Briggs and Stratton FH engine serial numbers

By Staff
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Everett Hayden’s Briggs & Stratton FH engine that he picked up on eBay.

On April 13, 2008, I purchased this Briggs & Stratton FH engine block and a few other assorted parts for sale on eBay.

What’s really interesting about this FH is the very seldom seen old-style slant fin crankcase breather on a round fin block. When I initially looked at the eBay listing, it did not register with me what I was seeing. I had never heard of any FH being fitted like that and did not quite believe it was the “real deal.” Using the best parts I had on hand to replace what I didn’t get, I ended up with what you see.

I made a couple phone calls to find out if I was just the last to know about this variation FH. Charley Camara told me he had seen one other like it at a show back east, 25 years ago, and none since. Another widely known early Briggs & Stratton collector informed me he could find no reference to this variation in any of his original or reprinted literature.

I did quite a bit of digging and found the following in an original FH owners’ manual: This block was sold as a no. 68989 cylinder assembly consisting of, among other things, a no. 67901 cylinder. Reading the manual you would think this was a same ol’ round fin FH without the inclusion of a new- style breather. There was absolutely nothing to suggest that a no. 67901 cylinder has the old-style breather. I suppose everything is open to speculation but I have come to the conclusion that this variation possibly never came from the factory as a complete engine. I suspect the blocks were supplied as a replacement part for a rebuild.

The engine in this article was wearing a pressed steel governor wheel when parted out. Since it was drilled and tapped for the dust cover used with a cast iron flywheel, I used that instead. There is reason to believe it may have been ordered as a different assembly than I listed in this article. That assembly number would have been fitted for the iron flywheel dust cover. I just cannot be certain given what little is really said in the parts list I used. The serial number on the shroud I got with it was no. 40124 and again, I am not at this time convinced there are round fins from the factory with that low a serial number. One well-known collector has a slant fin with a serial number of around 52000 on the brass tag, but who knows – without a lot more input from Briggs & Stratton guys and gals, that number may not hold up as a valid serial number.

Briggs & Stratton engines are becoming notorious for their early records being at odds with the solid evidence. Take the no. 65419 early cast iron crankcase breather for instance. The actual number cast into any of these is number 65461! Check out your own and see. I only noticed that because of researching the engine featured in this article.

Briggs & Stratton says the last brass carburetor FH was number 26436. They go on to say that number 29705 was the last FH to have the old-style cast breather. Now, I have seen enough of the pot metal carb, slant fin FHs with serial numbers above that serial number to be, well, let’s say skeptical of the veracity of the records. It would indicate only 3,269 pot metal slant fin FHs exist. Unless, of course, someone finds a slant fin, pot metal carb FH wearing a new-style breather! Who knows, maybe there is one.

Thousands of Briggs & Stratton engines have been restored or refinished and unfortunately, this was done with whatever parts were on hand. Some of those parts were exact replacement parts identical to what came from the factory. Other engines were repaired with a “close enough” part. Who knew how popular the letter series Briggs & Strattons would become?

A friend of mine would like to compile a list of serial numbers from FH engines that still have the original shroud and serial numbered plate. We would like to find the lowest serial numbered round fin FH anyone has turned up, as well as the highest serial numbered slant fin, pot metal carburetor.

Please send your FH serial number information to Everett Hayden at  8912 N. Rasmussen Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85742 • (520) 797-1445;everetthayden@msn.com

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