RESTORING PAST MEMORIES

2 HP Witte headless hit and miss gas engine

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HCR-61 Box 70M Capon Bridge, West Virginia 2671I

This is a 2 HP Witte headless hit and miss gas engine, serial number 60400, made in 1922. It belonged to my grandfather; I can remember him starting it for us when I was young. I acquired it from my parents in summer 1998, and it was to be my first restoration project. Since it was my grandfather's, I was really looking forward to getting it restored and hearing it run again.

I started by looking it over to see what was missing and what other parts I was going to need to restore it. All that was missing was the gas tank and a grease cup. I ordered these parts from Starbolt Engine Supplies, along with a spark plug and some new wire. I checked the magneto and realized that it was going to have to be rebuilt, since it had a very weak spark. I ended up sending it to Mark's Magneto Service in Lisbon, Connecticut, whom I found in the classifieds in GEM.

I proceeded by taking it completely apart, where I found the valves badly worn and unusable. The exhaust lever had also been broken. My brother-in-law, Randy Gochenour, who runs a machine shop in Virginia, did all the machine work that was needed. He found two valves in his shop with the same diameter shaft and head size which, after some cutting on the metal lathe, were made to match the old ones. He also redid the valve guides and valve seats, repaired the exhaust lever, and replaced the wornout studs in the carburetor housing.

The original skids were still on the engine but were too bad to be used, so I made new ones from a 4'x4' that I cut down to the original size. Then I bought an old steel-wheeled cart from a friend at work and tore it down and refinished it. I sandblasted all the metal and primed and painted it. The wood was sanded down and stained, then finished with five coats of 'Clear Shield,' which makes any grease or oil that gets on it easy to wipe off. Next, I sprayed the engine with two coats of primer and several coats of Dupont Forest-Green #5204 enamel, which was the closest to the original color.

Finally, I made new gaskets for the carburetor, main bearing caps, and the oiler, put it back together with the rebuilt magneto, and bolted it to the cart. It started after a few pulls of the flywheels. After some minor governor adjustments it sat there and ran the way it used to when my grandfather would start it for us years ago.