A Mogul Birthday

One man's long quest comes to a head on a very special day

| October 2006


Rob Charles’ beautifully restored Mogul, which was in bad shape when it showed up in his driveway.

Birthdays are always good days, and some birthdays are really special. I am a big fan of IHC engines and have collected around 30 in the last 15 years. One of my dream engines has always been a portable sideshaft Mogul. I had been unable to corral one for all those years, but the day before my 31st birthday, a 1918 IHC 8 HP hopper-cooled portable Mogul literally showed up in my driveway!

The appearance was no accident. My friend Ed Johnson knew I had been on the lookout for a sideshaft Mogul for a long time. He had been given a lead on an "unknown" IHC engine (probably an M) located somewhere south of the Camden area in southern New Jersey. He took a gamble, went to see it, bought it and hauled it home in the back of his 1979 Ford F-250. It barely fit. He stopped at my house on the way home.

On the night of Feb. 18, 2000, around 9 p.m., Ed was knocking on my door. Imagine my surprise when we went out to his truck and he showed me what he had. The nametag was gone, so a quick measure of the flywheel told us he had an 8 HP. It was not pristine - not by a long shot. Bits and pieces were scattered all over the truck. The previous owner had taken apart everything that would come apart. Even in the dim light from the back porch, I could see heavy rust covering every part, deep pitting on the flywheel faces and a 14-inch long crack running lengthwise in the cylinder wall. The trucks were almost a total loss. Only one crossboard remained intact. The bolts were all rusted away. I am not sure what was holding it together besides the rust, but it was a portable Mogul … and they don't grow on trees. I decided I had to have it.

Ed and I discussed the "how much" and agreed on a price. I obtained the necessary wifely approval and I was on my way. Wow! I had finally gotten one of my dream engines.

Ed told me he bought it from an antique collector who purchased it from a family who he thought were the original owners. The scant history that came with it was that it had powered a cider mill and had probably never seen the inside of a shed. Since it was late, Ed took it home and I agreed to pick it up the next day (my birthday) at his shop. It would be easier to take it off the back of his truck there, as he has a boom truck.

I was in high spirits when I brought the engine and its remains to my house. My brother-in-law happened to stop by and asked me if it was a cannon. The cylinder was not attached, so I supposed a non-engine guy might think it was a cannon. At that point, it might as well have been one. It sure didn't look like much of an engine.