Barn owl companion
A period photograph of Foster Scott's 7 HP Field-Brundage at work in Missouri, probably in the 1920s.
Company: Field-Brundage Co., Jackson, Mich.
Model: Type W
Flywheel diameter: 38 inches
Flywheel width: 3 inches
Igntion: Hit-and-miss, low-tension magneto and igniter
Additional info: Clutch pulley is 18 inches in diameter
Although I'm relatively new to the gas engine hobby, I developed a keen interest in old engines while dove hunting in the oil fields of west Texas, where I heard the old hit-and-miss engines singing their song while pumping oil. I have since collected several engines, and my wife, MaryAnn, and I are now members of the Southeast Kansas Old Time Gas Engine & Tractor Club, which meets at Pittsburg, Kan. We both enjoy the friendly people and camaraderie.
While talking one day with our friend and neighbor Severin Poirot, Severin told me his father, Severin Poirot St., had a 1920 7 HP Field-Brundage in an old barn. The engine was originally purchased and used by Severin Sr.'s father, the late Eugene Poirot, back in the 1920s or before. I received permission to view the engine on May 12, 2004, and drove over the following day. Upon entering the barn to look at and photograph the engine, we were startled by a pair of barn owls, with two young owls peering down at us. Without the yearly nesting of these barn owls, the old barn would likely have been dozed down, perhaps destroying the old Field-Brundage sitting inside.
The Poirot family is dedicated to conservation, having some 1,000 acres of native prairie grass, as well as a large farming operation. The native prairie grass has enabled them to maintain a small population of greater prairie chickens here in southwest Missouri. Severin's grandfather, Eugene Poirot, authored a conservation column in the Joplin and Springfield, Mo., newspapers back in the 1940s and 1950s. This old Field-Brundage has heard the 'booming' mating call of the prairie chickens in the spring and the hooting of barn owls for many years.
The business side of the engine shows it's missing a few items, most importantly the original igniter and magneto. This engine led a hard-working life before it was retired, a fact borne out by its worn cylinder bore, which measures out to 6.025 inches at the top: It's supposed to have a 6-inch bore.
Looking closely at the engine, we found it was seized up, and both the magneto and igniter were missing. Even so, MaryAnn and I decided to try to buy the engine. I spoke with Severin Sr. about the engine, and he made me a deal I couldn't refuse! Dave Brooks, a good friend and old-engine aficionado, helped me load the engine and bring it home.
We've done a little bit of work since recovering the engine, including freeing and removing the piston. Fellow club members John Lawhorn and Kenny Wilson helped me measure the piston and cylinder bore, and when we removed the head we found the valves to be good to use. The wrist pin will have to be repaired or replaced, and once that's done we plan on trying to start it up.
It sure helped that it was only two miles from my front door and easily loaded with a John Deere tractor and front loader. Who says you have to travel out of state in search of an old engine?
Severin's wife, Nan, was kind enough to furnish the period photograph of the engine. We think the photo dates from the 1920s or 1930s. The nameplate on the engine reads: The Field Type W Manufactured by the Field-Brundage Co., Jackson, Michigan, S/N 9949, 350 rpm. The flywheels measure 38 inches with a 3-inch face. The clutch pulley is 18 inches in diameter.
My thanks to Severin Poirot for the privilege of owning and restoring the Field-Brundage, and to Dave Brooks for his assistance in getting it home. Also to John Lawhorn and Kenny Wilson for their expertise. We plan to have restoration completed this winter for the spring shows.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone with a manual or literature I could get a copy of, and I'm still looking for the appropriate magneto and igniter. We'd also like to hear from anyone who can tell us what year serial no. 9949 dates to, and we'd like to know what color the engine should be painted.
Contact engine enthusiasts Foster and MaryAnn Scott at: 1742 Lawrence 1030, Miller, MO 65707; firstname.lastname@example.org
Built by Field-Brundage Co., Jackson, Mich. Serial no.: 9949, Year manufactured: 1920, Horsepower: 7 at 350 rpm, Bore and stroke: 6-by-9 inches, Ignition: Hit-and-miss, low-tension magneto and igniter, Flywheels: 38 inches in diameter, 3 inches wide, Clutch pulley: 18 inches in diameter, Currently missing