From Rust To Run

Pile of Iron

My restored 'pile of iron'. Courtesy of Ellis L. Birkey, Fisher, Illinois 61843

Ellis L. Birkey

Content Tools

Fisher, Illinois, 61843

It all started one fine spring morning when a decision was made to visit a fellow engine collector, who lives at Russellville, Missouri, about 35 miles from our cottage, on the Lake of the Ozarks, where vacation time is divided between fishing and engine hunting.

Arriving at the Basil Amos farm, one wouldn't have to look twice to see a fine collection of restored gas engines. Basil just doesn't pass up any old engines, no matter what shape they are in. That is why there was an old rusty and broken pile of iron laying under a tree. As I was trying to read the nameplate, Basil asked if I ever saw an engine sold by the Lansing Company? I said 'no, but if I had that pile of iron home I would restore it. What do you think.' Basil said, to my surprise, he said 'if you will restore that mess I will give it to you. I should have used my eyes better and kept my mouth shut.'

After loading the pile in the trunk of my car, I found the following missing; both main bearing caps, the connecting rod bearing cap, governor assembly, both valve heads rusted off, the crankshaft cut off with an acetylene torch just beyond the main bearing, one flywheel missing with the missing part of the crankshaft.

The cylinder was rusted so deep that one could lay a split pea in some of the pits, so to rebore the cylinder was out of the question as the head gasket area would be too narrow. A dry sleeve had to be installed.

The bore was 3-5/8, so a sleeve from an IHC model H tractor which has a 3-7/16 bore and was a few thousands toolarge fit in the cylinder so with a small amount of noning the sleeve was driven in the block. That made a nice smooth cylinder. The IHC model H piston fit the bore, the connecting rod had to be cut and the tractor wrist pin end welded on as the tractor piston pin was too large for the original rod.

Next came the head with the valve stems stuck in the guides and heads rusted off. The valve seats were badly pitted, so oversize valves were needed which was found by using automotive valves and cutting the stems to length. A working set of valves were made. The missing connecting rod cap also the crankshaft main caps were made by using double strength pipe. Cutting a section in half and a bushing welded on each side, thus after repouring the connecting rod and mains with babbitt the crankshaft was ready for fitting, except it had lost about 7 inches to the use of an acetylene torch.

The shaft size being 1-3/8, a 1-2 inch shaft was welded on, then put in a lathe and turned down to 1-3/8. The crankshaft was then fitted to the newly poured bearings. The engine originally had a mag which was also missing, so a timer was built on the exhaust valve push rod. Missing governor parts were made, the engine assembled and was ready to run except one flywheel was missing. A search was made for the flywheel. To make a long story short, the party from whom Basil got the engine, needed a counter weight for an outside basement door so with a torch he cut the crankshaft at the flywheel hub. We tried to buy the flywheel, but the owner says it is being used and he will not sell it. At this time the engine is running with only one wheel.

I called the Lansing Company, Lansing Michigan, asking them who built the engine. They said they built cement mixers and bought the engine and had no record as to who made it.

The nameplate reads: The Lansing Company, Lansing Michigan - 525 RPM - 2 H.P. -Serial No. W68715

I wonder if some reader can supply information as to the builder of the engine and its original color.

Back view and side view of a horsedrawn field chopper made by Thieman Harvester Company, Albert City, Iowa. It has a four cylinder Dodge motor on it but I am quite sure this is not what it came with from the factory. Could anyone tell me what make motor it came out with and was it mounted crossways or lengthwise?