Two Gas Engines Running: Or, From Mouse House & Mud Dauber Nest to Restoration

Cylinder Titan Tractor

Courtesy of 'Everett G. Althaus, 706 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mendota, Illinois 61342

Everett G. Althaus

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R.R. 13, Box 302, Muncie, Indiana 47302

Everyone who has restored gasoline engines no doubt has tales to tell. This is my attempt at recording a couple of episodes in the history of two engines. These two engines were discovered and collected by me and restored by myself and my father, Louis Siefker (an engine restorer par-excellent) of Seymour, Indiana. The first engine is an International Harvester Model LA, 1 1/2-2 1/2 h.p. The second engine is a Fairbanks Morse Model Z, Style D, 2 h.p. I discovered the International Harvester engine by following up on a public auction add in a local paper. Included in this farm sale listing was an 'old gas engine'. The sale was on a Saturday and it happened to be one that I was working, so on the Friday evening before the auction my father-in-law, Merritt Marshall of Muncie, Indiana, and I drove out to the sale site. We found the International Harvester, Model LA. After we talked with the widow who was having the sale and after we expressed some interest in the gas engine she revealed that the engine did not belong to her, but was actually owned by her neighbor lady, also a widow. The lady reported that several years ago her late husband had gasoline engines the engine from their neighbor, and used it for power to pump water out in their back forty. She said it had not run for years. She reported that she had forgotten about the engine until preparing for the sale. She had then asked her neighbor lady if she wanted the gas engine returned to her or auctioned off with the proceeds going to the owner. The owner-neighbor lady said to sell it. Well, the old engine was stuck and the magneto was missing from it, but the lady thought the magneto was in the loft of an old out building on her farm. Upon checking, sure enough, the magneto was there and the lady agreed that the magneto would be sold right along with the engine. My father-in-law, who was to be my bidder at the sale, and I agreed on the top price we would go. Fortunately, we were the highest and successful bidder on the gas engine. So, late on the Saturday evening in July, 1971, we hauled an 'old gas engine' to a new home.

Threshing on the George D. Bauer farm sometime back in the teens with a 30-60 HP two cylinder Titan tractor manufactured by International Harvester Company. This tractor was purchased new back in 1913 by George Wendel and sons, Henry and Arthur of Clarion Township, La Moille, Illinois.

Before that, in 1909 they purchased a 1908 single cylinder International tractor which was just a big 20 HP gas engine on wheels that propelled itself. It was used here and out in Iowa for farm work. Then in a couple years they traded for a Titan '45' two cylinder with a hit and miss governor about 1910. Then when the above 30-60 two cylinder kerosene burning throttling governor Tital tractor came out in 1913 - it was just what the boys wanted and they traded the '45' Titan for the '30-60' Tital, which was one of the tractors they used until the combine took over.

For the first ten years this tractor was used in Clarion Township by Arthur Wendel for threshing and plowing with a nine bottom 16 inch plow. Then the rest of its life, it was used by his brother, Henry Wendel in Sublette Township for threshing, plowing and sawmill work until about the early forties when the combines arrived. It sat in Henry's yard for about 20 years. The junk dealers tried to get it in World War II but Henry wouldn't let them have it, but they did succeed in getting the big plow which was a lot of iron in itself.

In the early 1960s this old Tital 30-60 was purchased from Henry Wendel by Glenn Thomas of Route 4, Ottawa, Illinois who has restored this old tractor and saved it from the scrap heap.

This old picture was taken on my Grandfather's farm and I happened to find it in my Aunt's picture Album.

Now, when man no longer has use for things like gas engines and they fall into disuse, sometimes something else, like animals, insects, or birds take over and make use of these pieces of tired iron. This we discovered to be the case both with the International Harvester and with the Fairbanks Morse.

As my dad and I began the restoration of this IHC Model LA we very quickly discovered that, yes indeed, the engine had become a mouse house. The fact that the magneto had been removed from the engine for a long time made a nice hole opening for mice to get inside the closed crank engine. That dark, dry, quiet, and fairly warm place must have made a good mouse residence. No, we had not bought a pig-in-the-poke, as we did not even get one mouse with the engine, only a mouse nest. My dad and I removed the nest, got the engine unstuck, remounted the magneto and completely restored the former mouse house. It now runs smoothly.

The Fairbanks Morse Model Z, Style D, 2 h.p. engine I discovered within one-half mile of my home. Like many things that are just under your nose or just in front of your eyes, I never knew that the little square shaped FM was there. One day in May, 1972, my next door neighbor told me he had been riding his motorbike out in some of the fields near our place. He knew I collected old gas engines and he said he had seen something that to him kind of looked like some of those engines I had. The old farm place was about a quarter mile down the cross - road from my house. The old house had burned to the ground a few years ago and a bad wind storm had blown down the ancient barn a couple of years later.

Top left - a 1939 F-14 Farmall and Turnery Haybaler -- at right is a 1919 Fordson and a No. 2 Champion. Bottom left shows a 1922 8-16 I.H.C. and a No. 4 Geiser while the scene at the right shows an overshot Champion doing a good job. This machine is owned by Mr. J. W. McCollum. My Dad is doing the feeding. These pictures are from the Colfax Threshing Show August 1973.

So, late one Saturday afternoon I walked over to what I thought was an abandoned place. The old homestead was many rods back off the county road and I walked up what used to be a lane. Well, nothing but debris from the former house and barn was in sight except an old crumbling shell of a shed. Outside of this shed I then spotted the rusted little one solid flywheel Fairbanks Morse gas engine mounted on an old homemade rig of a concrete mixer. There was an electric motor also mounted on and belted up to this mixer. I thought that was a good sign. Perhaps I could buy that engine. No sooner had I put my hand on the flywheel and discovered that the engine was not stuck and had good compression than I heard the cracking sounds of a small rifle being discharged. I never saw anyone and didn't really feel in danger but 1 sure didn't want to get hurt so 1 started back out the abandoned lane. By the time I got back to the county road there was a car and two young men waiting in it. They asked me if I was trying to steal something back there. I told them no, but I sure would like to find out who owned the gas engine as I would like to purchase it. These two young gentlemen then told me they had spotted me back there and they had fired a couple of rifle shots up in the air. The one young fellow then said his father owned the place and also owned the cement mixer. He said he thought his father would not want to sell the mixer. But he had misunderstood me and then I carefully explained that the only thing I was interested in was the old gas engine which was still on the mixer. The young man went on to say that his dad had bought the mixer two or three years earlier and it already had the electric motor on it and they had never even bothered to try to use the gas engine. He seemed very surprised that I wanted to buy the old engine. He just could not understand why anyone would want it. I made him an offer then and there, gave him my telephone number, and he promised to call and let me know.

Pictured is a Cald well inverted cylinder vapor-cooled gasoline engine owned by Elmer Haecker of Blue Rapids, Kansas. Elmer asked me to snap the picture and write a brief caption for it. The picture was taken at Eshelmans' S.W. Iowa show in 1973. Here is the extent of the information we have and would like to hear from anyone concerning this engine.

It was installed in a German butcher shop at Gothamburg, Nebraska to grind meat. The horsepower is not known, but the age is thought to be between 1905-10. Elmer bought the engine in 1968 and now has it beautifully restored and running. It has a solid brass connecting rod and 5 spoke flywheels. It is vapor-cooled by a blower and a small water spray which upon contacting the hot cylinder, vaporizes, cools, and then condenses and runs back into a small sump to by cycled again.

Elmer feels it could be an experimental model or one of only a few built. If you have any knowledge of this engine please contact Elmer.

Shown in picture is John Knights of Tynong, Victoria, Australia. It is an 18-36 Hart Parr and note the 'Australian Special' cast on the radiator. He has another 18-36 and their serial numbers are 32117 and 32376. The engine on the wagon is an 8 HP Blackstone built in England about 1896. It is hot tube ignition and runs quite well driving a 5' pump.

The following Monday when I got home from work my wife told me that the man had called about that engine and that he would be calling again. Before I was able to finish eating my supper the young man called back. Yes, they would sell the old gas engine. He kept asking if I would still pay the amount I said I would on the previous Saturday. I assured him that I was a man of my word and my offer was good. So, I suggested that we arrange to meet sometime and we would get the engine off the old mixer and I would pay him for it. He then told me that he already had removed the engine from the mixer, had it in his two-wheeled trailer and hitched up behind his car. He indicated that for the price I was paying (which was really very reasonable) he included delivery. He brought the engine right over, we unloaded it and I paid him. He didn't say, but I'm sure his dad let him have the money which I paid for the little FM which now, on a rainy day in May, 1972, had a new home. Eight months later a bulldozer leveled entirely the old homesite and who knows what would have been the fate of the engine had 1 not gotten it when I did.

My father and I began restoring the Style D, FM. It was not long until we had it running after repairing a fuel line problem. But the governor did not work. The engine ran only at a very fast speed. Tearing into it, we discovered that mud daubers had made this engine their home. Now mud daubers, being among the most intelligent insects on earth, had built their nest of little tube-shaped cells on the governor rod of this engine. Thus the governor could not work freely. No, we did not get stung on this engine as we did not get one mud wasp with it, only the nest in the shape of little organ pipes. We removed the nest and restored the former mud dauber residence. The throttle governor now works freely and the little green Fairbanks Morse engine runs smoothly.

I, in common with all others with a hobby, am something of a pack-rat and when an item arouses my curiosity I try to learn more about it. This summer I obtained this outboard motor and would like to learn something about its history of manufacture, motor data and colors.

Have not tried to start it, but it has compression and turns freely so presume that hooking up a battery and coil and giving it some gas it would still chug away. There is no throttle, speed was controlled by advancing the spark.

On the flywheel is stamped: Wisconsin Row Boat Motor Mfg. Wisconsin Machine Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The former owner had written, before he passed away, that this motor was made in 1916 and developed 7 h.p. at 8500 rpm.

Also I would like to learn year of manufacture and colors of a Wallis Tractor 15 h.p. serial #26605 made by the J.I. Case Plow Works, Racine, Wisc.

Besides these I have several one cylinder engines, a 1926 T. Tudor, a 1928 A. Ford or, a 1928 A Paaton and a 1928 Victory 6 Dodge. Still have a lot of restoring to do, but I enjoy getting grease under my fingernails.

The operator of this 1908 30X60 H.P. Aultman Taylor, gas engine, is my Dad, Howard Jurney, [nowresiding at Jacques Lodge, Unit 171, 2500 Bow Trail, Calgary, Alberta]. He was moving two separators, a Gaar Scott and an Aultman Taylor to the home place at Vulcan, Alberta.

I have nothing against a field mouse even though mouse means 'thief'. A mouse did not steal the International Harvester engine. I have very little against mud daubers as I read they are nervous rather than mean --they sting only when they are bothered or frightened. I believe the mice and the mud daubers found a new and better home just as did these two fine engines;GN-73

Pictured is a motor that I have and as you might well guess, I need all the help I can get as to who manufactured it and what it looked like in the original form. It looks as though it had gone through a fire and the parts made of aluminum are mostly all melted away.

It is a two cycle design, flywheel diameter is 20' x 1-1/8' wide, bore 4-3/4', stroke 5' approximately. Serial Number 52. There is some paint left on lower part of flywheel and is of A-C orange color. Crankshaft support bearings are tapered roller. Flywheel's held on with 1-1/4' hex nuts. Carburetor is missing.

Two pictures taken at Brooks, Oregon 1973. At left, looks like a unique chariot. At right is Jacob's grandson, Stanley standing by a homemade tractor model.

These engines are at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Sask., and are all in running condition. They can be seen each year at the Saskachimo Exhibition, which is held at Saskatoon. The first engine is a 3-wheel Best Cat; the second one is a 30 x 60 Rumely; and the third one is a 16-30 Rumely.

The snapshot above was taken at the Spring Gas-Up at Branch #6 EDGE & TA. That is my son, John and myself on Cletrac. The gas-up was held at Mike Giani's place in Montica, California on June 17, 1973. It is a 1923 Cletrac 12-20 HP, Model 'W'. I now have it complete with all original details. I have restored it from a pile of rusty junk. [Marvin says he may send us the description of the restoration in a written article sometime]

A rare Mietz & Weiss engine, hot tube, owned by Carl E. Rhodes, Jr., Route 1, Bridgewater. Taken at Bridgewater Vol. Fire Co. Steam & Gas Meet. Photo by Charles Clemmer, Dayton, Virginia.

1973 Pioneer Acres Show [Calgary, Alberta]. This is a new engine in the Club, a 20 x 40 Case, on the Baker Fan; operator is Wilfred Robinson of Strathmore, Alta., and a very good one. You will note trailers parked in background.