1912 4 HP Monitor

Father, son and nephew connect through old iron


| May 2009


In 1972, my dad traded his 1962 Chevy for a 1912 4 HP Monitor hit-and-miss engine.

The engine was covered in sawdust, so it may have been used to power a buzz saw or other woodworking equipment. He brought it home and put it in the backyard and covered it up, where it sat for 15 years.

In 1985, I was in shop class in high school and they were teaching how automobile coils worked. I twisted Dad’s arm to wire up a coil to the old engine. To our amazement, it took off and ran! Dad and I were very excited to see the old engine run. It ran poorly, so we tried to figure out how to make it run better. Dad knew a guy who could wire up a Model T buzz coil, and with some tinkering, we got the engine running like a clock.

The old engine ran, but it still looked rough – the paint was all worn off and the skids were rotten. We decided to make new skids for it and give it a well-deserved paint job. We painted it red, as we found a little spot of red paint under the grime and figured that was the original color.



We would fire the engine up at family picnics, and everyone sat around and watched it run. Mother called it a "popcorn popper" because of the exhaust noise. We only fired the engine up a few times every summer, and then covered it back up.

Three years ago in 2005, I sent my dad to an estate auction to get me my own hit-and-miss engine, as I had to work that day. After work, I met my dad at the auction, where he was waiting with one of his classic smirks. I knew that he had bought the engine for me – a 5 HP Field-Brundage Type W. We then restored my engine and I started taking it to gas engine shows. Dad came with me to the shows, and found that he really enjoyed going to them and talking to all the people.














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