First Time Restoration

Plucked from the Woods, a 1 HP IHC Famous Transforms from a Junker to a Jewel

| May/June 2003

Back in the summer of 2001 an old friend phoned to chat, and in the course of conversation he told me about a neighbor with an Allis-Chalmers G tractor rotting away in the woods behind his home. A couple of months later he phoned again and told me the neighbor had passed away and the neighbor's son wanted to sell off everything on the property. My friend bought the tractor for $50, but we decided to wait for the first killing frost to cut back the overgrowth so we could see what else was there.

After some time passed my friend phoned to see if I'd like to help find any implements that might be scattered back through the woods. Searching back about 1,000 feet in the woods, I spotted a pair of flywheels. There were roots growing over and through an engine, and it was partially covered with leaves and debris. I offered $50 for an arc welder the son was selling, and I asked him to throw in the engine. He insisted on $60 for the welder and wanted $5 for the engine. I agreed, and my friend and I took a front-end loader back into the woods, cutting a trail as we went, and picked up the engine. We drove it out and loaded it on my pickup truck, but I had no idea what kind of engine I had.

Jim's 1 HP Famous after restoration. Based on casting numbers (the numbers stamped into the end of the crankshaft are not legible), Jim thinks the engine dates from about 1911-1912. The 1 HP Famous was built from 1911 to 1917.


After getting it home I went on several bulletin boards on the Internet and made some inquiries, giving casting numbers and a general description of the engine. Several people replied, but one reply was a very specific, informing me that what I had was a 1 HP Famous built by International Harvester Company. Several guys told me it was a collectible engine and worth restoring, so I started looking into putting it together.

Before mounting his 1 HP Famous on a cart Jim set it on a piece of Yellow Pine, a copy of the board it was on when he first found it in the woods.

The cylinder head was missing, along with all of the parts mounted to it, but the fact the head was missing saved the cylinder from filling with water and freezing. I walked all around the area where I found the engine looking for missing parts, but I came up empty. After several inquiries I found a used head and some reproduction parts and decided to start the restoration process.