Gearing Up for 2017

By Staff

I know it’s early for New Year’s resolutions, but this being the December/January issue, it seems appropriate to set out some goals for the new year.

Chief among them is to finally start working on the 1921 1-1/2 hp IHC Model M I picked up some years ago. I’ve had plenty of excuses for not getting around to it. Regular work limits play time, as does real life, what with kids in school, leaky roofs to replace and old cars to keep on the road.

Yet much as I like to procrastinate, I’m running out of excuses: The kids are out of school, with daughter Madeline graduated from college and son Charlie from woodworking school; the roof’s been replaced; and while the old cars continue to play up, they’re running OK. There are always other projects, but it’s time to get the IHC – and the 1920 5 hp Piersen sitting next to it – running.

Both engines are fairly complete, the Piersen in particular. Still wearing its original paint, I plan on leaving it as is cosmetically. Mechanically, I think it only needs a partial tear-down and inspection. It hasn’t been run in probably 15-20 years, so the seals for its odd combined flywheel/radiator are probably suspect. The single rocker arm that opens both the intake and exhaust valve was welded up long ago after breaking, and while it looks OK, I want to look into replacing it, likely by modifying something from another engine, as Piersen parts are thin on the ground. I think the crankshaft and big and little end connecting rod bearings are fine, but I need to find out why the magneto isn’t hot.

The IHC will take a little more work. Like the Piersen, it’s still in its work clothes, but in this case they’re pretty threadbare. A kerosene-soaked rag just barely brings up traces of the original lettering on the hopper on one side, but otherwise the paint is pretty much gone, only a few areas showing traces of the original IHC green.

I like original over restored, so I’d like to leave the IHC alone, but I’m resigned to the fact I will probably have to paint it. Mechanically, I’m not sure what’s in store. A farm auction find, the IHC has no history. The gas/kerosene mixer is missing parts and I’m pretty certain the mag is dead. On the plus side, the crankshaft and connecting rod bearings appear good and the cylinder has compression. Unlike the Piersen, I expect to strip the IHC down to its base.

Of course, there’s one other project I have to start first before launching into the Piersen and IHC; renewing my latest find, a nice 1947 Southbend 9-inch Model B lathe with a 4-1/2-foot bed. It was hiding in a corner in good friend Walt Hull’s blacksmith shop, and when Walt discovered I was looking for a lathe, he decided to pass it along to me. I think I’d better get started if I’m not going to blow my New Year’s resolutions before the new year even starts!  

Richard Backus Editor-in-Chief

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