The 24-Year Itch

Over Two Decades Separated this 5 HP Majestic from Owner Charles Stewart

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In the May 2004 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, an article was published about making a suitable mixer for a Majestic engine without altering the remaining "water faucet" intake pipe. Since the design has proven successful after running the engine at several shows, we would like to share "the rest of the story."

The current owner, Charles Stewart of Altamont, N.Y., inherited the Majestic from his father in 1979. No history prior to that time is known. Charles sold it to a local engine collector who simply put it in a shed and did nothing with it until 2003, when he sold it back to Charles. All those years in storage it sat propped up against a wall.

When the engine was brought to my shop for the mechanical restoration, it was lightly stuck and the hopper was full of insulation and mattress stuffing from a recent rodent residence. After cleaning it up, the piston was removed and, as the picture shows, the cylinder was the food storage area for the residents. Fortunately, the bore was not ruined as it usually is when subjected to these conditions.

While I was proceeding with the mechanical work, Charles was building the trucks in his shop. He is actually quite capable of doing the complete restoration himself, but he always has so many irons in the fire at the same time. A joint project between the two of us kept us both focused on getting it done during the winter months. The trucks he used were originally under a large piece of machinery. The rotten wood was discarded, the axles were narrowed (which involved lathe work to machine a taper on each of them), and some nice donated oak skids made a sturdy set of trucks.

Once the piston was out, the valves were lapped in without removing the cylinder head. We freed up the rings and reused them, as well as rebuilt the igniter. John Wanat, a GEM advertiser, made the new, round gas tank. My brother, who enjoys woodworking, made the battery box from some old wooden crates that Charles had.

The completed trucks were delivered to the shop where the engine was waiting. After lowering the engine onto them, the gas tank, gas line, battery box and wiring were installed.

For the initial start-up, Charles was not present. My objective was to have the governor, timing and mixer all adjusted and operating properly so it would start and run as best as possible.

I believe he was satisfied by the smile I witnessed when he did see and hear it run for the first time. It was taken to some shows in 2004. At the Hanford Mills Museum Antique Engine Jamboree, East Meredith, N.Y., on Sept. 11-12, we belted it up to a buzz saw and sawed some slab wood for a demonstration.

So, after owning the Majestic in 1979, not owning it for 24 years, then re-acquiring it in 2003, it has finally been brought back to life to be enjoyed by the old iron community.

There is another chapter in the saga. Charles wanted to compensate me for what I did. No money changed hands, but we did change ownership of some things, which will be written about soon.

Contact engine enthusiast Bob Naske at: 2059 State Highway 29, Johnstown, NY 12095.