1408 N. Van Buren Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
In the April 1991 issue of the Gas Engine Magazine I had an article about my Odd-Ball Light Plant. This was a John Deere engine with a 115V 3 PH 25 cycle DC generator. I hooked the three legs of the three phase together, making a 75 cycle generator. The engine was changed from a spark plug to a hot tube ignition. I then sold the unit to Richie Thompson.
This summer I bought a cabin in southeast Iowa and needed a generator for power in my new hideaway. I decided to call the Thompsons, to see if they would sell the unit to me. After deciding on a price, Rich agreed to deliver the unit to my new cabin. After looking at the engine and generator, I realized it did not look like the same unit I had sold years ago. Charles Wendel, who graduated from MIT* with a degree in engineering, and Richie
Thompson, who is an expert on restoring antique engines, had changed the engine by removing the hot tube. In its place they had made an adaptor to use a diesel injector nozzle along with the hot tube, making the engine a cross between a Lanova-Hesselmam that they named a 'LAHASSEL' method. They used various fuels in trying to get the engine to run. After trying different fuels, it was found that a combination of three parts castor oil and one part Bud Lite was an ideal fuel.
Charles came up with a unique method of driving the diesel injector pump. I am also a graduate of MIT*. I had to go back to the textbooks to understand how Charles could drive this pump with a belt from the flywheel. They had discovered that the generator had five brushes, one for each five cycles. They removed one brush, leaving four delivering 20 cycles each. With the three legs of the generator tied together, this would be able to deliver 60 cycles Dc.
At this time Mary Faye Thompson comes into the story. I remember when she painted a large Fairbanks-Morse generator at the Midwest Old Threshers, she did not get all of the green paint on the engine; she came back to the travel trailer with a green dress. Mary's granddaughter Marilyn said she would like to paint Grandpa's engine. Mary Faye gave her $5.00 and told her to buy the paint for the engine. She gave the old John Deere a wonderful paint job, 'Allis-Chalmers Orange.'
*MIT in this instance is not Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is Mystic Institute of Tomfoolery. Signed, 'Thomas J. Foolery.'
Thanks to Charles Wendel, Richard and Mary Faye Thompson and their granddaughter Marilyn Thompson for using their names in this fun article.