A Mogul Mission

15 HP International Harvester Mogul a different sight in central Nebraska

| June 2007

About the same year Gas Engine Magazine began (1966), my dad Rod Epping and granddad Ben Epping were just becoming interested in the hobby. As they attended shows and began noticing all the different makes and unique features of engines, one especially stood out to my dad. While not an extremely rare or exotic engine, something about all the working parts and the smooth, finely tuned revolutions of the sideshaft IHC Mogul engines intrigued him. It seemed one could imagine an electric motor inside running just right. Sitting there watching different examples of these machines perform, a sincere interest formed that would stick with him, and eventually be passed to me.

The problem was that there were very few of these engines in our area of south central Nebraska, so the thought of bringing one home seemed unlikely to a young enthusiast. But, eventually, Dad did manage to journey around and bring home a few hopper-cooled Moguls. He was thrilled to finally have some and really enjoyed these engines, but always thought about someday having a big screen-cooled model.

More than 35 years after his first encounter with Moguls, my dad was talking to a collector in Wisconsin who was telling him about a big Mogul he had just acquired. It was a 15 HP tank-cooled portable engine that had just been brought back from spending its working life in Uruguay, South America, where it was supposedly used in a shoe factory. Through the years, the engine had been used-up mechanically, and was going to be a major project to put back in order. But, amazingly, it still had a fair bit of original paint and looked like a really neat project in the photos he shared with us.

A couple years later, we were speaking to the owner again and he mentioned he was moving onto other interests and was going to sell the engine. During that time, he'd done some work on the Mogul, but it still needed a major overhaul. At that moment, we really didn't think seriously about buying it. We'd just bought a 20 HP Mogul engine and weren't ready for another one.

A few weeks later we got a call from Steve Maxwell in Indiana who'd learned that our 20 HP was actually a Mogul tractor engine. He was very interested in putting a tractor together and had some of the other parts to do so. Though we really liked the 20 HP engine, we knew we would never put it back in a tractor where it belonged. After some consideration, we decided the engine should really go to the tractor project, as there are none of this model left. And so a deal was made, Steve went to Wisconsin, purchased the 15 HP engine and in June of 2004 delivered it to our farm in Nebraska in exchange for the larger engine.

So it begins ...

We started on the project that summer and we could see we had a big job on our hands. There were many parts that were very worn and all of the original cooling system, tank supports, woodwork and even a few small engine parts were gone. We found the inside of the engine completely coated with a thick tar-like oil residue. They must have some odd grades of oil in South America, as I'd never seen anything like it! We had to steam clean the crankcase, but were careful on the outside due to the nice original finish that we wanted to preserve as much as possible. We got the engine torn down that summer, but didn't get much further.