In August 2007, I spotted an auction approximately three hours from my home in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. On the sale bill a 1-1/2 HP John Deere, 1-1/2 HP Witte and 3 HP Stover were listed. Due to lack of space and equipment to handle larger engines, I was very interested in the Witte engine, as they are not very common in my area. I decided to attend the sale and see if I could bring the engine home with me.
Eye on the Stover
When I arrived at the auction I quickly found the engines to check them over. The Witte was a headless engine and was very dirty but complete. I was not that interested in the John Deere as I already had one.
The 3 HP Stover KB was tagged with a T. Eaton tag, and was torn apart with some parts in the water hopper, some in a box and some others scattered about on the trailer. But it looked to me that all the important parts were there. I don’t know what it was about the Stover, but it had me very intrigued.
When the auctioneer made it around to the engines, he started on the Witte and it quickly surpassed what I was prepared to pay for it. I guess Witte engines not being that common in this area really drove up the price. I quickly came to the conclusion that I was probably not going to have to worry about loading up any engines after watching the Witte sell.
I had a value in my head that I was comfortable with for the Stover, and stood near the back of the crowd because I thought it was easily going to surpass my maximum bid limit. The bidding was very slow on the engine, and soon I was in on the action. The engine was quickly approaching my maximum bid but never surpassed it and I won. I could hardly believe that I won with a bid that matched what I was prepared to spend.
Now, a 3 HP Stover KB weighs approximately 500 pounds and I had to figure out how to load the engine with no front end loader available. Luckily it was on a trailer so I did not have to worry about getting it up to the back of my truck; the gentleman who bought the Witte pulled his truck up to load his engine and I quickly made a deal to help load his engine if he would help me. The engine was not that difficult to load as the crank and flywheels were just set on the engine. Once we lifted them off, the engine was very manageable and was quickly loaded.
Assessing the prize
Once home I unloaded the engine and inventoried all the parts. I found I was only missing the springs for the Webster magneto and the three grease cups. The engine was in very good condition but very rusty.
C.H. Wendel’s Power of the Past, Vol. 3 dates the engine as 1924, and states that 2,744 Type KB engines were produced. I was also told by Stover shipping record custodian Joe Maurer that Stover shipped this engine to the T. Eaton Company in Winnipeg on July 25, 1925.
It was not until the next year that I got to work on restoring the engine. It was going to be very straightforward as the head had been cracked but already had an excellent repair to it. All that I needed to do was clean the parts, and though it may not be the preferred way to finish an engine, I decided to repaint it.
Cleaning was done with an angle grinder fitted with a wire-knotted brush for the larger pieces and with picks and hand wire brushing for cleaning the smaller pieces as well as any nooks and crannies. Anybody who has cleaned an engine this way will have an understanding of the time it takes as well as how dirty a person gets.
Once the cleaning was done it was a matter of getting the parts prepped, painted and ready for assembly. The other part that needed to be dealt with was the Webster magneto. I am fortunate that my dad is very good with mags, and he cleaned and reconditioned this mag/igniter for me. In my opinion, he did an excellent job.
Assembly went very smoothly, and other than the freeze crack that was already repaired, the engine had no other damage and had virtually no wear. In fact, I don’t think the engine had been used very much in its past. The only parts not original to the engine are the Webster springs, grease cups, new piston rings as well as the fuel piping. I also tried my hand at producing my own engine decals, which turned out well.
Once assembled, the engine fired on the second flip of the flywheels, and after some fine tuning it is now a very nice running engine.
Contact Will Batty at Box 142, Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, Canada SOJ-2MO • firstname.lastname@example.org.