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A Briggs & Stratton Engine Still at Work

Scott Irey's circa-1950 Briggs and Stratton Model N belted to a small pump.

This past March 24, 2019, after heavy snow and record cold in Minnesota, it finally started to warm up. With all this snow melt came flooding. My son Scott had 5-6 inches of water standing in his backyard, and it was threatening to flood his basement! Some 20 years ago he bought a small Briggs & Stratton Model N gas engine (circa 1950?) from a neighbor. It had a very old spark plug, possibly the original. The engine did not have a recoil start, but a loose rope to pull to start it and was equipped with a brass pump with 3/4-inch garden hose connectors. When Scott bought the engine he took it home, cleaned it up and got it to run. He called me and told me of his find. It cost the princely sum of $5.

The engine seen from the pump end.

The other side of the engine showing the rope start setup.

Fifteen years later he got it down from the shelf, put new fuel in it, pulled the rope twice and it started. He then put it out in his flooded yard, hooked up hoses to it and put it to work. The engine was mounted on a piece of oak 1 inch thick and 18 inches long. The engine and pump ran for six hours the first day without any trouble and five hours the second day, then it stopped. Investigation showed a piece of carbon had gotten under one of the valves. This was cleared out and the engine ran again. In all it ran for several days, clearing the flooded yard. Who says old engines are not usable today? The brass pump has no nameplate, but has “VE1000V5” cast into the housing. It has been said to me more than once when I was displaying engines, “What good is an old engine anyway?” Well, I think this answers that question! As a footnote, the engine used very little fuel.

Casting numbers on the pump.

Dave Irey
6348 Mildred Ave.
Edina, MN
(952) 943-8357

Please send your questoins and comments to Flywheel Forum to Gas engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd ST., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

Daughters and the Safety Vapor Engine


A blast from the past: This great photo from Fred Hickerson ran in the March/April 1974 issue of GEM. Does anyone know where Anne and Kathy are today? Or Fred and the Safety Vapor Engine? – Editor

My three beauties, daughters Anne, left, and Kathy, right, gracing my Safety Vapor Engine, serial number 141, the prize of my collection. Note the flyball governor on the fuel inlet (top left) and the chain driven sprocket on the side of the cylinder which rotates a disc type valve arrangement for the fuel inlet and exhaust outlet. A timing gear to the right of the sprocket drives a shaft which trips a “make and break” ignition system.

Courtesy of Fred Hickerson
Box 602, R.D. 6, Newton, NJ 07860

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

Louis Runkles' George B. Miller Engine

The George B. Miller looks every bit like a Waterloo engine, which is no surprise given George B. Miller's connection to Waterloo Gas Engine Co.

To tell the story of this engine, I have to first explain that my son-in-law and I have been going to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for the past seven years for the gas engine show.

We would listen to the engines run and talk to the owners about how they found them, what to look for, and the big thing – how much they cost. There are a lot of engines out there, all sizes and shapes. This is something that amazed me, as we were looking at engines made at the turn of the century.

"D46" is cast into the connecting rod, indicating a 7hp engine.

Each manufacturer had their own design, with different castings, ignitions, flywheels and so on. Last year, I saw an engine at a show. We talked to the owner and found out it was in good condition. It had been restored about 10 years ago. There was no name tag or identification on it to show who manufactured it. I’m sure the cart wasn’t original, but it worked fine to move it around. The owner thought it must be a 4hp engine.

Unlike a Waterloo, the Miller's rocker arm sits at an angle.

I decided to purchase it, and I took it home and did a little research to find out who manufactured it. I went through a lot of magazines looking for pictures that resembled it or looked just like it. Most people I spoke with thought it was a Waterloo engine. Waterloo made a lot of engines for a lot of different companies, but this engine didn’t match up to any of the Waterloo engine pictures I found. As I researched more, I found a lot of differences on my engine that the Waterloo engines didn’t have.

The water hopper is through-bolted to the engine.

In talking to some engine owners, they said to contact Waterloo engine enthusiast Jimmy Priestley and tell him what I have to see if he could help me figure out who manufactured it. I contacted Jimmy and
described the differences my engine had compared to other Waterloo engines and Jimmy said he would do a little research and get back to me. In the meantime I cleaned and degreased the engine, sanded a few spots, put new bolts in the water tank and primed it. There were other colors under the red paint, but I couldn’t tell what they were; it was just dark. I painted the frame and wheels with several coats of primer, but waited to paint the engine.

Note the raised ridge on the end of the cylinder.

Jimmy called back and said that based on his research and what I had told him, he thought the engine might be a George B. Miller. He said the paint should be dark green, like Brewster Green, similar to DuPont 24166.

Jimmy said the differences between George’s engine and a Waterloo were the rocker arm, the igniter, the water tank, the carburetor, the piston cylinder and the muffler. The rocker arm was at an angle instead of straight across, the igniter was diamond shaped instead of round, the water tank was bolted on with four long bolts, the carburetor was on the bottom instead of straight across, the piston cylinder had a round ridge on the edge where the other ones didn’t, and the muffler was on the side instead of the bottom.

Close-up of the Miller's igniter and rocker arm.

George B. Miller was one of the founders of Waterloo Gas Engine Co., which was sold to Deere & Co. in 1918. But after several years of retirement, Miller went back into the engine business, making his own engines based on the original Waterloo. The
differences were enough that they didn’t infringe on the Deere engine. Miller’s new engines were called Faultless and were built up to perhaps 1926.

The connecting rod has a casting number on it (D46) indicating it was a 7hp engine. It turned out to be a beautiful 7hp George B. Miller engine. To make a long story short, there is more information on the engines today than when people were restoring them 10 years ago.

Thanks to my son-in-law, Tim Urban, who painted it with dark green automotive paint, and Linda Hippi of St. Peter, Missouri, who painted the logo and did the pinstriping. And thanks to all the people along the way for making this an enjoyable journey and a chance to give an engine a name and bring it back to life.

Louis Runkles

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

Fun Facts: John Deere E Trivia

The John Deere Model E serial number list is contained in five "ledger" books. Starting from the left is engines from August 1929 to May 1941. Second, December 1934 to November 1835. Third, October 1920 to March 1926. (This ledger is 5 inches thick). Fourth is December 1941 to May 1946. Fifth, April 1928 to August 1929.

The history of JD Model E engines is contained in five books starting with the Waterloo H. First entry being serial number 160001, 2hp. Mag number 324854, type 70, Wizard. Also indicated is “new governor,” Winfer mixer, no sub base, copper fuel line, tank with Hartman straps to skids. Shipped 12-31-1920 to JDO Co., St. Louis. After listing several type H engines the list goes to Waterloo type K with the first entry being serial number 213565, 2hp, Waterloo mag number 321339, type 70, maker Wizard, shipped 10-1-1920 to Otto Olson, Valders, Wisconsin. And finally the type E with serial number 300001, with no shipping date, city or destination.

In serial numbers 300001 to 300007 no information is recorded, so maybe they were retained by John Deere at Waterloo. By serial number 300007, 1-1/2hp, mag number R 1003 (Iowa Dairy) was shipped May 16, 1922, to Construction Machine Co. Following this, serial number engines were listed sequentially with the basic information as follows: Six columns across the top of ledger with the first being engine number, followed by HP, magneto number, equipment (special features and changes in construction), date shipped and shipped to. Under equipment, there are very few entries.

Also interesting in these early E engines are mags listed as Iowa Dairy, JR30, Splitdorf, Wizard and Webster with all the later engines being Iowa Dairy mags.

Some engines were listed at consignment, an example being engine number 250792, 1-1/2 E, Dec. 23, 1925, to Newbouer Bros., Hartford City, Indiana.

Jim White

A special thanks to Julius Arrington of the John Deere archives for his support and assistance. Jim White is a retired science department chairman, and may be reached at 7821 Dewberry Lane, Cedar Hill, MO 63016, or via email at

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

More ACME/S.M. Jones Engine Information

A factory photograph of a 10hp ACME equipped with a "Scholl" pattern clutch and gear reduction

I read with much interest the article on the ACME/S.M. Jones gas engines. There are several of these engines running. These are 10hp geared units and are used to pump wells, generally two wells at a time.

Photo 1: Valve location. The red tag is on the unusual third valve

These 10hp engines are 601 cubic inches in displacement. I have made head gaskets and have measured the cylinder diameter and length of the stroke. These engines are very durable, as some that we operate are close to 100 years old. They will run in either direction on account of the unusual valve setup. However, if they are run backwards, they tend to loosen the bolts that hold the clutch shaft to the flywheel and can break off these bolts.

Photo 2: Rear view of engine, cylinder, crankshaft and bull gear

I took several pictures of a very dirty engine, now out of service. Photo 1 shows the valve location. The red tag is on the unusual third valve. The stem is inside the round projection. Photo 2 shows a rear view of the engine, the cylinder, the crankshaft and the massive bull gear. Photo 3 shows the “Scholl” pattern clutch. The inside hand-wheel is tightened while the outside wheel is held steady. Photo 4 shows the disc crank and wrist pin.

An ACME is a rather slow running engine, and with the gear reduction, the final disc crank turns about 14-16rpm. The rods fastened to the wrist pin are connected to a well, one on each side. As a result, these units were located in a direct line between wells where possible. I ran this engine as a young man. I was about 14 or 15 years old at the time, and the engine was old back then. There is no brass tag on this engine, only a three-digit number stamped on a raised boss on top of the bedplate, just behind the cylinder oiler. The owner’s manual says the weight of a 10hp geared unit is 4,500 pounds.

If anyone has a similar unit and needs help or information, feel free to contact me. And please overlook the typing errors. At 84 years old, I ain’t quite what I used to be …

Best regards,
Harold R. Keller
9322 State Route 13 SE
Glouster, OH 45732
(740) 347-4706

Harold, at 84, you sound sharper than most at 50. And any typing errors you made, you corrected with pencil and pen before mailing it out. This is one of the more intriguing letters we’ve received in years. To learn there are yet a few ACME engines running (and perhaps even still pumping?) is incredible. We sent you a letter hoping to learn more, Harold, and we’re hoping to share more of your ACME engines with GEM readers.

Photo 3: The "Scholl" pattern clutch

Readers: Harold’s letter inspired us to launch a new award for the best engine story we receive in an issue. For sending his letter, Harold gets to pick any single book he wants from the Gas Engine Magazine Bookshelf or a Gas Engine Magazine T-shirt. Moving forward, if we pick your letter, you’ll get the same offer. Mail or email them to my attention at the address at the bottom of this page. And thanks again, Harold, we’re looking forward to learning more.

Photo 4: The disc crank and wrist pin

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

Restoring a 5hp Fairbanks-Morse Z


1938 Fairbanks-Morse 5hp Z Style B

Manufacturer: Fairbanks, Morse & Co., Beloit, WI
Year: 1938
Serial No.: 807471
Horsepower: 5hp @ 600rpm
Bore & stroke: 4-3/4in x 6in
Flywheels: 21-1/16in x 2-3/8in
Ignition: Spark plug with Fairbanks-Morse RV 1 high-tension magneto
Fuel: Gasoline
Governing: Throttle
Cooling: Hopper


I would like to share this restoration of a 1938 5hp Fairbanks-Morse Z Style B engine. The engine was originally purchased from Mark Wiggins in Oregon and restored by Bill Fisch of Cottonwood, California, and Richard Jackson of Shingletown, California. The whole project excluding the truck took approximately six weeks. It was a fantastic day when we fired up this beautiful engine.


Restoring this engine was a new experience for me. I have mechanical abilities, but I’d never taken a Fairbanks down to the last cotter pin. I owe a lot to Mark and Bill, and to Gas Engine Magazine for photos, information and referrals.


Richard Jackson
Shingletown, California

Thanks for sharing, Richard. The last photo shows what you started with. Nice job! – Editor

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

Around the Corner: 1926 6hp McCormick-Deering Type M

They're still out there: 1926 6hp McCormick-Deering Type M sees light for the first time in years after being found in an abandoned building.

The engine as it looks now. (Photos courtesy of Robert Meyers).

Manufacturer: International Harvester Co., Chicago, IL
Year: 1926
Serial No.: CW4501
Horsepower: 6hp @ 550rpm
Bore & stroke: 4-3/4in x 8in
Flywheel: 23in x 3in
Ignition: Spark plug w/Wico EK high-tension magneto
Fuel: Kerosene/gasoline
Governing: Volume
Cooling: Hopper

I must say that I work for the greatest men in the world! As a part of my job, I often do demolition. Recently, I did a demo job in Michigan and there were several buildings on this project, including a collapsing boathouse. As usual, I always search for good things left behind. And as fate would have it, around the corner under the steps in this boathouse sat a 1926 McCormick-Deering engine. My boss, being generous and knowing my affinity for International Harvester, gave it to me. This will be my barn find story of the year.

The M's hiding place, under a set of stairs in an abandoned building.

Amazingly, it looked complete and in fairly good condition. I assumed after sitting so long it would be stuck, but it wasn’t. What a plus! That evening I knocked down a wall, hooked a chain onto it, and pulled the engine out into the sunlight after a long nap. Among the rubble of the dilapidated building was the original muffler, the crank handle, and two belt pulleys.

They're still out there: 1926 6hp McCormick-Deering Type M sees light for the first time in years after being found in an abandoned building.

The next step was to take the pressure washer to it, and then I oiled it down. Wow, what a transformation! After looking the 6hp over, the decision was made to leave it in its original condition. For good measure, I decided to go through the engine to make sure it would run well. The repairs made included honing the cylinder, lapping the valves, replacing the fuel tank, rebuilding the mixer and the magneto, and cleaning and lubricating the governor and valve linkage.

Original paint on the crankshaft bearing caps suggests the engine is still on its original shims, and the cylinder bore was in very good shape.

Two things we found in the refreshing process was the cylinder had very little ridge and minimal wear. Secondly, the shims on the crankshaft still have paint on them, which leads me to conclude that none have ever been removed. After careful assessment, the only logical conclusion is that this McCormick has seen very little use. The McCormick-Deering Type M engine was prolific and the one I found is by no means rare, but you will be hard pressed to find one in this nice of condition with such little use.

I must give special thanks for my friend Jerry LeCount for all his knowledge and help. Thanks, Jerry! If you’re interested, there’s a video of the first time we started the engine on YouTube at the Plowed Under Productions channel. What’s to be learned from this story is this: When you peak around the corner, you never know what you’ll find.

Robert Meyers
Nappanee, Indiana

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email


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