Taming The Gilson

Gilson 6 HP Engine

The Gilson 6 HP running at the Finch, Ontario show in June, 1990. We showed the engine at three shows last year.

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Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada KOB 1RO

In November 1987, my son Richard bought an engine-a Gilson Wizard made in Guelph, Ontario. That winter, he took apart what was left of it.

The small parts were badly eaten with rust; it was missing one bearing cap, one governor weight, complete connecting rod bearing magneto! Ignition part was still bolted in.

In the May 1988 GEM, page 3, my letter asking for help with parts that I could copy for the Gilson Wizard 6 HP appeared. I received seven letters of reply, and answered each. One man in Quebec knew of one, which turned out to be a 31/2 HP. Two men who had bought a lot of engines knew there was such an engine, and gave a lot of help. A man in British Columbia sent me a nice photo of his, all complete and painted. Another man in northern Ontario has one complete and running, but needs a splash guard on the crankcase. A man in Quebec said he knew of two, but they turned out to be 6 HP make and break ignition, entirely different. The Wizard is throttle governed.

So with no help in parts, we started making our own the following winter (1988-89).

First off, they were a rough made engine. The crankshaft was just in 1/4 out of line with the piston in order to line up with the cam gear, I think, so the crank bearing was worn 1/8' on one side. This we had turned. The cylinder we had resleeved because of rust. In order to shorten up the engine, which had a long cylinder, they cut two slots top and bottom of cylinder connecting rod end 11/4', deep and wide 3' long.

The sub-base hopper and cylinder are all one; that was sent to Montreal for three weeks to be resleeved. There was a crack of nine inches in the bottom of the water jacket. Richard turned it upside down to weld it and heard something fall out on the floor. There it was, the brass name plate, nearly melted from heating the cylinder to put the sleeve in.

Richard welded up the bearing caps and made a new gas tank along with the governor weight. I did the blacksmith's work, and babbitted all bearings. The connecting rod has a trough from end to end to get its oil from the oil cup on the hopper. I did not like this, so we blocked it up and put a grease cup on crankshaft's end.

The gas pump is a 3/8' shaft working off the push rod which trips the magneto and opens the exhaust valve. It is under the magneto and very simple and works good since it was rebuilt. The magneto is bolted on with two bolts, up and down; most Webster magnetos are bolted crossways. We were very fortunate in getting a very good magneto through a machinist friend of mine who goes to a flea market in Florida.

The day came to try and start it. One Sunday while I was at church, my two sons cranked most of the morning and took the magneto off about a dozen times, a good spark each time. After having dinner, I went over and found that the new springs they had put on the magneto were too big and strong, the trip finger would just bend instead of tripping the magneto.

I had an extra F.B.M. magneto with lighter springs which we put on. On the first turn, it started with a big bang and fired several times and then stopped. We tried it several times with the same results. The linkage from the governor shafts to the throttle was not right; it would close tight up under the carburetor on the first explosion and stay there or open again as the engine would be about stopped. This made it jump off the floor.

Richard found out that by putting a little collar on the throttle shaft with a long stove bolt in it and letting the end come up against the bottom of the carburetor, he could adjust it and keep it running smoothly.

We had it at two shows last year, at Sandringham and Kingston, Ontario. While at Kingston, there was an old gentleman there who had a 3/4 HP Gilson Wizard. He was walking with two canes and someone said he was 86 years old. I asked him if he would sell it and he said 'No,' it had been his brother's.