547 31st Ave., East Moline, Illinois 61244
I was lucky enough to pick up a rare find, a 1954 Bantam, 8 HP,
in excellent condition. I was in training school in Davenport,
Iowa. I showed the instructor a picture of the six engine garden
tractor I had built. He asked me if I would be interested in
another tractor, and if I would restore it as well as I had my
Power Ram. Being curious, I said I wouldn’t mind trying, and he
gave me his phone number and address.
Approximately three months went by since I had seen him. I was
talking to Norm Davis of Cable, Illinois about the unknown tractor
which I considered not worth picking up in Chicago. I thought Norm
was going to explode: ‘Let’s go get it. If you don’t
want it I will take it.’ So, off we went to Chicago through an
ice and snow storm, getting lost. When we finally found the
location, there was the little Bantam sitting, all rusty and on
three wheels. You might call that ‘love at first sight. ‘
Anyway it shows you that one should check on every lead he has.
I made a little two wheel rider, with a single luxury van seat I
picked up at a yard sale for two dollars, and set of fenders
I’d bought for five dollars. I had a set of wheels and made the
frame, which is my wife’s command seat. We get many compliments
on the rig.
I like flywheels, especially big ones, but now I can’t
afford any, being retired. Now I have taken an interest in old
Briggs &. Stratton engines. They also seem to make a good
showing, especially the open valve. Being a little low on cash, I
decided to start making something out of the 5 & 6S engines. I
have finished one model, and to my amazement it runs well.
I cut the valve assembly off the block of one old engine,
plugged the two inch hole, ported and relieved the head. Then I
inverted the head on a 6S engine. I installed a Maytag spark plug
in the exhaust port, made an overhead cam with the timing chain and
two rocker arms. I also installed two carburetors, a timing guard
and a brass gas tank.
I am also building another engine of the same design with the
camshaft at the back bottom of the engine, using alternator
bearings for the cam and roller tappets, five inch push rods and
six inch long rocker arms. This time the spark plug comes out of
the middle of the head. I’m still working on this project, and
hope to be done by the first show. This is a time-consuming
If anyone would want any more information on these two engines,
I will try to answer to my best ability. What I like about GEM is
that it has many different angles of attack on model engine
building, which helps us to keep from building what someone else
has already made. There’s a big wonderful world of many kinds
and makes of tractors, farm machinery and old engines. Good stories
about the past make us look back in yesteryear. This is what makes
great reading and great shows.