Worth The Wait

Unidentifed Engine

'Before' picture engine could be run in this condition.

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12234 Harris Carleton, Michigan 48117

This story really starts back in 1995. For some reason the looks of upright engines had caught my eye. I don't know why, but they did. I had seen a Scott Ewing at the Findlay, Ohio, show. I really liked that steam engine type look. So I started thinking about a Bates & Edmonds. A Bates has that same look, plus I like the history behind the company, the Bates and Olds connection.

So I started asking all my engine buddies about Bates & Edmonds engines. They all said that they had seen them for sale at shows now and then, at a fair price. When talking to Bates collectors, I would ask if I could stop by to look over their engines and take some pictures. When the day came for me to buy a Bates I hoped to know what the engine should have on it.

Every month when GEM would arrive, I would go right to the classifieds hoping to find my Bates, but that would be too easy, wouldn't it? To raise money I sold a couple of engines, motorcycle and an ATV. I thought I had all the cash I would ever need.

The first year went by with no engine. The second year went by; the only Bates I found was a 5 HP, but that was just too large for me. I went to one auction that advertised a Bates, but it turned out to be a Bull Dog (not an upright) had a good time anyway. It's not like I didn't have anything to work on. It was a good time to restore my Grand Haven tractor that I had been putting off for about five years. I also picked up a nice Ideal upright, at a price I just could not pass up.

With no luck at all finding a Bates, I had decided I wanted a metal lathe. One of the club members had a nice 12 x 36 Clausing. When I paid him for it, something in the back of my mind told me the phone would ring the next day and someone would have a Bates engine for sale. After buying the lathe and some needed tooling, about half my engine money was gone.

Well, the phone did not ring the next day. It only took three more months. An engine buddy called and had a line on a 3 HP that a collector had at Cass City, Michigan. That fellow turned out to be Dave Babcock.

I gave Dave a call and that next weekend my son and I were on our way. My son was taking drivers' training and needed to have 50 hours driving time as part of his training, so he drove all the way. That Saturday was a sunny, cold January day. It's about a three hour trip, and we arrived at 3:00 p.m. The Bates engine I was hoping to find would be 1 to 2 HP with the early style mixer, the long tube type and I would really like it to be one that had a Bates & Edmonds engine tag. Many Bates were sold under the Fairbanks name, but at this point, and after looking for three years, I would have been quite happy with anything.

When we arrived, the first order of business was to look over Dave's collection of engines and tractors. Why is it that everybody else's stuff always looks better than your own? Dave had started a fire in the large wood stove to knock off the January cold. We then got down to business to look over the Bates engine, it was somewhat roughno, it was rough. There were some cracks in the water jacket, as well as many missing parts. The fuel pump, and all relative parts, as well as the upper half of the mixer and all the fuel lines, were gone. The fuel tank was cast in the base of the engine. The top of the fuel tank was busted in. This is also where oil is collected for the connecting rod.

For some reason, I don't know why even to this day, I pulled up sleeve, and reached down into the fuel tank through the hole in the top and stuck my hand into about eight inches of old oil, black, dirty oil and grease. As I was feeling around, I found a piece of something. We cleaned it up. What luck! It was a piece of busted tank casting.

Now with a stick, I was digging out all kinds of stuff from this tank. We even found a large red shirt. We did find all of the missing pieces. With those pieces, the repair job would be much easier. We also removed the cylinder head and checked the inside of the cylinder for cracks. It looked okay. The engine had been fitted with an aluminum piston. It must have run for some time with this piston, as there was carbon build-up on the top.

We decided on a price. I was a little short on money. At this point, buying the lathe had crossed my mind, but Dave said he would hold it for me until I came up with the cash. So I gave him what I had.

It was now time to head for home. On the way my son said that he couldn't understand how two guys could look at one engine for four hours. I said it wasn't that long. He said we had arrived at 3:00 and it was now past 7:00 p.m.

The Bates & Edmonds was a 3 HP with an early style mixer and a cast brass Bates engine tag, so I was quite happy, It was a little big, but so what. It was now time to get the creative finance machine in gear. I am not saying things were tight, but if I'd seen a penny on the ground, I would have picked it up.

Well, with no money and no engine, I had some free time on my hands. So I went through all my Gas Engine Magazines and to everyone that had an engine like mine I wrote them a letter, looking for information. Two guys came through in a big way Norman Parrish of Kentucky and Richard Stancliff of Virginia. They both sent me pictures and drawings of the parts I needed to find or make. I also found a fellow with an engine that had a Bates-type mixer. I was very happy to find out that the missing top of the mixer was just a reservoir, with no fancy valves or gizmos inside.

The time finally came to pick up my engine. That just happened to be the same weekend Dave was having a gas-up to start his 30 HP hopper cooled Foos (see May 99 GEM). That was a great day for me, finally getting my Bates, and spending the day chewing the fat with some engine people.

With the Bates at home and a good look over, I probably could have made it run the way it was, but I thought, why? So I took it apart piece by piece and each part was given a good look over. I found that the timing gears did not line up; they ran off to one side about half the width of the gear. It looked like it might be a bent bolt.

With a bare engine block, I started to weld up the cracks in the water jacket. That repair was pretty much straight forward, but the top of the fuel tank was something else. Much time was spent trying to figure out how to hold all the pieces in place. With the four-inch plug removed from the bottom of the fuel tank, I was able to tack-weld the pieces from the backside. Then from the top, I veed out the cracks and did what I thought was a good solid weld job. A new top plug was made and pressed into place; then three coats of fuel tank sealer was applied from the backside to stop any small leaks.

That spring at the Coolspring show, I met up with Norman Parrish, where we talked about the workings of the Bates engine. While there, I took the opportunity to measure up and make a print of the fuel pump on a 5 HP Bates that they had there. I also took some good close-up pictures of the parts I needed to make.

When I returned home, I made a fuel pump pattern and a parting board and sent it to the foundry to be cast out of brass. Let me say it was not cheap, but what are you going to do? At the same time, the crankshaft was sent out to have the rod journal welded up and resized. At some point in time, the crankshaft sat in water and was in rough shape.

Waiting for the fuel pump and crankshaft to come back, I went after that camshaft bolt that I thought was bent. Well you know, that wasn't the case. The hole wasn't drilled straight from day one. The cam gear bolt is a left-handed thread and of a pitch that is no longer available. I was able to pick up a left-handed tap and die. I have a large drill press, and was able to get the pottorn end in the press. The cylinder end was held up with a floor jack and blocks of wood. This was a real show, I must say. The old bolt hole was drilled out to one-inch; a steel plug was pressed into place. The crankshaft and camshaft gear were installed and lined up, then redrilled. I even used the drill press to start the tap in to keep it straight. Now the gears ran true and on center. Remember that lathe that I had some re-grets about buying, well, it was really handy to have about this time. Besides the machining on the fuel pump, all the nuts, bolts and shafts had to be remade. Most parts were either rusted, worn out or missing. I was only able to use about six of the original bolts that came with the engine.

I am not a machinist, so making up the fuel pump and lines seemed to take forever. There are 28 different pipes and fittings that make up the fuel lines. Finally things started to come together and it began to look like an engine again. Start up day was finally at hand. For some reason I was very nervous about this engine. I had visions of its catching fire, so I had two fire extinguishers at hand. Everything worked and it started, but it did not run well or long. I had to replace all the springs on the engine and igniter, and had nothing but trouble with them. They were either too strong or too weak. I think I bought two of every spring the hardware had. It took all summer to get them figured out, but I did. By fall of '99 it was running great. With some horse-trading I was able to come up with a nice engine cart.

By winter everything came apart for painting. It was a complete case of overkill; all the castings were filled and the bright metal was shined up and polished. The engine base was installed on a freshly painted engine cartit made a nice handy work bench for putting it all back together. Three days after it was done, the Bates was on the trailer headed for Cool springs spring show 2000.

I am guessing the year of this engine to be 1901 with a serial number of 852. Well it only took three years to find this Bates and two and a half years to repair and restore it. I would have to say it was Worth The Wait.