HELPING HANDS


| November/December 1996



Alpha De Laval W 1 HP

Sitting in my 'summer' workshop.

PO. Box 238, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin 54210

In May of 1995 I joined a group of men from our church in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, who were going to lend a helping hand to some of the older members of the congregation by raking their yards. Imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner of the house where we were working and spotted the familiar outline of a water hopper and two solid flywheels protruding from the accumulated dirt and leaves. My heart rate, which was already elevated from the raking, jumped another few r.p.m.! Brushing away some of the trash revealed a nameplate that said Alpha De Laval W 1 HP.

I asked Mark Weborg, a local commercial fisherman who was in charge of the working party, if he thought the owner would be interested in selling it. He said that he would check when she came home from Florida, but he was pretty sure she would give it to me. Sure enough, less than two weeks later, Mark and two of his fishing crew drove up to my summer place, a mobile home in a nearby trailer court, with the engine. He said that he didn't know what I wanted it for and that it wouldn't even make a good boat anchor. I replied that I was going to make it run again. I think they were still laughing as they drove away.

Looking back, I think that was a pretty bold statement I had made. The engine had been sitting outside with the spark plug removed and the piston near BDC for 25 years or so. Naturally the spark plug hole was on top of the head providing easy access for the rain. The connecting rod was disconnected and protruded from the cylinder at an odd angle. Fortunately, the rod cap was found in the water hopper. Not one single part was free.

Having only my hand tools and a few supplies for tuning up lawnmowers limited my choices. A quick survey of my 8x10 storage shed revealed a can of charcoal lighter which I immediately appropriated for use as penetrating oil. A little soaking, a few gentle taps, and success, the crank handle was loose. Well, I had to start somewhere! A few more hours with Liquid Wrench and my trusty ball peen and every part except the piston and the exhaust valve was free. Even the old cotter pins were removed intact. As expected, the cylinder was badly pitted.

Removing the piston was a major chore. Success was achieved by tipping the engine up on end, filling the water hopper with well-lit charcoal briquettes, pouring a couple of inches of diesel fuel in on top of the piston and setting it (diesel fuel) on fire. After about two hours, and with the help of a hardwood block, a big sledge and a friend, the piston was grudgingly freed from its rusty prison. Amazingly, after a week of soaking, the rings were removed intact.