Restoration Rescue:

From a Pile of Parts, a 3 HP McCormick-Deering M Comes Back to Life


| January/February 2002



McCormick-Deering Model M

John Bailey's Model M was already disassembled when purchased, with small parts stored in labeled bags.

Back in April 2001 our club, The Louisiana Two Cylinder Club, had its spring show in Longville, La. As usual, tractor and engine shows are not just a time for us to display our treasures, but also a good time for friends to get together to share some fellowship. While visiting with one of my friends, Ken Vincent, a 3 HP McCormick-Deering he had on display came up in the course of our conversation. I had seen the engine briefly several months earlier, and I guess anytime you start talking about an old engine it seems inevitably the question comes up, 'is it for sale?' Well, I asked, and his answer was a definite 'probably.' After just a little negotiating, Ken said, 'why don't you just come over and get it.' He didn't need to say it twice. A few weeks later I picked up the engine.

Taking Stock

The engine was mostly disassembled, so it loaded up easily in the back of my pickup for the trip home. It wasn't until I got it to my shop that I really looked carefully at what I had. It was an over-strike ignitor model, s/n 39948, manufactured in 1921. The piston was stuck badly, and the igniter, governor, and fuel pump were busted up and would not be salvageable. The magneto could not be used either, as the magnets were missing. There were also a couple of small cracks in the crankcase on the governor side, but otherwise it was in pretty good shape. Since it was already disassembled, a lot of the preliminary work was done, and small parts had been stored in bags and labeled.

With the initial inspection complete, I knew there were several things I had to do before I committed to restoring the engine. I had to get the piston out to determine its and the cylinder's condition. I made up my mind at the outset that the restoration would be in two stages. The first stage would be to simply get the engine running, probably with a spark plug and buzz coil. If I was successful at that, then I would commit to a full restoration. I figured the first stage would be fairly economical.

The intake valve came out of the head fairly easily, but the exhaust valve was stuck solid. With several weeks of soaking in penetrating oil, and with a few well directed blows to the valve stem, the valve came out. What was left of the igniter was also stuck solidly in the head. I soaked the head in carburetor cleaner for a couple weeks, trying to free it up. The igniter was broken off almost flush with the head and there was nothing to grab on to. I was, however, able to get a small chisel against the ignitor inside the combustion chamber and, surprisingly, with a few light blows it started to move and came out.

The McCormick-Deering Model M engines have a sleeve for the cylinder. The piston was stuck towards the bottom of the cylinder such that the bottom of the piston was about a half-inch inside the cylinder. Although the upper part of the cylinder looked to be in good shape, it looked like water had been in the other end as the bottom half-inch or so of the cylinder was rusted badly. I sandblasted the bottom end to clear away the rust, and then I stood the crankcase up vertically and began a long process of soaking and pounding.