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Unfinished Business

Author Photo
By Staff

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!

Contact engine enthusiast Kevin Hesse at: 6028 E. Joy Road,
Ann Arbor, Ml 48105; e-mail: khesse@comcast.net

Published on Apr 1, 2004

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines