Something Different

Not Just ''A Little Different,'' A Lot Different

| October/November 2001

  • Briggs & Stratton engines

  • Planet Jr. garden tractor

  • Briggs & Stratton engines
  • Planet Jr. garden tractor

A very carefully orchestrated medly issues from this unique arrangement - all 15 engines date from 1949-1957.

When I started my project, it was supposed to be 'a little different,' but after three years it turned out to be 'a lot different.'

In 1998 I modified a Planet Jr. garden tractor and installed five Briggs & Stratton engines on it. I called it 'A Little Different.' My wife and I had so much fun showing it at engines shows she said I should try to build a bigger tractor. Sooo, along came 'A Lot Different.'

I used a Simplicity transaxle walk behind. It has six forward speeds, two reverse. I beefed up the gears, but I didn't build it to pull, just to show the engineering of it. It has dull 6 x 12-inch tires, and you steer by lifting the front wheels and turning left or right. It is 11 feet, 7 inches long, 44 inches wide at the wheels, and weighs about 1,000 pounds. It has disc brakes and 15 Briggs & Stratton engines, all manufactured between 1949-1957, all modified, and all running on a special fuel mix.

It has 33 operator controls, 27 separate cables, five compression releases, four jackshafts, 24 belts, 13 idlers, 48 pulleys and 12 clutches. The 15 engines each have a 1 x 6-inch straight exhaust pipe, and it sounds like one big engine when they are all are running at the same time.

Kenny Ryan's first foray into something 'a little different.' Five Briggs & Stratton engines, one frame.

I use a deadman safety switch on the engines when I ride on the sulky. Because people stand pretty close sometimes there are scatter shields on the three front engines in case of a broken rod.

The right rear engine is started first with a rope, and then they start each other. When the engines are warmed up, and you hold your tongue just right, you can throw one switch and shut down 14 of the engines and restart them in about ten seconds.

I have been playing around with Briggs & Stratton engines since I was a kid, so I've been building weird things for more than 50 years. I have to admit it would have been easier to put in two 427 Chevy engines rather than 15 small Briggs, but I like a challenge. All the engines combined add up to 100 cubic inches with a horsepower of 30-35.

I have nine complete spares ready, as it is easier to switch an engine than to try to fix it at a show. I like antique machinery, so I wanted to build this tractor as it would have been built 50 years ago, using nothing modern and making all the parts myself.

If you see us at a gas engine show, feel free to ask questions about my tractor, because it definitely is 'A Lot Different.'

Contact engine enthusiasts Kenny and Cynthia Ryan at 126 North Fairview Avenue Dover, OH 44622


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