SmokStak

By Staff
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The following comes from a recent topic on Smok Stak, which can
be found on the Internet at: www.engineads.com/ smokstak.cgi. As
ever, various individuals started, commented on and concluded the
following bulletin board thread.

I talked to an engine buddy the other day at work about his
‘original’ engine. The more he talked, the more unoriginal
his engine sounded. The only original parts on the engine were the
block, head, flywheels and timing gears. He made a new piston,
connecting rod, valves, etc. This got me to thinking, just where do
we draw the line on what’s considered original?

If you have to replace piston rings, for instance, or rebabbitt
the main bearings, can the engine still be considered original?

I have a 4 HP Witte headless that I recently picked up. Over the
winter, I have to bore out the valve guides and put in valve
guides. The valves are fine, but the bores are worn. If I were to
sell it in the future, will it still be considered ‘all
original?’ – Paul

 ‘Original’ is as-shipped from the factory and
unaltered. ‘Restored’ means replacement of any worn parts
or coatings, using closely matched parts or material similar to
what the manufacturer used. ‘Engine repaired and running’
means available parts were used to make the flywheels move.

I agree we need a standard to identify an engine’s
condition. In your case, I don’t think ‘original’
applies. – Pat

 I think it’s funny, sad and dishonest when an ad for
an engine says it’s in ‘original’ condition. In
reality, the engine may have a cracked head and a patched cylinder,
the flywheels may wobble a little bit and it may have a different
magneto.

There are very few ‘original’ engines out there. An
‘original’ engine should be intact and as it left the
factory, with little or no mechanical wear and having a majority of
its original paint.

I call my engines ‘barn fresh’ and have pondered many
times if I should restore them. Sure, it’s great to look at a
nice, shiny engine that someone else has restored to better than
original. But to me a barn-fresh original has more value than a
restored engine. – Gary

 Does anybody know of any shows that award prize ribbons
for engines? Around here they judge tractors and award different
types of ribbons/trophies, and they do a slow running contest for
engines. However, I’m not sure if the winners actually receive
anything. – Sonny

 I have heard of trophies and ribbons awarded for engines,
but I’ve never participated in a show where that happened.
Twenty years ago, I was at a show that supposedly did this, but my
trailer was loaded and I was gone before it started. Many shows –
our show included – give a ribbon to each exhibitor or member who
registers at the office. It’s not given as a prize, but as a
thank you from us for coming and a means to identify who is
exhibiting in the crowd.

At our show – and most shows – a ribbon shows you are a
participant in the show, and you get one whether you have a Maytag
or a Springfield. Competing isn’t part of it. Any show that
wants to encourage competition amongst exhibitors is looking for
trouble.

The neat and super-rare engines always attract a crowd and are a
very important part of any show, but common engines have huge
appeal because they’re what most collectors are willing or able
to own. Even the guy with the nicest stuff probably owned an
Economy or an M when he was starting out. – Joe

‘Original’ can be used as a noun – ‘this is the
original.’ Or it can be used as an adjective -‘this is the
original part.’ When describing something, look at how the word
is used and then ask questions. Original could mean ‘as it left
the factory,’ or ‘as it appears today,’ unaltered in
parts replacement and as it left the factory. ‘Original’
could mean restored, with all factory-original and correct parts.
Again, ‘restored’ covers a lot of ground. Let the buyer
beware – and ask questions. – Pat

  If an engine was repaired with original (NOS) factory
replacement parts, then that engine has been restored to
‘original’ condition. No machine work or welding on cast
parts or accessories. The rest seems like a bunch of knit-picking
to me. The companies did make factory replacement parts. –
Chuck

 Even if it has original paint, how would I know if some
farmer didn’t change the cylinder sleeve in my 1919 IHC M back
in 1927, 1932 or 1948? If it was repaired with original replacement
parts, and there’s no alterations to the original design, I
would say it’s in original condition. Unless my dad and
grandfather were the only owners, and I happened to ask them what
repairs were made, how would anyone be able to tell the
difference?

My dad mainly cared whether the thing worked or not as he was
never a collector. – Chuck

 Remember, our engines were used by people with limited
finances, and they were sold as labor-saving devices. Most of our
engines are 75 years old or older. When better times came, or when
people got electricity into their houses, they forgot about their
old engines. Some went to the scrap drives in World War II, while
others were left outside to rust away. Some people valued their old
engines and preserved them for future generations.

But now many people are getting into our hobby, and I for one
think that’s great. The problem is that this new generation of
collectors wants to find and buy only mint-condition engines. They
think it’s like the car hobby, and everything must be
perfect.

To me, ‘original’ is an engine that has all the parts
that came with it from the factory. Sure, it’s neat to find an
engine with original paint and decals on it, but sadly that’s
not always the case. If you find an engine with the oiler, muffler,
crank guard and starting crank, consider yourself very lucky. A
cart or factory cart is an added bonus. Almost all original engines
had a mishap somewhere along their long history, such as a broken
rocker arm brazed together or a head brazed or welded.

I don’t think that takes away from the idea of originality,
but then again I really don’t care what the
‘I-have-only-perfect-engines-in-my-collection’ people
think. I enjoy running, rebuilding and restoring my
less-than-perfect engines. – Chuck

Wow! Did I open Pandora’s box or what? Here’s my simple
take on matters: If it has all original parts, be it factory
replacements or well-made duplicates, I would refer to the engine
as ‘original.’ As a machinist who does a lot of repair work
and small production runs, I know how substitutes and alterations
can occur at a factory. So where do we draw the line?

I’m sure that when these engines were built there were a lot
of alterations and modifications to the blueprint. So, if it came
off the assembly line like that, fresh out of the factory, it’s
not original. I guarantee if you went to any factory now and
randomly picked out a product, you’d find at least one
difference from the ‘model.’

Thanks for all the responses, it’s always interesting to see
all the differing views about our hobby. – Paul

Smok Stak is an engine conversation bulletin board with over
50,000 messages on file and is part of the Old Engine series of Web
sites that started in 1995 as ‘Harry’s Old Engine.’
Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine
collector from Oswego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla.

I call my engines ‘barn fresh’ and have pondered \ many
times if I should restore them. Sure, it’s great I to look at a
nice, shiny engine that someone else has restored to better than
original. But to me a barn-fresh original has more value than a
restored engine.” Gary

”Original’ can be used as a noun ‘this is the
original.’ Or it can be used as an adjective ‘this is the
original part.’ When describing something, look at how the word
is used and then ask questions. Original could mean ‘as it left
the factory,’ or ‘as it appears today,’ unaltered in
parts replacement and as it left the factory. ‘Original’
could mean restored, with all factory-original and correct
parts.’ Pat

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