The Hired Man Revealed

Part five in a five part series: Restoring an Amanco 2-1/4 HP Hired Man

Rear Axle

The rear axle showing the stub axles welded onto the metal plate.

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Having nearly finished the engine, the cart was next on the agenda. A telephone call resulted in a visit to a nearby farm, where timber was salvaged from the roof of an out-building that was being demolished. Once home, the timber was painstakingly de-nailed, then put through a planer to clean it up, reducing it to 2 inches-by-3-1/4 inches.

I had already acquired two pairs of cast wheels of 10-inch and 12-inch diameters, which had been cleaned up and the centers drilled out for a 7/8-inch diameter axle.

The length of the cart was determined by allowing clearance between the flywheels and the large rear wheels and enough room at the front of the engine for the fuel tank. I also decided on a width of 18 inches between the wheels to allow some stability when steering the engine.

Crosspieces were cross-halved into the two main spars to take the rear axle and provide a pivot point for the front axle. It took some careful thought to work out the adjustments needed to allow for the different heights of the large rear wheels, the turntable at the front and its smaller wheels. It could be said that I placed the front axle too far to the rear, but I did not want the pivot bolt to be under the fuel tank, as I intended to hide the battery and coil there.

The external edges were chamfered with a router, the holes were drilled and the joints were held together with carriage bolts.

Stub axles were made from 6 inches of 1-inch round steel, part of which was turned down to 7/8-inch for the width of the wheel hub plus 1/2 inch, with a 3/16-inch hole, and drilled near the end for a split pin. A spacing washer was made next for each axle to minimize any play on the wheel. The stub axles were then welded on to an 18-inch length of 2-inch-by-1/2-inch flat metal in which holes were drilled for mounting bolts.

Two plates, 3-1/4 inches in diameter, were made from 3/16-inch thick steel, a hole was drilled for the pivot bolt and two smaller, chamfered holes were drilled for the fixing screws. These plates were then inset by 5/32-inch into the wood of the moving axle and cross member.

For steering and moving the trolley, a U-shaped bracket was formed by heating and bending a piece of 1/2-inch-by-1-1/2-inch black iron, with two holes drilled for the mounting bolts plus two holes of 1/2-inch at the ends for the handle.

Two wooden blocks were screwed to the underside of the trolley to prevent the front axle from turning too far and the wheels from hitting the main spars. A small plinth for the fuel tank was made out of four pieces of 1/2-inch thick timber to an external size of 6-1/4 inches-by-9-1/4 inches.

The ignition coil was fixed to the inside wall of the plinth and covered in plastic. A sliding shelf was made so that the battery could be inserted from underneath and then held in position when the shelf was closed.

After filling any cracks in the wood, then sanding, the trolley was given several coats of matte varnish.

A steering handle was made out of a steel rod to slide into the holes in the U-bracket, a length of 1/2-inch rod was welded to it and a wooden handle fitted. The lower end was bent to clear the front of the trolley and a split pin was used to lock it in position in the U-bracket.

Setting up and starting

Harry’s Old Engine website provided guidance on setting up the engine. 

The exhaust valve was adjusted first by moving the screw in the end of the valve rocker. The flywheel was turned slowly until the valve opened when the crankshaft was at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees above its outer dead center. A clearance of 1/10-inch was left between the end of the adjusting screw and the top of the valve stem when the engine was compressing its charge of fuel.

The igniter was tested for operation by connecting it to a battery and snapping it by hand.
The igniter points were set with a 1/16-inch gap. The length of the trip rod was adjusted so that the igniter tripped when the crankshaft was about 10 to 12 degrees before top dead center.

After filling and tightening the grease cups, greasing the big end, oiling the valve stems, pushrod, trip, gears, the end of the piston and filling the oiler, I was almost ready.

Fuel was poured into the tank, the battery was connected and I was ready to start the engine for the first time in many years. I opened the mixer valve to number five and turned the engine over. I held the inlet valve open for three or four revolutions and then released it. There were no signs of life. It took a while for me to discover that the coil I was using, unusually, would spark for only the first two or three flicks, and then die. After changing to an electronic ignition, the engine immediately came to life. After warming up, the mixer needle was closed to the point where the engine would fire without missing.

Minor adjustments were made to the governor springs, detent screw and the ignition was retarded until smooth running was achieved.

Some slight wobble in the movement of the flywheels was acceptable, which showed that the straightening of the crankshaft was about right.

The engine was left to run for an hour, and then all nuts were checked for tightness. During the running, oil was liberally applied to all moving parts. A drip tray had been placed under the engine before starting to save complaints about the state of the garage floor.

After running for six hours, the main components were stripped down so that the bearings could be checked and the paint work tidied up, including the scratches that were made when setting it up.

Having looked at some historic advertisements, I decided to gold line the cylinder block, splashguard and wheel spokes. The correct, and brave, method was to paint each line in one pass with a lining brush. That took a steady hand, which I did not have.

For the cylinder block and splashguard, I used masking tape to define the lines, and used a small artist’s brush to paint between the tape. The tape was carefully removed while the paint was still tacky by pulling it across the paint. This left a small ridge, but a clean line. The curves at the top of the block were completed free hand, with a final touching up of red paint.

Due to the deep pitting, the spokes of the flywheels were not so smooth. I marked out the shape of the lines with a yellow marker pen, and then used a fine brush. Loaded with paint, I made a center line and gradually widened it by working from the middle of the line in smooth strokes. Not perfect, but acceptable.

Finally, the nameplate I purchased was stamped with the engine number and screwed to the back of the engine.

All I need now is the right magneto to fully complete what has been a challenging, but rewarding, restoration. Once I have completed an information board I will be ready for my first show.

I am already looking for my next rusty relic.

Contact Peter Rooke at: Hardigate House, Hardigate Road, Cropwell Butler, Notts, England, NG12 3AH; peter@enginepeter.co.ukwww.enginepeter.co.uk 

Read part one
Read part two
Read part three 
Read part four