The Urban Ottawa

Ottawa engines before restoration

Ottawa engines before restoration.

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3901 Heavenly Way, Louisville, Kentucky 40272

After reading all the exciting stories about engines which were found deserted in the far north and midwest, that were lying in the deserted mines and the old farmers' barns, never did I think I would be lucky enough to ever find an engine of my own. For you see, I live in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky.

I was having my house remodeled, when the workman noticed all my engines. He asked me if I knew of anyone who bought them, as his uncle had one for sale. I took the fellow's name and number and I figured he probably lived in the next state. I sure was surprised when he told me he just lived 'up a hollow' only seven miles behind my house!

When I drove to the barn where the engine was sitting, the farmer told me that 47 years ago his dad and he were cutting wood, and that his dad had a heart attack. They just covered the engine with an old stock trough and forgot about it.

When we lifted the trough off the engine, was I surprised when I saw an Ottawa 4 HP log saw with the limb saw attached to the rear! Upon closer inspection, I found the head was badly busted and the piston was stuck. Because the owner believed in using excessive grease and oil, the whole unit was preserved very nicely. The magneto and fuel mixer had even been covered with tar paper.

By this time I knew I had to have the Ottawa, if only I could 'strike a deal' with the farmer. As I was reaching for my wallet, which contained several twenties and a blank check. I asked him if he had a price in mind. He told me he would be well paid to just see the engine restored to like-new condition, and also, see it run again. Well, I must say I then made the world's fastest hand shake on record!

I immediately loaded the saw rig into my pickup and left for home, where I stripped the engine down. I filled the cylinder with penetrating oil for a week and then I drove the piston out the back with an oak wedge, which I cut to fit the cylinder. The head had to be sent to a machine shop to be welded, shaved and new valve guides installed. The only other parts needed were two piston rings.

After cleaning the parts for painting, I decided to replace the clutch with a matching flywheel. By cutting off the log saw mounting bracket, the other flywheel fit snugly. I then hid the tapered shaft with a belt pulley. Next came four coats of original green paint.

I only had to make a few minor adjustments to get the Ottawa running smoothly, then I loaded it up and returned to the farmer's house. I cannot remember what he said, but I will never forget the smile on his face when I cranked the engine up. He then told me he had been well paid and I knew that all the work I had done on the 'URBAN OTTAWA' had been worth it.