I Needed a Project Engine?

By Staff
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Various pieces of the 2 HP 1907 IHC Famous on initial disassembly and cleaning. The engine was, to be kind, in rough shape.
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Sealing problems forced Paul to resurface the head's ports to stop it from leaking.
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The Luckey (Ohio) Fall Festival Association’s September show
is the last show of the year for me. It’s the last time of the
season to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of old tractors and
engines, and it’s my last shot at getting some of that great
engine show food – there’s nothing else like it.

At the 2001 show I met up with Larry Massey, who drives down
from Michigan almost every year and sets up a display. Larry and I
were doing what engine people do at shows – looking at stuff and
talking a lot – and one of the fellows set up there had a trailer
load of engines for sale. Larry pointed to an IHC Famous at one end
of the trailer and said, ‘That’s what you need, a project
engine.’ It was a project engine all right – it was rough and
most of the parts were in a pair of five-gallon buckets, rusted up

At the time I was half way through a two and a half year
restoration of a Bates and Edmonds, and the thought of taking on
another project that was in even rougher condition than the Bates
didn’t have much appeal, so I didn’t give the IHC another

Four or five months later I was at Larry’s shop and asked
him if he remembered the guy who was selling the engines at Luckey.
As it turned out, the guy had been at Larry’s shop the previous
weekend doing some engine trading, and Larry gave me the
fellow’s name and phone number.

Taking the Plunge

A few weeks later I gave Paul Sheldrick a call, and before long
I was on my way to his place in Ohio to take a better look at the
1907 2 HP Famous. Before I went, however, I came up with a copy of
an owner’s manual that had a parts breakdown of the engine so I
would have some idea of what parts were missing.

Giving the engine a good look over, I was surprised to see that
all the hard-to-find small parts were still with the engine. It
wasn’t without its problems, however, as the cylinder and
cylinder head were cracked and the cylinder would have to be
replaced or resleeved. The only major part missing, other than the
muffler and oiler, was the cam gear. Armed with this information, I
returned home.

Once home I called Ron Huetter in Detroit, Mich. Ron is the
International man in our part of the state, and we talked over the
engine and how best to go about repairing it. The biggest problem,
we agreed, would be finding a cam gear, and while Ron didn’t
know anyone who had one he was sure we could find one, in time.
Based on this I decided to go ahead and buy the Famous, so I went
and picked it up and stuck it in a corner in my shop. I was still
working on the Bates, so I didn’t have any real time to spend
on the Famous. I did, however, start looking for parts, and I
decided not to spend any money repairing the cylinder or crankshaft
until I found a cam gear. I asked an engine buddy who lives nearby
if he would put together a list of people who might have the parts
for my engine, and he came up with two pages of names and phone

The Famous as found (inset) presents a remarkable contrast to
its final, restored condition. Showing serial number KA6975, Paul
Frasier’s Famous dates to 1907, the second year of production
for the Famous line, which lasted until 1917. Although IHC built
vertical engines In 1905, they did not carry the Famous name until

As I started going down the list and calling people, I soon
realized there is no such thing as a quick phone call with engine
guys – there is just too much to talk about. I asked each person I
called if he knew anyone who might have the parts I needed, and
added their name to the list. The phone calls finally led me to
Harold Ottaway in Kansas, who not only had the cam gear I needed
but was an excellent source for information on IHC engines.
Critically, Harold supplied me with a drawing and pictures of the
cooling tank – I have been going to shows for 15 years now and have
never seen an original sized cooling tank for this engine.

The frost damage to the cylinder was clearly visible after
cleaning. This had been repaired before, and the engine was still
being worked in this condition.

During the time it took to find the cam gear, I took a few small
parts to work every week and did whatever it took to free them up.
I was able to save and reuse all the fittings and brass unions in
the fuel lines. The fittings have a round lip on them and they were
original. I did, however, have to make all new fuel lines.

The Restoration Begins

When I finished restoring my Bates I started work on the Famous
in earnest – it was time to spend some money. This engine had sat
out in the weather for a long, long time. All of the steel parts,
like nuts, bolts, valves, springs and shafts, had to be repaired or
replaced. The cast iron parts were in good shape except where they
had been machined, where it showed some serious pitting. I ordered
repair parts from Starbolt, and Bill sold me every spring the
engine uses as well as piston rings and decals. I welded the crack
in the cylinder head, oversized the valve guides, made new valves
and ground the valve seats. Little did I know that even more work
would be needed on the head before I would finally be done.

The cylinder head after initial cleaning. Close inspection shows
a large crack running along the outside of the head at about the 11
o’clock position.

At some point in time the pulley side flywheel came loose and
really did a job on the keyway in the crankshaft. Something had to
be done, as it was not useable as it was. I decided I would try and
make the repairs myself, so I welded up the keyway and then turned
it back to size, and then set it up in my mill and recut the
keyway. It turned out so well I went ahead and repaired the other
keyway and any other damaged or rusted spots on the crankshaft.
Once I finished all that I sent it out to have the rod journal
welded up and reground.

I wasn’t sure where to send the cylinder, but I talked to a
few people at the Portland, Ind., show and they recommended a shop
in Cecil, Ohio. I welded all the freeze cracks and sent it to them
to be resleeved.

I made a new plunger for the fuel pump, cleaned the check valves
and relapped their seats. I cut a large hole in the top of the fuel
tank and sandblasted the inside, soldered up the holes and then
gave it three coats of sealer. I worked the igniter over as well,
giving it a new shaft and springs. The crankshaft gear was rougher
than I first thought, and it wasn’t until I sandblasted it that
I realized how bad it really was. I couldn’t find a new one, so
Larry made one from raw stock. There were many other small parts
made up, and in time everything finally came together.

The keyway on the crankshaft was badly damaged from rust, so
Paul welded It up and then recut the keyway before sending the
crankshaft out for renewal.

The keyway on the crankshaft was badly damaged from rust, so
Paul welded It up and then recut the keyway before sending the
crankshaft out for renewal.

First Fire

When the crank and cylinder came back the repairs looked good.
So good I just couldn’t help myself – I just had to fit
everything and put the block and cylinder together. With new rings
in a new cylinder the engine was tight and hard to turn over. I
added extra oil to the crankcase as I wanted the engine to get all
the lubrication it could get, and with the block and cylinder
together I cranked it over every chance I had, hoping to run in the
rings and make it turn over a little easier. In time it did loosen
up a little, or my arm was getting stronger; I’m not sure

The first start-up was quite exciting. I cranked it up, it fired
about three times, and then exhaust smoke came pouring out all the
water outlets in the head and cylinder and it stalled – that’s
not a good thing. I tried to restart it, even though I knew it
wouldn’t. In the end the cylinder head had to come back off a
couple more times so I could repair gasket leaks at the cylinder
head and igniter. With the gasket leaks finally fixed the engine
ran well. I ran it all summer, and the only thing I had to mess
with was the ignition timing. And remember all that extra oil I
gave it? It’s all over the shop floor.

Rust damage to some of the steel parts on the engine was quite
severe. This shows the crankshaft gear off the Famous, which looked
okay until Paul cleaned it. Paul replaced this with a new gear.

Happy and satisfied everything was working, I sent the cooling
tank drawing I got from Harold to John Wanat in Connecticut so John
could make one up for me. This is a very large tank, mind you,
about 42 gallons. I made engine skids and a battery box, and then I
gave Don Obenholtzer of Ohio a call and ordered wheels and hardware
for the cart – this thing is too heavy to drag around. When summer
was over everything came back apart for a good cleaning and a final
painting. By spring of 2002 it was all back together and ready for
the show season.

So what’s my next project? I think I’ll start cleaning
the mess in the garage.

Contact engine enthusiast Paul Frasier at: 12234 Harris,
Carleton, Ml 48117.

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