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Unfinished Business

Father and Son Team Up to Complete a 20-Year-Old Project

| April/May 2004

  • 3 HP International Harvester Model M
    In addition to chrome flywheels and a polished, stainless steel exhaust, this 3 HP International Harvester Model M was treated to 11 coats of prismatic metallic paint. While the special treatment may not please the purists, Kevin and his father think it's

  • 3 HP International Harvester Model M

About 20 years ago, Dad bought a 1925 IHC 3 HP Model M stationary engine. As a career mechanic who grew up on a farm, he enjoys finding old engines and getting them running again. Dad spent one winter working on the Model M, installing a new cylinder sleeve, rings and some other repairs to get the engine running again.

Months later, the winter restoration fun was over, and a new show season was starting, so he sprayed a coat of primer on the M, oiled it up good and put it aside until he had more time to paint it. For Dad, machining a new part or putting an old engine back together is much more interesting than sanding and painting, so often those are the last things to get done.

I didn't have much time to help Dad back then, so for the next 20 years the Model M sat waiting for a shiny new coat of paint while other projects were started and completed. These days I have more free time, so Dad and I are finally tinkering with engines together. We love to see how slow we can make an engine run, and I decided that the throttle-governed M would be a good challenge.

To make it run extra slow, we removed the governor springs, machined a smaller venture for the carburetor and re-adjusted the valve and spark timing. Now, the engine sounds great running at less than 100 rpm.

Normally, we restore an engine to match the original, but this smooth-running engine called for something more than the usual. I worked on the flywheels, the rocker arm and the carburetor top until they were smooth and shiny, then I had them chrome plated. Next, I buffed and polished all the copper and brass on the engine, and I replaced all the exhaust parts with polished stainless steel. Finally, I added 11 coats of prismatic metallic paint to give it a very special look.

I know some purists will frown on it for not being original, but I felt that an engine that sounded this good firing less than once a second deserved to look just as good as it ran. I just hope Dad doesn't find out that I spent more on the paint than he spent on the engine when he bought it!


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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