Gas Engine Magazine

A Family Heirloom

By Staff

1606 Exeter Road Westminster, Maryland 21157

I remember I was about ten years old the first time I saw the
old Galloway saw rig. It was sitting in a dark corner of my
grandfather’s barn, the other half of which enclosed a spring
where he and his father before him, operated a spring water
business. The farm is located just outside of Richmond, Virginia,
and it is here that the saw rig did its work. My great-grandfather
moved his family to Richmond from Owego, New York, in 1917, but I
believe the saw rig was purchased after they arrived. The majority
of the logs it cut were probably used as firewood on the farm.
Anyway, as I said, the first time I saw the rig was about
twenty-eight years ago. It was dirty, covered with dust, oil and
grease. I asked my grandfather what it was, and he said that it was
an old gasoline engine that didn’t work anymore. So that was
it. In my young mind it was forgotten.

In 1993 while visiting the Mason Dixon Historical Society Show
in Westminster, Maryland, where I live, I saw a seven horsepower
Galloway engine that looked very familiar. My memories came back of
that old engine in the barn. I made plans to take a closer look at
the old saw rig on my next visit to Richmond. My grandfather passed
away in 1987, so my sister and her husband live on the farm now
with my grandmother. Upon seeing the old saw rig again, I know
I’ve been bitten by the ‘gas engine bug.’ Sure, I’d
seen it now and again over the years, but to my great sorrow, I
never paid much attention to it, nor asked my grandfather any more
about it while he was still alive. But now I knew I had to do
something about it. I had to restore it! So I looked closer.

It all seemed to be there with the only problem being a stuck
piston. But every thing else seemed complete, even down to the trip
lever on the Webster magneto. The brass Galloway nameplate read
serial number 46964, 7 HP.

The next problem was getting it back home where I could begin
the task of restoration. So in the spring of 1994, with the help of
my brother-in-law and his tractor, the saw rig was pulled out of
the barn and onto a rented U-Haul trailer for the trip home to my
garage and sixteen months of disassembly, cleaning, stripping,
sandblasting, priming, painting, and assembling. I sent a query to
Mr. Wendel’s Reflections column for advice on painting and pin
striping as well as researching in his American Gasoline Engines
book and various other Galloway pamphlets purchased at the

As the project progressed, everything seemed to fall into place.
This was the first time I had tackled anything of this magnitude,
but as it turned out, it appeared that my grandfather and
great-grandfather took very good care of the engine and saw rig
during their life-times. The only rust that I could find was on the
old iron wheels and a slight amount in the cylinder which was
remedied with a little bit of honing. The piston came free with a
few taps on its head with a 4×4 piece of wood and a mallet. The
rings were in very good shape, so they were removed without
breaking, cleaned, and then put back on, again without breaking
(just lucky I guess). The Babbitt bearings also seemed to be in
very good condition, so I surmised that my grandfather repaired
them just before he retired the engine. The valves were somewhat
worn how-ever, so I took the head and valves to the local machine
shop where they ground the valves and installed new guides. Another
problem I discovered was that the flywheels were not identical. One
was slightly larger than the other. At first I thought it was just
to compensate for the clutch pulley, but I later found out from my
uncle (who helped my grandfather saw wood with it), that one
flywheel had been replaced around 1945 to 1946. It seems that one
of them had developed a crack, so my grandfather went to the
junkyard for a replacement. He couldn’t find a Gallo-way wheel,
so he got one that was close. Unfortunately, it wasn’t keyed
the same so the balance was off. According to my uncle, this was
when the engine was retired. He said that after putting the
replacement flywheel on, it ran so off-balance that it nearly shook
itself to pieces. My uncle couldn’t remember which flywheel was
replaced, and I couldn’t figure it out either because one had a
part number cast in it that said G739 (I thought the G was for
Gallo-way), and the other looked like the wheels on another 7 HP
Galloway I had seen. However, whether it was just luck or a little
help from my late grandfather, I happened to order some back issues
of GEM and on the cover of the July 1987 issue I happened to notice
a picture of an International Famous engine owned by a man not far
from where I live, and on this engine was a flywheel that looked
exactly like the one with the casting number on it. So I took a
chance and looked up the fellow’s name in the local phone book
and called him. Lo and behold! He said that my flywheel was from a
4 HP International as the ‘G 739’ was an International part
number. So the mystery was solved. Whether or not the engine would
run okay at a slow speed remained to be seen.

Piece by piece it was beginning to come together. I was able to
reuse most of the original nuts and bolts. The only ones I replaced
were the large ones that bolted the engine to the I-beam frame. The
only real difficulty I had was with the friction clutch. When I
first re-moved the cover, the inside seemed to be half full of what
I thought was water. However, I have read that some of the friction
clutches were filled with oil. Does anyone have any information on
this subject? Anyway, the guts of the clutch seemed to be in fairly
good shape after a good cleaning, however I couldn’t figure out
how to completely disassemble it to remove it from the shaft. Does
anyone have the answer to this problem, too? I was able to reuse
the original gas tank after repairing some pin holes and coating
the inside with gas tank sealer. I did have to replace the gas
line, though. Another bit of divine help I believe I received was
in repairing the connection in the side of the tank. I needed a tap
to recut the threads so as to install the elbow for the gas line. I
did not have one of my own that was the right size so I went
hunting in my grand-father’s old tool boxes that I have, and to
my surprise, among all the old tools, there was one old tap, the
exact size I needed!

So now here it is October, sixteen months since I began, and its
all put back together, painted and pinstriped. The only thing left
is to start it.

My father came over for some moral support (and to help turn the
fly-wheels). A couple of hours and some tired muscles later, all we
can get is just one cough out of it. I decided to call in an
expert, Mr. Edgar Miller. Ed lives close by, has a wonderful engine
collection, and has helped me with refurbishing the Webster magneto
and providing a lot of advice along the way. I couldn’t have
done it without him. So after Ed comes over armed with a 12 volt
battery and coil, we tinker with it some more and narrow things
down to a stiff intake valve spring. Ed provides a spare, we
install it, turn the flywheels over a couple of times, adjust the
fuel mixture a little, and the old engine finally comes back to
life after a fifty year nap. What a feeling! However, we quickly
discover how out-of-balance it really is. But as long as it is kept
governed at a slow speed it runs fine. I don’t plan on cutting
any wood with it so I won’t be running it fast.

As I understand it, all the Galloway Company records were lost
years ago. What I would like to do is gather a list of all the
Galloway engines and serial numbers from across the country,
especially those with known manufacturing dates, to see if I can
establish a time line of when they were made. If any Galloway
owners could provide me with this information, I will give you a
copy of what I can come up with. I was also wondering if there
exists a manufacturing date listing of Webster magnetos and serial
numbers. If you can date the mag, then you should be able to narrow
down the engine’s manufacturing date. Any ideas?

Now that my project is just about completed, I hope to be able
to participate in the shows in the Maryland and Pennsylvania area
in 1996, especially in Westminster and Arcadia. See you

In memory of my grandfather, Phillip A. Umber.

  • Published on Jun 1, 1996
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