15-20 HP Carl Anderson Co. engine gets a tune-up

Big Waldo's 21st century modification

| December/January 2010

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    Curt Holland used some 21st century technology to get this rare 15 to 20 HP Carl Anderson Co. engine running properly.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    Originally the engine was fitted with a hot tube on top of the valve chest. The Waldensians used to make a pine pitch fire around the hot tube. At some point a spark plug and buzz coil were retrofitted to the engine. In the outside face of the valve chest can be seen the original poppet cylinder and valve that moved out on the power stroke. Through the linkage a small pin was inserted into the skip mechanism, allowing the exhaust valve to be opened.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    This is a photo of the fuel mixer. Through the center of the mixer’s top comes the intake valve stem. The governor rod fork pulls down on the stiff intake valve spring, limiting how far the valve can open and thus governing engine speed.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    This shows the reconfiguration of the valve chest. The spark plug has been moved to the side of the valve chest to better ignite the fuel charge. In the old hot tube/spark plug location a priming cup was to aid in starting the engine.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    This shows the encoder that tells the programmable logic controller the piston position and the rotation direction. The small timing pulley on the crankshaft end turns the encoder at half engine speed, just like a cam gear would have.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    This shows the fuel pump and exhaust pushrod being driven off the same eccentric on the crankshaft.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    This close up shows the small electric solenoid extending the pin. The exhaust valve will be opened on the next cycle of the pushrod.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    The control panel housing the programmable logic controller, relays and terminal blocks.
    Photo by Curt Holland
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    Detailed drawings on the second page of Gustaf Joranson’s U.S. Patent 740,571 for the skip mechanism featured on the Carl Anderson Co. gas engine.

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The religious conservative Waldensians trace their roots back to 46 A.D. to the valleys of Northern Italy. Modern-language Bibles owe a debt of gratitude to the Waldensians as they were the first to translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to French. Population growth and persistent persecution led many of the Waldensians to seek a new life in the Americas, and they settled in one area known today as Valdese, N.C. They were phenomenal stonemasons and many of the houses they built as contract laborers can still be seen dotting the Carolinas in a 100-mile radius around Valdese. Duke University, as well as many of the stone bridges through Virginia and into Washington, D.C., illustrate some of their handiwork.

The original Waldensian settlers operated a sawmill, clearing land and producing lumber to build their homes and sell to pay for their land. The old engine they were given to pull the sawmill soon got to be known as “the damned old engine” because it was so difficult to operate.

North Carolina State Senator Jim Jacumin is a third generation descendent of the Waldensians and has worked tirelessly to document the life of the Waldensians in Italy and in Valdese.
Over the last 15 years he led the construction of a beautiful tribute to them in the form of a village that represents the life in Italy and in North Carolina, the Waldensian Trail of Faith in Valdese, N.C. Included in this village is a sawmill belted to the engine operated by the Waldensians.

Looking for help
Last summer I was asked to look at the engine and see if anything could be done to make it work properly. It had to be helped with an electric motor to operate the sawmill for show.
There were no identifying marks on the engine and it looked to be between 15 and 20 HP. There was no cam gear on the engine and it had what appeared to be ported exhaust.



My first impression was that it was some sort of unusual 2-cycle engine. I took several photos and then began the long task of going through all the pages of C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 to try to identify it. Not too far into the book I found a Carl Anderson Co. engine that looked very close. Luckily, I found mention of a patent number, and a search on the number turned up a lot of information about the operating principle of the engine.

The essence of the patent was the exhaust pushrod mechanism and the linkage that accomplished the “skip” feature. Actually, it should be called an “engagement” feature instead of a skip feature as the engine is designed to omit exhaust cycles all the time except when a power stroke occurs.



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