My First and Favorite

By Staff
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1603 S. Market Street, Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577-4025

Bill L. Briney of 1603 S. Market Street, Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577
tells the story of how he got started in the engine hobby.

This is the story of how I got started in the gas engine hobby.
My wife Karen and I and my parents went camping to a lake in
southeastern Iowa, Labor Day weekend in 1974. My dad suggested we
take one day off from fishing and drive to Mt. Pleasant and visit
the Old Threshers Reunion.

While there, we spotted a one cylinder Maytag for sale in the
swap tent for $25. We split the cost and brought the Maytag back to
the campgrounds.

After the carburetor, check valve, and points were cleaned, the
Maytag started. I imagine the neighboring campers did not
appreciate a Maytag popping away at midnight.

The next summer I found a farmer neighbor of Dad’s had an
old flywheel engine in his scrap iron pile that he would give us.
Dad, Karen and I went and picked it up. It was a 2 HP Rock Island
engine that years before he had taken a sledge hammer to. A scrap
iron dealer was supposed to buy the iron pile but for some reason
he never came back.

One flywheel had all the spokes broken and the magneto and
igniter were broken in pieces. I found the main caps in the water
hopper. The crankshaft being still attached to the connecting rod
when thrown into the iron pile had twisted the connecting rod
considerably. The trucks were given to some boys, years before, to
use as a wagon.

I bought a pair of flywheels, ignitor, and a magneto at a swap
meet in Coon Rapid, Iowa.

The piston was stuck so badly that it took one year of soaking
with penetrating fluid of all kinds, all the power my ten-ton press
could push, and lots of heat with my acetylene torch.

The cylinder was pitted so badly my mechanic, Darrell Rust,
bored the cylinder and we pressed a sleeve in. That was our first
sleeve job and it worked out well. I was lucky to find a set of
trucks at a farm sale.

This Rock Island is serial #A59497, and came by rail car to
Newton, Iowa, where the first owner took a team and wagon to the
depot and brought it to his farm in New Sharon, Iowa, 40 miles

He used this engine until electricity came to his place, then
sold it to another farmer to pump water at a well out in the
pasture. This was the farmer who gave the engine to Dad and me.

This was my first engine. I now have over ninety flywheel
engines and this is still my favorite. It is a slow running engine,
I think due to large flywheels.

Both farmers who had owned this engine have been to my place and
watched me start it for them. Out of all these ninety engines, I
only have twenty-four restored.

Gas Engine Magazine
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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines