Engine Therapy

16 HP Galloway

Dave Rotigel stands in front of the dedicated trailer he made for his 16 HP Galloway.

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Besides the blowing of smoke, shooting flames and exhausting gas, another dimension of stationary engines has emerged: The successful, therapeutic healing of a momentarily overwhelmed member of the group.

As ever, various individuals started, commented on and concluded the following bulletin board thread, which can be found on SmokStak on the Internet at:

I always wanted a big engine and I've seen lots of them at the shows. Boy oh boy! They always make great showpieces! When I had a chance to buy this Fairbanks-Morse 15 HP Type Z, I had that happy feeling you get when bringing home an old engine. After a while, I began to understand that the bigger the iron and the more weight, the harder it is to work on. The engine is now broken down so it can be moved - and I don't even have a trailer yet that can support it.

After two years, I'm going to have to make up my mind to either put it all together (maybe on a skid) or trade it off for something smaller. What has my emotions mixed, is that it is a Fairbanks-Morse and that's my favorite. Anyone else feel this deep about their old iron, or am I just carried away? - Fairbanks Kid

Big engines? I wimpier every time I think about moving my little Cushman cub. I don't know how something so small can be so heavy. - Steve

I've got two of those things and I load the one that I show on and off the trailer with a come-along. It's easy when I put 1-inch pipe under the skids. Sometimes I put 4 x 4s under the flywheels and roll it off the trailer with the plug taken out to relieve compression. It is easier to unload if your unloading site is close to the same height as your trailer, but it would be better if the big one had its own trailer.

I just turned 65 and I can still crank the 15 HP, although it may not be long until I quit showing it. Maybe this will help you get over the blues. - Lon

Hey kid! Just get motivated and get the job done. Even if you do decide to sell it, it's worth more in running condition. And once you get it running you most likely won't sell it anyhow. Pick up a cart so you can move it around your shop, or take it out and run it until you get a trailer. I just bought a 10 HP Z and I love it. Just getting ready to tear it down for minor repairs, cart alterations, new screen tank and paint job. Looking forward to showing it late this year or early next year. Don't sell it. - Allen

I have several small flywheel engines, but there is nothing like my 9 HP Hercules for me. I believe you would find it was all worth while to restore it. -Ed

Don't sell it! It took me two years to be able to buy a trailer to move my 7 HP Hercules after I put it on old, steel-wheeled running gear. Always remember; even if you don't have a trailer to move it now, it will still bring you a lot of joy to listen to it run at your own home. - Dave

I only have one thing to say, Kid: 'Dedicated Trailer.' Check out Dave Rotigel's 16 HP Galloway and the trailer he built for it, a very fine way to show a large engine. - Ted

If it has been a dream, or a long-time goal to obtain an engine like this, then you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Will I be sorry if I get rid of it? Will I always be kicking myself for getting rid of it? I'm bummed out now, but will it be worse if I get rid of it? Why do I really want to get rid of it? Is my reason for getting rid of it sound? If it turns out that you really want to keep it, then keep it.

You have been in this hobby for a while, and are resourceful -you have to be resourceful to be in this hobby. What you are feeling or thinking might be temporary. If you want to keep it, remember what your mom and dad told you, 'You can do and accomplish anything you set your mind to.' If they never told you that, I'm sure they wanted to. So turn around twice, look in the mirror, and say, 'I own that engine, and I know about that engine, and it's going to be my pride and joy.' This will all just become a memory. Get on with it! - Chuck

Hi Kid, I think the problem is you have big chunks you are trying to move. Break that thing down into smaller pieces, and work on one part at a time. Find yourself a place in the back of your shop, back yard or wherever, and build some skids. As you get a part ready, put it on the engine. You'll be amazed at how fast it will come together.

I have to handle parts all by myself because everyone around my house is female, and they don't intend to sweat! I just have to figure out a way to manhandle the BIG parts. I have two 15 HP Fairbanks that I am building, and I most likely will just keep them at the house for myself and take my trailer of smaller engines to the shows. I have a sign in my shop that says, 'A person who WANTS to do something will find a way, while a person who does NOT, will find an excuse.' So find a way! - David M.

Shortly after I got into this hobby, I got the bug for a big engine and I bought a an oil field engine. She weighs about 5,000 pounds. I have been building a cart for her to take to a show or two and the cart alone has become a big project. You have to take into account the weight of the engine, balance, flywheel to ground clearance and, above all, safety. I'm almost done with the cart, and with almost 20 pounds of welding rod into it I am very proud of the end result.

Sure, the big engines are heavier, and working on some things on them are more difficult, but when I take my engine to a show, chances are it will be the only one of its type there. Next time you attend a show, check out the crowds of people admiring those big old engines, especially hearing them run! To me it's all worth that alone. Don't get me wrong, I still love the little ones, too. But, there's nothing like those big guys just popping along. Good luck, Kid! You'll have it running one of these days. - Pete

Granted, my 6 HP is nowhere near as massive as yours, but it was laying around in parts like yours and it took me months to complete working on it in my spare time. Even if it takes another two years to complete, if you get rid of it, the time is still going to pass, but then you won't have the engine. Take your time, work on it a little bit as you can. You think bringing it home was a thrill, wait 'til she fires for the first time after YOU did all the work. - David.

Thanks, guys, for such great support! I read everyone's advice and thought it over last night. I've decided to keep the big engine.

I'm going to take my time and your advice about trailer and skid ideas - maybe even post some pictures of my progress as I go along. From what I read, there are all kinds of ways to move a big engine around and work on it. And I would miss it if I sold it. We really have a lot of good folks here. - Kid

That's the right attitude. My biggest is a 10 HP Mogul tank-cooled. Fortunately, it's a portable and I can drag it around the yard with my lawn tractor. The ladies of the house pitch in and help push it in the shed and run the winch when loading it on the trailer. - Paul

It might feel like you're pushing an anvil uphill, but that's how you get it to the top of the mountain. Hang in there! - Chuck

Good to hear you are going to keep the big one. I have had my 12 HP Root & Vandervoort running for less than a year now, and it is always stunning to watch. I thought I was mad taking on such a big engine (my previous biggest restoration was a 4 HP) but it was worth it in the end. I bought a small workshop crane to help move parts around and a larger trailer to move the finished engine. The big ones are well worth the effort once you get them to a show. - Patrick

There's no replacement for displacement! Nothing starches my jeans like dragging out the Bessemer half-breed (7-1/2-inch bore) on a summer eve and firing her up. Big iron is a pain to move, but put it all on good carts or dedicated trailers and it is a breeze. The carts/trailers come with the turf - pay to play and save your back. I'd say get her restored by talking through a nice long stack and you'll be hard pressed to let her go. - Paul

This thread hits close to home for me, as well. I have a 15 HP Fairbanks oil engine just waiting for restoration and some way to move it to a show. See - Harry

SmokStak is an engine conversation bulletin board with over 15,000 messages on file and 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.