My First Engine was My Second

Trials and Tribulations in Returning a 25 HP IHC Giant to Working Form

| May/June 2002

  • IHC Giant Mogul

  • 25 HP Giant Mogul Engine

  • 25 HP Giant engine

  • 25 HP Giant engine

  • IHC Giant Mogul engine

  • IHC Giant Mogul
  • 25 HP Giant Mogul Engine
  • 25 HP Giant engine
  • 25 HP Giant engine
  • IHC Giant Mogul engine

Loren Rarick's circa 1912 25 HP IHC Giant Mogul. Loren constructed the cooling tank working off photographs. Later measurements showed he was only off by a half-inch from the original.

In the October 1996 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, wrote an article about my restoration of a 1941 Stover CT-4. It was my second engine find, but my first restoration. I called the article My Second Engine was My First. 1 ended up restoring the Stover first because my first engine, the IHC Giant Mogul featured here, was stored some 65 miles from my home, and outdoors to boot. Not exactly prime working conditions. Well, I finally got the Giant home - and it only took me two more years to make it run.

Engine Background

This engine has spent its entire life in the area, and it history is interesting. It was originally purchased and shipped to Delta, Colo., sometime around 1912 or 1913 by a Mr. Obergfell, who used it to pump water from the Uncompahgre River to irrigate his farm. From what 1 have learned, in the fall of the first year he used it his son suggested they drain the water out of it. Mr. Obergfell told him it wouldn't get that cold, and besides, they were going to use it again the next day. That night it froze, resulting in a broken head and cracked water jacket on the cylinder.

The head was removed and repaired by a blacksmith, but the crack in the cylinder is still there after 88 years. It makes an interesting conversation piece, and I can't count the number of people who have told me I should repair it, and even how to repair it. But, I think it is just part of the engine and its history, so I'm just going to leave it as it is.

In 1937 an electric pump replaced the Giant, and it was sold to Carl Smith, who used it to power a sawmill. Carl's daughter remembers as a littler girl calling it the 'singing engine,' because when the tappets would hit it would make a ringing sound. She says she could hear it from three miles away as they drove up the road to the sawmill it powered. You have to listen to it to really understand, but it is a very pleasant engine to listen to and to watch.

In 1953 it was retired from its sawmill duties, a REO truck engine employed in its place. Harold Smith, Carl's son, says he had his brother replace the engine because the REO was easier to start. Just pull the choke, turn the key, push the button and it was running.

The 25 HP Giant as it appeared when Loren Rarick first purchased it. Loren had already removed the exhaust valve assembly when this photo was taken.

Some time after the engine was retired, Carl told his family he was going to bring the engine home. He jumped into his pickup and left early the next morning to get it, but he returned home later that evening without the engine. He went in the house and sat down without saying a word. When his family asked him where the engine was, he replied, 'I don't want to talk about it.' He never told anyone what happened or where the engine was, and he took the story to his grave.

Many years later, some local engine people found the engine sitting on a small farm on California Mesa, southwest of Delta, Colo. The man who owned the farm was sometimes hospitable, but at other times cantankerous. Sometimes he would let them look the engine over, and other times he would order them off the property, sometimes with threats. Even Harold Smith couldn't talk to him and was ordered off the property.

The finished 25 HP Giant. Restoration work has centered on returning the engine to working form, and the Giant will likely remain as you see it here.

As time passed the farm was divided up into smaller acreages, and a friend of mine, Jim Carr, bought one of the acreages 'as is,' which included the engine sitting next to a cattle shed. It had been sitting there for many years, evident by the fact it had sunk nearly six inches into the ground.

Jim liked looking at the Giant, and after he moved onto the property he moved the Giant into his back yard. At some juncture one of Jim's friends expressed interest in working on the Giant to get it running, so Jim let him take the engine to his farm about a mile and a half away. Jim finally decided he wanted to get the Giant back home, and the first time 1 saw it was when Jim and I had gone over to the farm to try and retrieve it. However, a short time later it disappeared again, and Jim finally found it on the property of the man who had sold him his acreage. The man refused to return it, Jim called the sheriff, and eventually he got it back.

The sheriff suggested that Jim do something with it, or it might disappear forever. Jim knew I was interested in old equipment, so following the sheriff's advice he called and asked if 1 was interested in the 'steam' engine, as he called it. Jim told me he didn't know anyone else who would do anything with it, so he gave it to me.

Another view of the 25 HP Giant as found. Considering how many times this engine moved around, it's amazing how complete it was.

Getting Started

When I started to work on the Giant, the first problem I had was a stuck exhaust valve. My friend Andy Moffat and I launched into it, taking off the exhaust pipe and removing the valve cage. This was not a one-man job, as just about every part on this engine is heavy - the entire engine and carriage weighs approximately 9,000 pounds. It took a 12-ton jack, penetrating oil, an acetylene torch, the two of us, and almost four hours to push the valve out of the guide. While I applied as much pressure to the valve as I could by hanging on the handle of the jack, Andy would heat it up. It gave slowly, and when it finally would break loose it would move about an eighth of an inch and the press frame would jump about a quarter of an inch off the floor.

Owing to the fact there was nothing covering the exhaust pipe during the 30 years or so the Giant sat outside, water had gotten into the valve cage and the valve stem had rusted along almost half its length. I was very thankful that the valve was closed during that time, because if it had been open it would only have been worse. The intake pipe was covered and it was okay, and fortunately for me no water got into the cylinder and the engine was free.

Several weeks later Andy stopped by with a gift. While visiting a friend at a junkyard Andy found a valve from an auxiliary diesel power unit being used as a doorstop. Andy found another doorstop and traded for it. The valve was slightly larger than the valve in the Giant, but Ralph Mulford at Mulford's Machine Shop was able to grind it down to size and machine it to match the original. He then fixed the guide, which had cracked, and lapped the valve and seat. It works perfectly.

When I got the Giant the cooling tank was missing, so with the aid of a micrometer and a picture of a Giant featured in C.H. Wendel's 150 Years of International Harvester book I scaled out a replacement tank. There was one picture of my engine in Wendel's book, so I measured the flywheel in that picture. Then I measured the flywheel on my engine, worked out the difference in scale between the two and came up with a conversion factor. I then measured the cooling tank in the picture, applied my conversion factor and worked out my final measurements for my tank. As a side note, when I took the engine to its first show Max Speer, the president of our club, the Western Slope Antique Power Association, told me to go out behind the museum building and in the junk pile 1 would find the original cooling tank for my engine. 1 measured the two tanks and found they were within one-half inch of each other.

To connect the replacement tank to my engine I ended up having to replace about half of the original plumbing, because every time I tried to unscrew a pipe its threads would break off. I would then cut the stub with a hacksaw blade and collapse it with a chisel to remove it, followed by measuring and threading a new piece.

I tried to find a three-stage ratchet oiler at Midwest Old Threshers, but all I could find was a two-stage. One man at the flea market had a three-stage oiler, but when I explained why 1 needed it he kept it for his own engine. I use a two-stage oiler for the main bearings and a drip oiler with a check ball for the piston.

The low-tension magneto was still in place, and with just a little work and a magnet recharge it would put out a small spark but not enough to fire the engine. 1 remembered reading in Wendel's book that there was an optional starter kit from the factory consisting of a battery, an induction coil and a double-pole knife switch. I bought the coil from John Wanat's ad in GEM and made a starter kit as described in the book. Now, if the battery is charged, it will usually fire after two or three turns of the flywheel.

The fuel pump piston rod was rusted and pitted badly, making it so I couldn't keep packing in the pump. To counter this I made a new piston, new packing and replaced the rusted check balls with stainless-steel ball bearings. That fixed that problem, but it still wouldn't pump fuel. Pushing a little further, I found that if I primed the check balls it would pump a little, but not enough to keep running.

Clearly 1 had a fuel supply problem, so I pulled the drain plug on the fuel tank shutoff valve -nothing ran out. I pushed a piece of baling wire up in the hole, into the tank and out came rust. When I would pull the wire out gas would start to run out, but then it would plug up again. After reaming it out numerous times I was able to get fuel to run steady and clean. Then 1 discovered that the fuel lines were rusted and plugged on the inside. I was able to ream out some of the lines using a speedometer cable and a drill motor, but the rest had to be replaced.

After getting fuel to the main carburetor 1 tried to fill the starting carburetor, but discovered it was full of leaf-cutter wasp nests and the main carburetor was full of rust. I removed them all, took them apart and sand blasted them inside and out. I made new springs for the metering valves and painted everything. Now, with the exception of an occasional plug at the fuel valve, the system works great.

The water pump was the next thing that wouldn't work. I took it apart and found that the piston was a hollow bronze casting, and that water had collected in it and frozen, expanding and cracking it on one side. I had to squeeze it back into shape, weld the crack with silver solder, then turn it on a lathe to true it up and smooth it out. I made a new packing using 1/8-inch Teflon packing string, and now it works just fine.

The Giant running at its first show. After a fair amount of experimenting, Loren finally settled on 200 rpm as a nice running speed.

As I got closer to finishing the Giant, Andy and I would occasionally try turning the engine to see if we were making progress. These engines are heavy and hard to turn, so Andy decided we should back his tractor up to the flywheel and turn it with his tractor tire. After positioning his tractor we jacked the wheel off the ground and started turning the engine - it worked. But since we didn't have all the necessary repairs and tuning done yet the Giant would cough, sputter and shake until it knocked the tractor off the jack. Things got very exciting for a moment. Then we discovered that the flywheel had cut a groove all the way around the tire about an inch and a half deep. Andy wasn't very happy.

Taking a different tack, we belted a 2 HP Fairbanks-Morse to the flywheel. It took five of us to hold everything in place; one holding the engine, one guiding the belt, two helping get the flywheels started turning and one running the front. The result was, unfortunately, the same, except this time we only had to contend with a belt jumping off and running away, not a tractor wanting to fall off a jack. From then on we turned it by hand.

Finally, with all the repairs done, we started it again, and it was almost a non-event. It took two of us pulling on the flywheels to turn it and one on the front to run the carburetor, choke, spark advance and compression release. When it fired the first time it got easier to spin the flywheels. When it fired again, it started to turn on its own. Then it started running faster and getting louder. When we released the compression release and advanced the timing, it got very loud. The governor was set at 350 rpm, which was too fast - it got scary without a load on the engine. We started it again, and when it reached about 300 rpm we held the throttle back. But even then, with two flywheels each weighing about 1,700 pounds, the whole engine started to jump and shake. Finally, Pete Campbell helped me set the flyweight governor to 200 rpm, where it runs nice, smooth and fairly quiet.

According to my research, this engine was built sometime between 1911 and 1913. I'll likely never know for sure, as the Mogul engine factory burned down in 1917 and all productions records were lost. I base my assumptions of its date of manufacture on the fact that International Harvester started manufacturing this engine in 1911. Early engines employed a low-tension magneto, but because they were hard to start IHC changed to a high-tension magneto in 1913. My engine has the low-tension magneto with an igniter. Other than that, it is purely speculation.

Well, that's the story of how my first engine became my second successful restoration. My Stover, by the way, is still going strong. It doesn't look as pretty, but it still sounds great.

Contact engine enthusiasst Loren E. Rarick at: 494-1/2 Grand Valley Dr., Grand Junction, CO 81504, (970) 434-3820, or e-mail:


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