powered a line shaft with various tools belted to it. Grinder, drill press, etc. Some folks go for variety. They might have one engine on a trailer hooked up to a pump, another to a corn sheller, another to an antique washing machine, etc. One trailer can be used to demonstrate a wide range of engine uses. One fellow had a display that showed working wooden figures, such as seen on wind-powered yard decorations. In this case, they were powered by his engine. One was a woman churning butter, the other was two men cutting wood with a cross cut saw. Good Luck! - Tom

Hi all. Just an engine running sounds good, but an engine doing a job is even better. I run a 1920s plaster mixer with my 1 HP JD, an F-M water cooled compressor with my 2 HP dishpan that also blows a whistle, a silage blower with my 3 HP F-M, all of which are on a trailer that puts them out of reach of the young ones. The more things you can have them do, even if you have to be creative, is better than having them doing nothing. Just make sure that the belt driven stuff is either out of reach or well roped off and watched! -Bob

Ken, I have a number of engines running different things, and some take up a fair amount of room. One setup that I put together, which takes a small amount of room, is this 1- HP F-M and a small Curtis air compressor. The engine and cast iron base was used for a generator. I bought the engine without the generator and made this unit. Just an idea. - John

Hi John, that is a neat little setup! An engine not working is a bored engine! It is getting harder to find the original implements, but a little creative ingenuity goes a long way! - Bob

I bought an air compressor from a gentleman on Harry's site that looks just like the one you have on your display. There was some sort of a governor-like device on the compressor that seems to work kind of funny in that it opens the compressor intake valve above some rotational speed. Do you have any idea how this is supposed to actually work? The logic of what I have totally escapes me. - Russ

The compressor that I have has a toggle-type lever on top of the unit which will stop the compressor from pumping air. It has a plunger under it that goes into the cylinder which in turn lets air escape from the cylinder head when you don't want the unit to pump. However, it will not release on its own, so you also need a pressure relief valve. Mine is set to open at 50 psi. The compressor was built by The Curtis Compressor Co. of St. Louis, Mo. It was sold by Farm Utilities Co. of Portland, Ore. Size of piston bore and stroke is 2-1/8 x 2-. I'm sure that you know you have to install a check valve between the compressor and the air tank. E-mail me if you need information or pictures. - John

Hi all, my F-M compressor also has that compression release lever on the intake. It's manual, probably for starting or to let the engine idle. - Bob

When I first received the compressor, I assumed that the governor-looking device was indeed something to unload the compressor until the speed came up to some point. This makes sense. The way it appears to work is the reverse of that. The compressor will function until the governor operates, then it unloads by holding the intake valve open. I am beginning to think something is not installed correctly. It is put together just the way I received it. I want to use the compressor with a small gas engine, and unlike an electric motor you just can't easily shut the thing down upon reaching operating pressure and then have it restart automatically as the pressure drops. I have considered using a centrifugal clutch on the engine and throttling the engine back to an idle upon reaching operating pressure by means of a small air cylinder, diaphragm, or something like that. When the air pressure dropped to a set point, the engine would throttle back up and start turning the air compressor again. Normally there would be an automatic unloading valve on the compressor operated by the air pressure to stop compressing air at the operating pressure. Then there is the business of finding a centrifugal clutch that drove a flat belt to match the compressor flywheel pulley. Oh well. -Russ

Russ, you need a device called a Load Genie, which is a combination check valve and unloader. It is plumbed into the compressor discharge line. When you reach desired pressure (adjustable) it ports the air from the compressor overboard and at the same time the check valve prevents air from escaping your air receiver. When the pressure drops about 10 to 15 psi, the valve redirects the air to the receiver. This unit is available at W.W. Grainger Co. if you have one nearby. - Max

Thank you very much for that information. I was contemplating several options to accomplish this function. One of the things I was thinking about was trying to make this equipment look authentic for the date it was manufactured. On the other hand, safety is more important than authenticity when it comes to gas under pressure. -Russ

That governor is so the compressor can be run with an electric motor. It allows the motor to come up to speed before a load is put on it. - Scott

My friend John has a lot of neat items like the pictured item, and puts a lot of himself in them. How much did you say you wanted for that horse and a half Waterloo Boy, John? Just a side note, my flag is flying high. I am sure all of yours are too. - Steve

Thanks Steve, no the Waterloo is still not for sale, but we could talk trade on your Harley! - John

The discussion above can be found by visiting SmokStak at SmokStak is an engine conversation bulletin board, which is part of the Old Engine series of web sites that started in 1995 as Harry's Old Engine.

Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Oswego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla. Join SmokStak at: