A Ruston & Hornsby Teaches The Three R's

| November/December 1996

130 Malcolm Dr., Pasadena, CA 91105

We continue this story from last month's GEM. If you recall, when we last left our author, he had completed his Research into his engine find, and parts Removal. The engine was now fully disassembled, and we're ready to hear about the third R, Restoration.


It is best to start with the block since all the other pieces mount on it. Other than that, it doesn't really make much difference what order the other pieces are restored in. The engine was initially at my brother's house, but it became clear that I needed it where I live. I have limited space and not a big work shop for this size a project. To further complicate matters, I live in a city where overnight parking on the street is not allowed. Also 1 have a short driveway not long enough for parking vehicles. That meant that the garage had to be used for the vehicles and not this project. And furthermore, I live on a hillside and there are stairs and ramps to the back yard area. I do have a small concrete area in the rear where I took the block. I had also brought over the 'cherry picker' because the bare block weighs 155 pounds. To get the block up to a good working height, I used a portable table known as a Workmate made by Black and Decker. This is a very handy piece of equipment around a restoration project because not only is it a work surface, it is also a vise and clamp.

Before really getting serious about the restoration, I washed all the parts with solvent, dried them and stored them in boxes. I will now describe the restoration by major units.


Since the block was too large and heavy for my solvent tank, I put it on the ground and washed it off using various cleaners such as 409 and a variety of scrapers and wire brushes. This was really a preliminary cleaning so that the extent of the restoration could be evaluated. It is interesting to note that the inside of the crankcase was painted an off white. I am really impressed with the design and ruggedness of the engine. It is a very stout engine. With the initial cleaning complete, it was time to really inspect the block for problem areas. See Photo 2 of the block sitting on a utility cart.

The really big area of concern was the cylinder. The water and rust had really done a number on the cylinder wall and left large pits too deep to hone out. I had two choices. One was to bore and sleeve it and the other was to try and fill the pits. I chose the latter. I own a Fairbanks-Morse 3 horsepower engine; prior to my owning it, the piston wrist pin had come loose and scored the cylinder walls. I successfully repaired that with J-B Weld slow set epoxy. So I decided to try epoxy to fill the pits. The secret for using epoxies is to have very clean surfaces down to base material, in this case cast iron. I used a flexible rotary shaft grinding tool with carbide burrs of various sizes and shapes. Be sure to use full eye protection. I was using safety glasses but a particle came in from the side and lodged on the eyeball. A trip to the eye doctor was necessary to have the particle removed. I now use safety glasses with side shields and full goggles. Every rust pit was enlarged and ground down to base metal. The inside of the cylinder looked like Swiss cheese. But this is what I wanted to do to provide lots of surface area for the epoxy.