The First Pull

Briggs and Stratton Engine

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2224 Wyandotte Drive Oakville, Ontario L6L 2T5

In the late 1920s Briggs and Stratton realized the need to build a larger engine with a higher power rating. The F series engines that were currently being constructed were only rated at ? to ? HP. The company's result was the model Q. It turned out to be Briggs and Stratton's first flat head engine. As large as this engine was constructed, its power rating was still only 1 HP.

I wanted to add one of these engines to my B&S collection, and finally found one for sale at the Portland, Indiana, show on August 25, 1995. Del Packard, a long time B&S collector, had Model Q engine serial number 3303 for sale at this show. Once we had settled on a price, Del loaded it into a cart and hauled it out to the parking lot for me with his lawn tractor.

Restoration of this engine did not begin until January 11, 1998. In dismantling this engine, I found that it had been restored at least once in the past. As the engine came apart I discovered the usual mixture of old and new bolts, missing pieces, and the fact that the drive side shroud had rusted badly and had been repaired. The muffler, gas tank, rope start pulley and crankcase breather were all homemade or non-original.

The shroud repair consisted of an oversize aluminum plate that had been riveted to the surrounding metal on the inside then levelled with an abundance of plastic body filler. This repair was functional but, being somewhat of a purist, I decided that I would endeavour to repair the hole with sheet metal. I had never attempted this type of repair before but, after glass beading the area, I started by cutting back the feathered edges to clean metal of full thickness.

Next I bought new sheet metal of the correct gauge and cut a piece to the exact shape of the hole so that the fit was as close as possible. After clamping the piece in place, I brazed it to the shroud and found that, regardless of how many clamps I used, the new metal piece did buckle slightly in some places due to the heat. Once the smoothing and final finish coat of paint was applied, I was pleased with the result.

In glass beading the inside surfaces of both shrouds, I found many layers of different colored paint underneath the outer layer of black. This fact lead me to believe that this engine was originally used to operate an air compressor which, in turn, was probably used to run a paint sprayer.

The homemade gas tank had been welded directly to the support brackets. Wanting the finished engine to look as original as possible, I removed the brackets and ground them back to shape. They were mailed to Charles Camara of CPC Reproductions in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Charlie properly mounted them at the correct angle on one of his excellent reproduction tanks. I also took the opportunity to order one of Charlie's reproduction mufflers and a crankcase breather for this restoration project.

The cylinder walls were in good shape but the rings were worn beyond specs, as were the main bearings. The cylinder is detachable from the crank-case on this model, so the upper unit and crankshaft went to Niagara Piston Ring Works in Lockport, New York, for Joe Sykes to make a new set of rings and main bearings.

While the engine parts were spread far and wide, I began a search by phone, email and internet for the correct rope start pulley. I came as close as missing one that had sold only two weeks before my call. Finally I settled for one of CPC's reproduction pulleys made for a B&S model A. Once I had gathered all the repaired and re-production pieces together I was able to complete metal re-finishing and painting of all parts in preparation for the reassembly stage. This stage went smoothly but slowly as time permitted. Finishing touches included a new ignition wire, NOS Champion 6M spark plug and a set of appropriate decals. Up until recently, decals for B&S engines of this age were not available. Having found a set on a model M of the same era, I photographed them and had them computer enhanced. I sent the CD to Charles Camara who had them reproduced for sale to other restorers with engines of the same time period.

Finally, the restored Q was ready to start. My son and I carried it out to the garage on April Fools Day 2000 and clamped it down to a table stand. I filled the crankcase and gas tank, then wrapped a newly made starter rope around the pulley and gave it a pull. The engine started right away. I have never before had a restored engine start on the first pull. In a state of surprise, my son and I just stood there listening and watching the 'Q' run. When I checked the idle rpm, it only needed a very minor adjustment to set it up to specs. I stopped the engine and tried to start it again. It started right up again. According to the serial number, this engine was built in June of 1928 so, at 72 years old, it started its final use as a display engine on the first pull.

This engine will be on display and running this summer at the local shows that I attend in southern Ontario and northwest New York state.