Steel Beams

A. L. McGowan

Content Tools

Route 4, Box 379, Easley, South Carolina 29640.

This summer has been quite an experience on the subject of moving and restoring large diesel engines. In an earlier Gas Engine Magazine article, 'A Sleeping Giant', I discussed my discovery of a large Fairbanks Morse twin cylinder, (2) cycle, 300 R. P. M, 80 H. P., full diesel weighing 14 tons. The engine S/N is 632698 and was built October 29, 1925, in Beloit, Wisconsin. In this article I will relate my subsequent undertakings.

The first major project was to dig two (2) holes, 4 feet deep in this hard South Carolina red clay and build two (2) forms 18 inches high, and strong enough to support 8 yards of concrete. Naturally it rained several times before the concrete was poured and the holes had to be pumped out. Great care was required in making sure that the hold down studs were in the right location as there is no second chance when all that concrete sets up.

Usually there is not any one around when there is some concrete to be poured, but luck was with me on that day. A good neighbor, Douglas Moody, an engine tinker himself, volunteered to come over and help. A co-worker, Calvin Martin and his father appeared unexpectedly just as the hard part began. Without ever being introduced, Mr. Martin gave me a quarter to make change to pay for the concrete and with good clothes and all helped pull one end of a smoothing plank. It was my pleasure meeting and showing Mr. Martin my engines after the work was finished.

The hottest place I know is in the loft of an old tin building during the heat of the day. This is where I found myself last July when I was disassembling the large exhaust stack. I would say this was the hardest part of the whole project.

The next step was to raise the 'Sleeping Giant' from its foundation. This was accomplished by placing a hydraulic jack under the large flywheel and one under the governor end of the engine. After the engine was broken loose from the grouting it was just a matter of lifting one end and then the other until it was high enough to slide the large steel beams and rollers under it.

Top left-Engineer's ladder and platform has been removed and the engine raised so the steel beams could be slid under for loading. Center--The low-boy is in place and the engine is being rolled onto the trailer. Note: 2' bar stock roller and come-along chain. At right-Charles Wigington has just pulled the large rig out of the gin and checking hold down chains for the trip home. At bottom left-The Sleeping Giant is safely home and awaiting the unloading operation. Sorry there are none of this operation because I was too busy. Center-'Three Big Puff-a-Billies' all in a row. How many remember that poem?--At right--The air tank is being pumped up to 200 psi for initial start-up. Note: Vapor coming from water hop-per on 6 HP F. M.

A good friend, Charles Wigington, made his tractor and low-boy available to move the 'Sleeping Giant' home. The loading task went just like clock work. I started about 6:00 o'clock and the engine was loaded and tied down by 8:45. Charles had some grading work to finish so it was late that same day before the large rig came pulling in the yard.

It was quite a sight to see all the people's faces as I rode along behind the large rig. I could tell by their expressions if they knew what they were looking at or if they were thinking, 'What in the world is that thing.' Naturally we had to stop by Cotton Long's little country store to get a cold drink and draw a crowd. I would hear someone say, 'What will that fellow come home with next?' 'How much does it weigh?' 'Would you look at the size of those cylinders and that flywheel. You had better be careful and not let that thing fall on you.' 'What will your wife say when you drive up with that?'

My father, Joe McGowen, from Watha, N. C. is still wondering how I arranged so perfectly to bring the engine home the same day that he arrived for a few days vacation.

The next day was when the real test came. Since I had two foundations ready to have engines mounted on them, I figured I could justify the price of a crane for one hour. This was really a good decision and saved a lot of hard work. I never knew a crane could be handled with such gentleness. I believe the operator could have set the engine on a fly and never hurt it.

It was a great relief to see those hold down studs line up perfectly with the base holes.

A lot of hard work has been done and there is still a lot more ahead, but on a much lighter scale. The excitement of making that initial start was beginning to flash through my mind. But from experience I knew not to get ahead of myself.

There was the leveling and grouting of the engine that had to be done. The oil pump and injector nozzles must be disassembled and cleaned. Also the force feed lubricator and injectors had to be cleaned and primed. All the cooling plumbing required replacement and the system needed flushing. The air starting tanks were connected to a system I already had installed to another engine.

With all this behind me, the great awakening is about to take place. The air pressure gauge is reading 200 PSI. Number 2 cylinder is primed and number 1 cylinder is 10 degrees ATDC. The air lever is pushed forward to the starting position and the large flywheel starts to rotate. There is a large bang and a cloud of black smoke shoots from the exhaust stack causing loose deposits of carbon and dust to rain down.

'The Sleeping Giant' is now awake and stretches her 80 H. P. at 300 R. P. M. She looks around and sees five (5) other large diesel engines instead of a junk yard. With a sigh of relief she realizes this is the place where old engines go--McGowen's Home for Retired Engines.

The hard work is completed and the first start-up was very rewarding, but there is one more task to be completed. It takes time and skill to move, mount and restore an old engine, but the task of putting all this work into words for an article in the 'Gas Engine Magazine' takes a different talent. A special thanks goes to a fellow co-worker, Barry Bas-den for correcting and proof reading these last two articles. He is also a good listener on the topic of gas engines and like most women, even his wife, DeAnn, is still getting the last word in because she does the typing. My thanks goes to all concerned for helping make a dream come true.

Our 5 HP Galloway engine manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa.

My Standard cream separator that I restored. It is all original.

I really enjoy the G. E. M. and Iron-Men Album and wish they were a weekly. When the mail comes, they are the ones that get read from cover to cover and many times over.