A Boy and his Baker

By Staff
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Devin melting the old babbitt out with an acetylene torch.
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Devin Holland and GEM Editor-in-Chief Richard Backus looking over the 1-1/4 HP Monitor engine the Hollands had just purchased at the 2003 Tri-State gas engine show in Portland, Ind.
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Curt shows Devin how to pour babbitt, a valuable skill in gas engine restoration.
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Curt and Devin cast their own insert to fit on the connecting rod and rod cap. Once set in place, it was bored to fit the crankshaft.
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Another jig was made to accurately ream the valve guides.
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To ensure they would accurately pour the babbitt bearings, Curt and Devin made a jig to hold everything in place.
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The final product, a beautiful upright Monitor brought back to life by father and son.

In 2003 was our son Devin’s
first trip to the fall Portland, Ind., show. As you can imagine,
any 10-year-old would have been excited to miss school to attend
this show. Prior to the trip, he decided it was time to pick out
his first engine – and finding “his” engine in the swap area was
high on his agenda. Once we finally arrived and set up in the
Stationary Engine List area, it was time to see all the treasures
in the swap area. My wife, Missy, and I had a little chat with him
beforehand and explained the size of the sale area, the amount of
items there, the variety and the importance of seeing everything
before making his choice.

We were about halfway through the area and Devin had gotten a
little ahead of us. Next thing we knew, Devin was running back to
us all excited saying he’s found his engine and we have to go buy
it now! I tried to calm him, saying we needed to go check it out
thoroughly before making a decision. Devin promptly replied that he
had already done this and that the engine turned freely, had
compression and there were no cracks in the hopper. My goodness, he
had been listening!

We arrived at Nebraska engine dealer Larry Lucke’s trailer and
the engine was exactly as Devin had described it. He had picked out
a little 1932 Baker Monitor upright, a 1-1/4 HP pump jack

After paying for the engine, and with some help from my friend
Dallas Cox and his golf cart, we had the engine back to the SEL

Collectively, the SEL crew worked on the engine for a couple of
hours and voila! The little engine ran! She was pretty worn out
from years of farm work, but she was running and this made Devin so

It was our intent to restore the engine and have it ready for
the 2004 Portland show, but other priorities, combined with the
amount of work that ultimately had to be done to the engine, forced
us to aim for the 2005 show.

The Fun Part

Shortly after we got the engine home, we began taking it apart,
cleaning, sandblasting and priming all the parts. We also began
assessing all the parts that would have to be repaired. Nothing was
broken, but this little engine sure was worn out. One of the first
things we had to do was chuck the piston and clean up the ring
grooves. Once this was done we ordered new custom rings from
Niagara Piston Ring Works Inc. in Corry, Pa.

Then we moved on to the block, serial no. 43784. We made new
brass bushings to support the camshaft and added oil seals on the
outside to keep the oil mess down. Once we had the bushings in, a
little measuring revealed that the top, where the cylinder mounts,
was not parallel to the camshaft. It was out about 0.007-inch, but
a little milling corrected this.

When we had it running at Portland in 2003, it leaked profusely
around the hand hole access in the crankcase. This opening simply
wasn’t machined right at the factory and some more milling
corrected this, too.

Joe Prindle, a noted Monitor expert and organizer of the
Baraboo, Wis., show, had sent Devin some factory literature. From
that literature, we learned that the piston centerline was offset
from the crankshaft centerline to reduce side thrust on the power
stroke. But how much offset? With some careful measuring and some
geometry/CAD work, we determined the offset was 3/4-inch. That much
offset was quite a surprise.

While we were measuring, we determined the babbitt mains were
worn enough to warrant re-pouring them. Several things need to be
aligned correctly on a Monitor when pouring new mains: The
crankshaft has to be parallel to the cylinder mounting surface,
parallel to the camshaft, and exactly 5 inches away from the
camshaft for proper meshing of the gears. It seemed the best way to
assure we poured them accurately was to make a fixture.

When we were sure the fixture would do its job, Devin melted the
old babbitt out. It’s important to pass the craft of babbitt
pouring on to the next generation. Once the Babbittrite (babbitt
putty) was in place and everything was hot, Devin poured his first
bearings with a small ladle. He was a little nervous with the hot
metal, but he did it.

The only thing we didn’t repair ourselves was grinding the throw
on the crankshaft. This was left to Standard Crankshaft in
Charlotte, N.C. It took about 0.007-inch to clean it up and get it
round again.

Once done, this meant the rod babbitt insert would no longer
work. I figured there was no chance of finding an undersized
insert, so we just made a mould and cast the insert right onto the
rod and cap. Once poured, we bored it for a 0.004-inch clearance to
the crankshaft with a 1/8-inch shim for future wear.

There were still a few mechanical details to complete, such as
making new intake and exhaust valves and reaming the worn valve
guides in the exhaust valve cage and the cylinder. The exhaust
valve was simple to open up from 5/16- to 3/8-inch. Reaming the
intake valve guide to the same 3/8-inch proved to be more of a
challenge. To assure perfect alignment with the intake seat and
exhaust cage taper, a special reaming fixture was made to guide the
reamer. The fixture was bolted in place and we reamed the intake
valve guide true again.


In conjunction with the engine work, we began working on wooden
rails to go with the set of Rock Island trucks we had picked up at
Tri-State’s 2004 spring Swap and Sell in Portland. SEL member
Richard Fink came up with a nice piece of oak that we sawed into
rails for the cart. Local cabinet maker and engine buddy Clayton
Ballard and his son David helped us plane, sand and router the
details on the edges.

Once they were ready for finishing, Devin stained and
polyurethaned the rails to make them look nice.

In late July we began assembling the engine and got some paint
on it. We built a pump assembly in early August from PVC pipe and a
foot valve that fit up inside the pump. We began putting the whole
thing together on the cart and got it done about a week before the
2005 Portland show. Devin and his engine had their debut at the
40th anniversary of Portland. We’ve got the engine running slow and
it pumps water at a nice, leisurely rate. It’s great to have youth
involved in the hobby and it’s important that we pass our passion
for old iron on to them.

Contact engine enthusiasts Curt and Devin Holland at: 209
Wynnchester Road, Gastonia, NC 28056; (704) 853-2992;

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