1938 IH LA

By Staff
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1535 Peach, Clovis, California 93612

This IH LA 1-2H.P.engine, S/N 44109, was purchased new by my
neighbor, Palmer Matz, in 1938 in Red Bluff, California, as part of
an integral milking machine unit. The dealer at that time was
Evenson and Younger. The unit was taken directly to Ft. Bragg,
which is probably better known for its redwood trees and ocean
fishing. Palmer had a dairy and lived in Red Bluff until 1940 when
he moved to Corning and continued dairying. After a year, he had
sufficient electricity that he no longer needed the LA. My Uncle
Henry Martin bought it from him to use on his large cement
mixer.

Uncle Henry was in the contracting business, and I vaguely
recall an open crankcase, hit and miss engine on the mixer. It was
fun to listen to, when it hit more often as the gravel was shoveled
in, and then as the load was dumped, the engine wouldn’t hit so
often. Understand of course, I was not doing the shoveling! Like
most of the open crankcase engines, it had lots of places to
lubricate and wear, and by 1941 it had served its time. The LA was
installed on the mixer where it was used until my uncle retired
from the contracting business in the early Fifties. It was finally
set aside about 1970, and my cousin Paul gave it to me in 1991.

The engine was complete except for the water hopper cover.
Fortunately, the piston was easy to free and the engine was
completely disassembled. The cylinder taper measured .012′ and
the rings were beyond further use. As it happened, Ford 9N rings
were on hand and since they are for 3 3/16
inch bore, they adapted very well with a little adjustment. The
valves were serviceable and ground. The connecting rod bearing was
pitted and breaking up, so a replacement was purchased from Hit and
Miss Enterprises. It has proved to be a worthy bearing insert. Fuel
line threads into the carburetor were stripped, so a brass fitting
was epoxied in to provide a good seal. The fuel tank bottom had
completely rusted out, so a replacement was installed. Something
had broken the Wico magneto top cover and water had rusted the
interior. A set of points and condenser revived the spark, but the
broken cover had to be repaired. An elderly gentleman at the
Chicago Branch of Wico said, ‘If you can find a cover for the
mag, I have four people who want it.’ With some epoxy
reconstruction it has been satisfactory and has an acceptable
appearance.

These engines usually start easy, but this one was determined to
humble me at least once. They have a little square coupling in the
crankcase connecting the governor to the throttle butterfly. It
goes together any way you would like, but not necessarily the right
way, and no amount of cranking will coax it to life. The harder I
sweat, the better my brain works, so after some of both, it
occurred to me where the problem might be located. It’s the
first accessory that goes into the crankcase, so some backtracking
was necessary. Most mechanics know that if you watch the position
of the butterfly valve as the governor is connected, it can be done
right the first time. It now runs very well.

I displayed the LA and my IH Famous 2 HP at the first California
Antique Farm Equipment Show in Tulare. It was a great show.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines