Rehabbing a 1926 Model FH Briggs & Stratton

A bundle of surprises


| June 2009



briggs3

The nameplate on the engine, clearly showing a serial number of 1316, which makes it an early 1926 FH. 

Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton Corp., Milwaukee, WI
Year: 1926
Horsepower: 1/2
Serial number: 1316
Bore: 2-1/4-inch
Stroke: 2-1/4-inch

This is my 1926 Model FH Briggs & Stratton. It has a serial number of 1316, which means by serial number charts this engine was built sometime in March 1926.

The Model FH Briggs engine line was manufactured from 1925-1933. The engines had a 2-1/4-inch bore and stroke, and were rated by the factory at 1/2 HP at 1,800 RPM.

Worth the bid
This particular FH was found browsing eBay one evening. While I already had a 1930 FH, I decided it would be nice to have an earlier model with the obvious earlier engine features. I think these early engines look better than later models so I bid on the engine and won. I knew it was a unique and earlier model FH by its features and the factory-optional 1-gallon gas tank/engine base, but little did I know what it really was until the day the engine was delivered.

Then, I discovered the engine was one of the early-type low production 4-digit serial number models equipped with the very early version non-adjustable Type P FH model carburetor. This carburetor is said to be a carryover from the Model FE Briggs line that was only produced for one year in 1925 – the same year that began the production run for the FH engine line. Needless to say, I was thrilled because I’ve always wanted an earlier Briggs engine and this was finally the moment where I could say, “now I have one.”

The initial assessment
The engine was in usual shape for its age. It wasn’t too rough but it didn’t run and had seen better days. The governor spring clip was missing, the original starter cup was gone (I later made one from a Model B Briggs starter cup), and the original bronze governor spring was stretched almost beyond recognition. The throttle shaft also had 1/16-inch of wear in between the carburetor body and throttle shaft, and the ignition flywheel – made out of zinc alloy (also known as “pot metal”) – was so dried out it was buckled in and practically crumbled to the touch (I later replaced the flywheel with one from a 1930 FH). I also found that the gas tank was 3/8 full of dried gasoline, which was now a thick, cruddy coat of varnish-like substance, and there was also a 1/2 inch of old, black, greasy sludge in the oil pan. All of these things were signs of an engine that obviously hadn’t run in a number of years.

Running into surprises
As I began the restoration, I decided I just wanted to rebuild the engine and preserve what was left of the silver paint common to these early FH models. Like the carburetor, the silver paint was a carryover from the Model FE line and later FH models were simply painted black. To preserve the finish on my engine, I simply applied a coat of boiled linseed oil and a thin coat of motor oil on top of that.