12 HP Reeves Restoration

| October/November 1998

  • 12 HP Reeves Engine

  • 12 HP Reeves Engine

  • 2 HP Reeves Engine
    2 HP Reeves (companion engine).

  • 12 HP Reeves Engine
  • 12 HP Reeves Engine
  • 2 HP Reeves Engine

320 Locust Street Ridgecrest, California 93555

Restoration of any of these old engines requires a lot of work, but more importantly a lot of LUCK. In the case of this restoration, I believe I used up a good share of my allotted luck. One day out of the blue, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to talk engines. He was fairly new to the hobby and, like most of us, was eager to exchange information. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had acquired an engine which was too large for him to store and which he was looking to trade for a smaller one. He had researched the engine through scanning the big 'yellow book,' and he believed that the engine was a Reeves. He described it as having a huge water hopper but missing most of the small parts, including the entire governor assembly. Well, I was ready for a challenging project, so we eventually worked out a trade after exchanging photographs and numerous phone calls.

I never expected to find any of the missing parts, so my initial approach was to research engines that had similar designs with the intent of possibly copying and duplicating these parts. During my research, I located an old article in GEM regarding a 2 HP Reeves and its owner, Mr. Lotus Alexander of Columbus, Indiana. I called Mr. Alexander and had a brief conversation with him regarding the large Reeves. He informed me that according to my description of the size, it had to be a 12 HP since they didn't make 10 HP. The bore is 7  inches with a 14 inch stroke. He had never seen one of this size and was somewhat amazed that I had turned one up. I sent Lotus a picture of the engine, but unfortunately he passed away two months after our conversation.

Good friend and fellow engine enthusiast Ed Cooksey noticed that the Reeves engine governor design was similar to that described in the Holm patent which had been used on the Sparta Economy engines. With this in mind, he drafted a letter to Mr. Glenn Karch, an expert on Economy and Hercules engines. Mr. Karch had no information regarding this similarity, but was wise enough to forward our request to Don Siefker. Don provided some information on the Reeves governor and suggested that we contact Mr. Charles Reeves of Plainview, Texas, for additional information on Reeves engines.

This was where we hit the lucky jackpot and the engine gods took pity. The first thing I discovered by talking to Charles Reeves was that he had a 12 HP Reeves which he had believed to be the only surviving one. His engine is a portable model with the original horse pulled trucks, while mine is a stationary model with a sub-base. The next thing I learned was Charles Reeves is about the nicest and most helpful individual an engine collector can hope to run into. Mr. Reeves offered up any, or all, of his engine parts for loan to assist me in making copies of the parts I needed. Since Ed Cooksey was planning a trip through Texas that summer, we agreed to have Ed stop by and remove any parts that would be needed in the project. During the remainder of the year and the following summer, weekends were taken up with getting parts reproduced so that the original ones could be returned. The cast iron parts were taken to Covert Iron Works in Huntington Park, California. Roy Covert was very helpful and produced excellent castings from the original parts. The cast iron crank guard alone weighed 55 pounds.

With the exception of the fuel mixer, the borrowed parts were copied and machined by the following Thanksgiving. My wife and I decided to take a quick trip to Plainview, Texas, and return the parts during the Thanksgiving break. Of course, this involved spending a very enjoyable afternoon with Charles discussing engines. He insisted that I keep the fuel mixer longer until Ed Cooksey could return it the following summer when he came back through on his way to Mississippi.


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