A Silver King Associated Rides Again!

By Staff
1 / 10
Associated engine owned by Foster fields Farm.
2 / 10
Rear view of the tractor with a plow.
3 / 10
Front view of the tractor note missing grill section.
4 / 10
Close up of Zenith updraft carb and pre-heater. Note 1 gallon lawn mower tank upper left.
5 / 10
Close up of homemade starter detail.
6 / 10
Old Sears battery.
7 / 10
Homemade exhaust pipe a 3' gutter pipe.
8 / 10
Mrs. St. James' home.
9 / 10
Removed fuel tank and hood from tractor.
10 / 10
Side view of the Silver King at Foster fields building.

26 Mott Place Rockaway Boro, New Jersey 07866

I am vice-president of The North Jersey Antique Engine and
Machinery Club, based in Sussex County, in Northern New Jersey. We
have members from all over the state, and indeed some out of state
as well. Our club’s purpose is to educate the public in how the
old engines and machinery, we demonstrate, operated and made life
easier on the farmer, improving the quality of life for all the
people in the future generations. Our club has been up and running
since 1980.

In October of 1987, I was contacted by a gentleman named Bob
Fossetta, who expressed an interest in joining the club. He wanted
to tap our knowledge of and information on engine repairs and
operations for some equipment he had on his job. As it turned out,
his job was operating a farm! I had quite a few conversations with
Bob about the equipment on his farm, and we traded information. He
is Manager of Farm Operations at the Morris County Park
Commission’s Historic Foster fields Farm, in Morristown, New

Bob was cleaning out several old farm buildings filled with
nearly 50 years accumulation of farm debris. In one of the
buildings, workers found many old tools and implements, including
an Associated Hired Hand engine which he wanted to get running for
display and use. As a historic farm, Foster fields is run as a
working farm, using no or little modern equipment in its daily
operations. Its operational time frame is from 1890 to 1920. Being
built about 1913, the little Associated would fit just fine in the
time frame, and would be a welcome addition to the farm

Bob had wanted to use the expertise of the members of the club
to learn how to restore the little 1 HP engine, in order to use it
at the farm. Unfortunately, through the winter months, we did not
have any winter projects going that Bob could use to get his own
project underway. We gave him some advice on how the engine should
run, but I guess that hands on practice is the best way to learn.
Anyway, in March of 1988, I received another call from Bob. He had
tried all of our suggestions on how to start the little engine, but
all it would do is sputter when it was cranked. He wanted to know
if I knew anyone he could call with the experience in running these
engines, who could give him a hand in getting it started, or at
least give him a few tips on start up procedures, as he was really
getting frustrated with it. I tried to help out over the phone but
it was clear, after a few minutes, that it wouldn’t work. I
realized that it was easier for me to go to the engine in order to
see what was going on, instead of trying to second guess the
problems over the phone.

I was met at the farm visitors entrance by Bob, who gave me a
quick tour of the farm facility. Although it had been part of the
county park system for about eight years, the farm was just now
beginning to come into its own as a working farm. The staff was
working full time just putting sections of it back into

As we approached the main barn I could smell the latest object
of their attention. The smell of old varnished fuel could be
detected from 50 feet away with no problem! It really stunk!!!
After a quick demonstration of their starting efforts I immediately
saw a few problems. First was the obviously extremely STALE FUEL.
Next were the semi-stuck intake and exhaust valves. They were
heavily coated with waxed up oil, dead gas, and a liberal coating
of grain dust, left behind by about 40 years of being buried under
tons of wheat and hay in a shed. Thirdly, the governor was stuck in
the open position. If the engine had started, it would have
accelerated until the old iron failed, and the engine would have
blown up with disastrous results. Lastly, the engine had been
forcefully turned over before all of the moving parts had been
checked for freeness. Luckily the ignitor was free, as well as the
rocker arm and exhaust valve. But alas, the magneto did not fare so
well. The rear bearing was made of yanuck (a zinc alloy), and it
had been seized on the armature. When the engine was turned over,
the yanuck armature core mount could not take the stress, and it
self-destructed, taking the 45 degree angle drive gear with it. It
appeared that the Associated two-bolt mag had ‘bought the
arm’ as it were.

To their credit though, they did have the battery and coil set
up right, and if the battery weren’t dead, the old engine might
have given them a few smoke rings to think about! I did keep
hearing ‘Where does the spark plug go?’ though! I decided
then and there that I would give the farm hands a lesson in antique
engine repairs. ‘Old Iron 101 is now in session’ I said,
and I went to work on the Associated in earnest.

After about three hours of cleaning, oiling, and tapping stuck
and semi-stuck parts, everything movable was free and lubricated,
with the exception of the poor magneto. With the addition of fresh
fuel to the now clean fuel tank, we were ready to do some serious
cranking! During the cleanup, I had even taken the ignitor off the
engine, and had shown the interested people how it worked to ignite
the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. Now with the
battery charged, we were ready to try again. Noting that the
compression was down, I gave the engine a few good fast spins with
the original hand crank freshly discovered on the shed floor. The
engine belched blue smoke, backfired a few times, spraying everyone
with rust, and finally coughed to life! As the engine spit and
sputtered, it slowly picked up speed until it finally latched off
and began to coast on its idle cycle.

‘What’s wrong with it?’ one of the hands asked.
‘Nothing’ I replied, just as the engine began firing again.
I then explained how the hit and miss governor worked on this style
engine. After about five minutes the engine stopped spitting out
mouse nests and seeds and was running well. After a final carb
adjustment, and a load test (a three foot section of a 2 by 4
against the flywheel) the engine was all set, with the exception of
the mag that was broken.

I took the mag apart, but internally it was hopeless. I called a
few of my magneto repair friends, but they told me what I had
already suspected, the mag was shot, and there were no parts
available as Associated had been out of business for about 60
years! I told Bob that his best bet was to contact some of his
friends in the Amish section of Pennsylvania, and ask them to try
to locate a replacement mag, or one for parts, even a dead one we
might salvage, it might work.

In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to run the engine on
battery and coil, as the magneto was an option at the time the
engine was built. At a later date I did make up an operational
magneto, out of the original, and three others that Bob had located
in the Amish country.

That summer, the North Jersey Antique Engine and Machine Club
was invited by the staff to give a demonstration of our old engines
and equipment at the Foster fields Farm. We have been doing the
show annually ever since, and it is now our annual show site. Gioia
Webber, the Historic Programs Specialist at the farm, has been most
helpful in making sure that both exhibitors and spectators alike
have a good day at the farm. A big round of thanks also goes to all
of the staff who have helped with the show over the years.

Little did I guess that Foster fields wasn’t through with me
yet, I was to be given a new challenge to work on!

In October of 1995, I received a call from Keith Bott, Historic
Sites Manager for the Morris County Park Commission. Keith called
me to set a date for our 8th annual show at the Foster fields Farm
Site so that he could prepare the information for a press release.
I told Keith that I would return the selected dates as soon as we
held our monthly meeting and approved a date. Keith asked me if I
work on my own restorations on engines I display. ‘Yes, I
do,’ I replied and gave him some of the background on a few of
my projects, including the work I had done on the engines at the
Farm. He told me that he had a possible donation to Foster fields
that he was going to look into and asked if I could give him some
advice on it? I told him that I would try to help, if I could.

In December I called Keith with the confirmation of our show
dates, and he told me that the donation he had mentioned was a
Silver King tractor of approximately 1937 vintage. The tractor had
been used until 1981 by a neighbor of the farm, who then died. The
machine sat idle for 15 years inside a garage, along with many of
its implements. Keith also told me that a snow-plow was mounted on
the tractor.

A few days later Keith called me again and we set a date in
January, 1996, to go and have a look at the old Silver King.
Unfortunately, the date we chose also happened to be the day the
big blizzard hit the East Coast! I had up to 18 inches of snow,
with drifts up to three feet in the backyard. I called Keith at
Foster fields on January 16th, and asked him if he still needed my
help with his project. He asked me where I was on the day we had
set and I told him ‘shoveling snow.’ He laughed and said
that he had gone to take a look at the tractor. It was indeed a
Silver King, and it had a four cylinder engine on it. The engine
was seized tight and he felt there wasn’t much hope for it. I
told him that I would take a look at it anyway, to see if it was in
any condition to rebuild, or if it was salvageable or not. I asked
him when we could go take a look at it. He said, ‘How about
now?’ and over to Foster fields I went.

I met Keith face to face for the first time at the visitors
center and we hitit right off. He seems to be enthusiastic about
the various Park programs he is responsible for, however, it seemed
that some of that enthusiasm had been lost, as far as the old
tractor was concerned. Keith explained on the way over to where the
tractor was stored, that a friend of his had told him to forget the
Silver King, as parts were hard to find, and it wasn’t worth
the trouble to rebuild. I told him, ‘Well, let me take a shot
at it. It can’t hurt. Let’s see what we have before we give
it up.’ We pulled to a stop in front of a neat little carriage
house that doubled for a garage. As we walked to the left side of
the garage, Keith told me that when he first went to look at the
tractor, it had been buried under a pile of wood and debris and it
had taken two trips with a big dump truck to get rid of the junk.
After all of the junk had been pulled off the tractor, the men
left, and this was the first time he had been back to look at

Keith had figured to take the spark plugs out and load the
cylinders with kerosene and oil to try to loosen the stuck pistons,
but if that didn’t work, he would abandon the effort to repair
the unit. We opened the left side door and looked inside. To the
left of the open door sat a fairly new large John Deere garden
tractor, and to the right, there was the old Silver King! However,
it was no longer silver with the exception of the engine and the
frame, the body was now a deep green! Keith looked kind of
downhearted as he gazed at the old relic, but he said, ‘Well,
maybe we can get it going.’ At this I began to take a closer
look at the old tractor.

The first impression was, ‘Man, look at this mess!’
Covered with dust and debris, battery swollen and dry (the old tar
top 6-volt variety), rotten wires all over the place, 2 flat tires
(right rear and left front totally flat the right front nearly so),
boy what did I get into now, I thought! As I studied everything in
view, I began to take in details that seemed to say, ‘Here was
a man who worked like me!’ The debris on top of the hood turned
out to be ahomemade battery charger, including a set of huge
diodes, used as a rectifier. Also the wiring on the left side of
the engine was actually part of an old charcoal grill
grill-starter, that did double duty as a manifold pre-heater! I
also found that an automotive style flywheel had been added to the
back side of the PTO pulley, and that a Delco inertia drive
electric starter had been carefully mounted in place, to turn over
the engine. Along with the starter, a generator was also installed,
along with its regulator. An old amp meter and voltmeter had also
been installed to monitor battery condition. All of these
‘improvements’ were well thought out when they were added.
I later learned that the gentleman who ran the tractor had added
all of the ‘extras’ himself.

As for the basic tractor, the sheet metal was in good to
excellent condition, with just a little surface rust present.
However, the radiator screen was rusted out on the left, probably
as a result of the radiator having a short overflow pipe. Except
for being flat, the tires seemed to be okay. The engine had some
surface oil on it but it did not seem to have any major leaks. The
crankcase was full of oil, and it looked like new. At this time, I
told Keith that it would be worth looking into, as it seemed that
the tractor was well cared for. I told him that my main concerns
were the stuck crank and the lack of water in the radiator.

I didn’t bring any tools with me so, after the quick look
over, we shut the door and went back to the farm.

I arranged another date with Keith to go back to actually begin
working on the old tractor. The next Saturday, I loaded my car with
my tools and supplies and headed back to Foster fields Farm, at
9:00 a.m., to see what I could do.Keith was unable to go over to
the tractor with me because of another project he was involved with
at the time, so I told him that I would go over to the garage
myself. I also let him know that I would tell him what I found when
I was finished. When I arrived back at the carriage house, I
cleared a 15 foot widepath to the door through 10 inches of snow in
order to get my car up close to the doorway. The weather looked
threatening, but it didn’t snow any more. However, it stayed
cold outside, about 25 degrees F.

The first thing I did, after I got all of my stuff unloaded, was
to remove the 4-18 mm spark plugs. I filled a one pint oiler with a
mixture of Marvel Mystery Oil and Gas. I put equal amounts into the
open spark plug holes on top of the pistons. Then I turned my
attention to the carburetor. Thankfully, thefuel valve on the gas
tank filter bowl had been turned off, keeping the gum down to a
minimum. With the fuel flow cut off, there was only a little gum in
the bottom of the fuel bowl of the carb, and with the help of some
Berkbile 2+2 carb cleaner, it was soon all cleared out. I
disconnected the fuel line from the gas tank filter and, with the
drain plug removed from the carb fuel reservoir, the little bit of
gum and varnish was flushed out with more 2+2. The fuel tank itself
will be another story, though, it will have to be removed and the
inside will have to be boiled out by a professional, as the tank
has 15 years worth of gum and varnished fuel in a viscous mess
about an inch thick in the bottom. Since the tank itself is riveted
to the hood sheet metal, this will be a major job to accomplish at
a later date.

The next items I attacked were the wiring system and the
battery. I disconnected the battery at the terminals and removed it
from its homemade mounting, above the PTO pulley, on the right side
of the tractor. I set the battery on the floor and looked it over
for cracks. Although the battery was swollen it wasn’t cracked
and I filled the three cells with water. Then I hooked my 6-volt
charger to the battery and turned it on.

The next item that caught my attention was the magneto. At some
time in the past, the mag must have given the owner some trouble
and so he rectified the problem his way. The American-Bosch mag
must have had an internal fault. It had been altered so that the
high tension power, usually supplied by the mag, could be supplied
from an outside source. The points still supplied the low tension
make and break, but the high tension was now supplied by an
automotive style coil. Thus the mag still provided the timing and
the proper spark distribution, but the energy was now supplied by
the battery instead of the mechanical activity of the mag itself.
As the rest of the wiring appeared to be intact, although the
insulation was a bit rough, I proceeded to the next step, the stuck

I had brought along, with my tools, an automotive flywheel
turning tool that I used when I worked at a service station many
years ago. Just for fun, I put it on to the jury rigged flywheel on
the tractor, and gave it a yank. I never thought that the wheel
would turn on the first try without some drastic force applied, but
move it did! A whole inch!

At first I thought the tool had slipped on the teeth of the
flywheel, so I reversed the puller and turned the wheel in the
opposite direction, while watching the fan and harmonic balancer at
the other end of the engine. This time the wheel moved two inches,
and so did the fan and pulley!!! I reversed the puller once again
and then pulled the engine through one complete revolution.
Although the engine was stiff, it did not seem to be binding, and
luckily, I had started turning the engine in the correct direction
to begin with! At this point, the engine still would not turn with
its starter hand crank. I decided to try something else to turn it

Something else turned out to be the 12 volt battery in my car, a
1988 Plymouth Voyager. I made sure that I could isolate the starter
motor from the rest of the tractor’s electrical system, and got
out my set of Sears heavy duty jumper cables. I hooked the cables
to the battery in the conventional manner, but reversed the
polarity on the tractor. The positive cable went to the ground side
of the starter motor, and the negative went to the starter motor
power post, which was on the top of the starter, bypassing the
starter solenoid. As the circuit was completed, the starter motor
began to turn. As it built up speed, the inertial clutch engaged,
and the motor began to turn over the tractor engine. Now the engine
began to turn over faster and faster, until the maximum speed of
the starter motor was reached. I disconnected the starter, and the
starter motor stopped very quickly. The engine crank itself kept
turning for another six or seven seconds after the starter had
stopped. I knew now that the crank was good and free. I still
didn’t know about the ignition system or the valves yet,
though. Now it was time to try to actually start the engine.

I disconnected the battery charger from the tractor battery, and
hooked them onto the battery post terminals on the tractor itself.
I made sure that the terminals could not short against the tractor
frame, with a piece of cardboard, too. Using the starter motor to
turn the engine by turning on the ignition switch, I found that the
ignition system was still in working order. As the starter motor
was still running, I disconnected the battery charger leads, and
let the starter turn the engine for about two minutes. As it was
turning, I observed the oil pressure gauge and noted that it read
20 psi. When the two minutes were up, the starter was shut off and
I got ready to try to start the engine.

First, I made up another pint can full of the Marvel oil and gas
mixture, and again put equal amounts into the spark plug holes. I
reinstalled the plugs themselves. I should note here that when the
plugs were taken out, the forward two plugs were slightly car boned
up and, when they were put back in, I made sure that they were
installed in the rear, so as the engine was run they would clean
themselves. I filled the oiler with straight gas and proceeded to
fill the carb fuel bowl and the fuel line. When this was done, I
gave the carb throat a few shots of gas as a primer as well. Then I
hooked up the starter bypass and the engine began to turn over.

At first the engine only turned and I noticed that I had not
hooked the battery charger to the battery terminals to provide the
ignition power. As soon as this was done, the engine fired one
cylinder. Immediately the slight speed change kicked out the
starter drive, and I had to disconnect the power to the starter.
After several more attempts, I had to shut everything off to refill
the oiler can and the fuel system.

I primed the carburetor once again and tried to start it half a
dozen times, all with the same result it would fire a few times,
throw out the inertial drive, and quit. After the sixth or seventh
try, the engine actually kept firing on a few cylinders after the
starter had disengaged. I am getting close, I thought! Just then,
my old Sears battery charger decided to give up the ghost, with a
real impressive puff of thick white smoke. Oh well, I was so close!
After pulling the plug on the now defunct charger, I decided to use
the 12 volt power supplied by my Voyager to also power the tractor
ignition. After placing a blocker into the generator relay, I
hooked the 12 volt jumper cables directly to the tractor supply
cables, again using the positive ground set up. A note of caution
is due here! NEVER EVER hook a 12 volt battery to a 6 volt battery.
The tremendous voltage and current surge will cause at least the 6
volt battery to explode with extreme violence, causing severe
injury or blindness from sulfuric acid burns. I’ve seen a few
cases where both batteries have blown up, sounding like a stick of
dynamite exploding, and spraying battery acid for 50 feet around! I
primed the carb again and tried the starter button that had been
mounted on the dash. The engine turned over fine, but wouldn’t
make a peep. In about 15 seconds I got the hint, let go of the
starter button, and started going over the electrical system again.
In about another 15 seconds I found the problem. In my haste to
pull off the power earlier, when the charger itself fired, I must
have turned off the ignition toggle switch. Talk about being
embarrassed! I flicked the switch on and it was back to the same
old thing. Fire, kick out the starter, tick over a few more times
and quit.

After several more tries and another fuel system refill, I
thought that, possibly, it was too cold for the fuel to vaporize
properly, seeing as the temperature had not risen above the 25
degrees F, it had started at, all day. On a whim, I decided to plug
in the makeshift manifold heater that I had mentioned earlier.
Amazingly, the element began to heat up very quickly. In about five
minutes, the manifold was quite warm to the touch. I refilled the
fuel system again, unplugged the heater and hit the starter button
once again. The engine turned over and began to sputter and
backfire as cylinders fired and then missed, but the engine kept
building up speed until at one point, I had to release the starter
button, as the engine was now running, although badly, faster than
the starter could spin the crank. When the starter was killed, the
engine, running very roughly, slowed to a stop in about 45 seconds
of running on its own! I again refilled the fuel system and pushed
the starter button. This time as the engine fired up, I opened the
throttle. The engine promptly quit. I tried a third time without
moving the throttle, and the engine again sputtered to a stop in
about a minute, slowing all the while. I refilled the fuel system
again and tried the starter. This time, as the engine fired up, I
advanced the throttle slowly, and the engine actually began to

As the engine accelerated, it began to run more and more evenly
until at quarter-throttle it was quite smooth. I kept accelerating
until the engine reached about half-throttle, when it ran out of
gas. As the engine was picking up speed, all the while, it threw
out the up-turned exhaust pipe a great amount of rust, seeds,
carbon, and oil. I had to pull the hood of my jacket up over my
head to keep the fallout out of my hair. However, all the debris
made a black mess of the ceiling, for about two feet around the

I noticed for the first time that the exhaust pipe had been
extended upwards with a three foot piece of downspout pipe, which
probably kept the exhaust gases away from the operator on a windy
day. I refilled the fuel line. This time, as the engine turned
over, you could hear the individual cylinders hit their respective
compression strokes before the engine fired up. As the engine
picked up speed, it accelerated very smoothly. Then I let the
engine idle and noted that the mixture was way too rich. I refilled
the fuel line as the engine was running, and tried the manual
throttle. The governor appeared to work perfectly, keeping the
engine, at each setting, with ease. I refilled the fuel line with
the rest of the fuel in my oil can and then adjusted the carburetor
mixture screw until the engine ran most smoothly.

After about two more minutes of idling, the engine quit, out of
gas, and I turned off the ignition switch and disconnected the
jumper cables from both the car and the tractor. I didn’t want
to run the tractor engine too long because of the lack of water in
the radiator. At the time the engine quit, it was no longer smoking
and it was running very smoothly. I rechecked the oil and it was
still clean, and surprisingly, did not smell of gas, considering it
had run about a half-gallon of gas through the engine before it was
running smoothly!

At this time, my feet were getting cold as the temperature was
dropping, and I had another appointment to keep, so I collected all
of my tools and supplies and put them in the car. On the way back
to Foster fields, I stopped at the house that belonged to the lady
who was going to donate the tractor, and rang the bell. The
lady’s name is Shirley St James. I told Mrs. St James that I
had gotten the tractor running. She said that she had heard it, but
she wasn’t sure if it was the tractor or the car at the time. I
told her that I had to leave but that I would be back later in the
week to complete the work that was needed. Mrs. St James said that
she would look forward to seeing the old tractor run again and she
hoped that it would work out. Then I drove back to the office at
Foster fields Farm.

I walked into the visitors’ center office and asked if Keith
was in. Gioia told me that he was and his office was around the
corner. I went to his office and said, ‘Keith, can I see you
for a few minutes?’ I could see that he was busy working on his
computer. He said, ‘Sure’ and stood away from his desk. I
offered my hand to him, and said, ‘Congratulations! You have a
running Silver King tractor!’ He stopped shaking my hand for a
second, and said, ‘Uh, what?’ I said again,’ You have a
running tractor!’ This time the words sank in, his eyes got
real big and he said, ‘I do? You actually got it running? When
can I see it? I don’t believe it!’ all in a rush. I
explained to him that the engine was too hot, and besides, I had
another appointment to go to. I also told him there were a few
things to be done before we tried to drive it, but, I would like to
come back and set the tractor up after an extended run.

On Tuesday, the 23rd, we went back to the carriage house and I
unloaded my parts and supplies again. Keith had to leave for a few
minutes and I spent the time setting up the tractor. First, I
inflated the flat tires, using an air tank and compressor that my
wife had given to me at Christmas. I installed a one-gallon fuel
tank from a lawnmower onto the open fuel line on the engine. I also
double checked the electrical system.

As Keith arrived back at the carriage house, I was just
finishing installing the battery that I was going to use to run the
tractor. Earlier in the week, I found that the original battery had
an internal short, probably due to the swollen plates, and it would
not hold a charge. I ended up using a small 12 volt battery that I
had at home, to start and run the tractor. When I was checking the
electrical system, I made sure that the blocker was still set
between the points on the regulator on the 6 volt generator, to
prevent any damage to the generator itself.

Keith watched me fill the small gas tank. As he was still
watching, I pressed the starter button with my hand. The engine
turned over about three or four revolutions and began to pick up
speed until I was idling at a fast idle. I let the engine run for
about two minutes, and then idled it down to the idle stop I had
set a few days before. Keith just stood there fascinated, as the
engine idled very slowly (about 300 rpm), until I shut off the
ignition switch. ‘Wow,’ Keith said softly, then, ‘What
happened?’ I explained that the radiator was empty and I
didn’t want to overheat the engine before putting the coolant
into the hot block. I had thought that, possibly, the radiator had
a leak, or worse, that maybe a casting plug was bad (freeze plug).
I knew the block and head were okay because the oil was so clean,
so I thought that there were only these two options.

Good old Mr. St James proved me wrong again! As we were filling
the radiator, all of sudden, the antifreeze began spilling onto the
ground, very quickly. Almost immediately Keith said, ‘I’ve
got it,’ and just as fast, ‘Nuts!’ As it turned out,
Mr. St James had drained the coolant the last time he had used the
tractor and the petcock had been left open. Keith had seen it from
his vantage point, but had turned the valve the wrong way, causing
it to fall out of the body onto the floor. It was a mad scramble to
stop the coolant from spilling, and trying to reinstall the fallen
part at the same time. We finally succeeded in getting the valve
closed, but not before loosing about a quart of antifreeze. I
walked up to the farmhouse and asked Mrs. St James for a gallon of
warm water to put in the radiator. She seemed glad that someone was
working on the old tractor, and we chatted as we waited for the
bottle to fill. I carried it back to the carriage house and
finished filling up the radiator. I restarted the engine and ran it
at varying speeds for over an hour. As the engine was running, I
tried to put the tractor in gear. The gear shifter would not move!
I idled the engine down and started trying to move the gear
selector by tapping it with a hammer near the base, in order to set
up a vibration in the shifter shafts. The first gear to loosen was
the reverse gear. At least I could move the tractor a little bit
under its own power. By rocking the tractor back and forth, I got
the lubricating oil to get to the shift levers and sliders, and the
rest of the gears freed up in short order. I was then able to move
the tractor both forward and backward in and out of the carriage
house. I tried the brakes, which were controlled by two hand
levers, one on each side of the tractor.

I found that the brakes worked just fine, thank you, but it
takes a lot of getting used to, in order to stop this unit straight
ahead! The Silver King can be turned merely by holding one brake
on, but at a higher speed, applying just one brake you could
possibly flip it! It took several tries before I could stop the
tractor, using the brakes alone, in a straight line.

Keith asked me if the tractor could be driven over to the farm.
I told him that I didn’t see any reason why not, and he said,
‘Let’s go!’ I asked him if we could show the running
Silver King to Mrs. St James before we took it away, and he said
that would be an excellent idea. I started the old tractor and
drove it up the slight incline in the driveway to the Victorian
farmhouse that was her home. I stopped near the side entrance and
shut off the engine while Keith went to ring the door bell. Shirley
came to the door and just stood there for a few seconds, looking at
the tractor standing in the driveway, and then she disappeared from
view. In what seemed to be about a minute, she was back, holding a
camera! As she came down the steps from her home, I started the
tractor’s engine. She listened for a few seconds and then said
that the old tractor didn’t sound that good when her husband
had last run it. She asked Keith to take a few pictures and then
said goodbye. Keith helped her up the stairs, and she watched from
the porch, as the tractor made its slow trip down the driveway from
her home, for the last time.

Going down the drive was an adventure in itself! About halfway
down there was a pile of frozen snow that Keith went around with
his car. I, however, in trying to keep the tractor out of the ruts
left by other vehicles, clipped the snow bank with one of the rear
tires. It was not going very fast, but the tractor spun to the left
as the left tire stopped its forward motion. I grabbed the right
hand brake and pulled hard, stopping the right side tire in its
tracks. This did two things nearly at the same time; first, when
the right wheel stopped, so did the tractor. So far so good.
Second, when the right side wheel stopped, the left side, through
the differentials, began to turn at double speed, not so good. As
the wheel was spinning, it cut its way through the snow and ice
until the tire hit the pavement, at which time the tire got some
traction, causing the tractor to spin to the right. Now I grabbed
the left brake, and yanked that back too, and with both wheels now
locked, the engine quit. I was now working up a sweat driving this
old tractor and I haven’t even gotten it to the road yet! I
collected my thoughts and then restarted the engine. Using a light
touch on the brakes, I managed to get the tractor over the rest of
the snow, and immediately ran into another obstacle in front of me.
The next one was a deep rut to one side of the drive, left by a
large truck. As the tractor went over the hole, I gave thanks that
the ground held, and the machine didn’t fall into it. I figured
that once I hit the road, it would be a piece of cake to drive to
the farm.

The tractor did not handle too badly on the road, in first or
second gear, but third was positively scary! In third, the tractor
developed what I call the ‘weavies’ (an uncontrollable
swerving from side to side, caused by excessive speed, front end
play, and probably low tire pressure as well), at about
half-throttle. With this going on in third, the best I could do in
fourth was little better than just above idle! I didn’t stay at
that speed long though, I merely wanted to see if all of the gears
in the gear box were okay, and that the shifter mechanism was in
good working order. It was! Otherwise, steering wasn’t too
hard, and the biggest problem to me was the unfamiliar braking
system. Stops were fairly quick, as long as you were careful to
apply the brakes evenly, as they had a tendency to lock the wheels
if you pulled too hard. Another problem was to use the both brakes
at the same time, you had to let go of the steering wheel, as there
was no foot brake pedal!

By the time I got the tractor to the main road, I had figured
that between engine braking, and using only one hand brake
judiciously, the tractor could be brought to a near stop very
quickly, and it was the last ten feet that was a handful
(literally!). It took me only about eight minutes to drive to the
parking lot at the farm, and by the time I stopped in front of the
farm Visitors Center, I was pretty confident of my handling of the
tractor. As I was pulling to a stop behind Keith’s car, I
noticed that the engine was not smoking at all and, in fact, was
running quite smoothly, with no noise in the bearings, either. When
I shut the engine off, though, I noticed a lot of steam coming from
the front of the radiator. I got down from the tractor seat, after
setting the brakes, and walked to the front of the tractor to see
where the steam was coming from. When I turned to look at the front
end, I noticed that the steam was mainly where the radiator screen
was missing. I noticed that the water and coolant were not leaking
from the radiator itself, but from the overflow tube. Apparently a
rubber hose was missing, that would lead the coolant to the ground,
between the overflow pipe and the chassis. It must have been
missing for quite a while, as I am sure that this is the cause of
the rusted out screen.

Keith asked me if he could drive the tractor. I showed him the
controls and how they worked, and he operated each a few times to
familiarize himself, and then off we went! He drove the tractor
down to the storage barn and maintenance shop. He didn’t do too
badly, and we parked the tractor in front of the barn. At this time
Bob Fossetta and a. few of the farm crew came out of the building,
and Bob said ‘so this is it, huh?’ We both said

Bob and the crew made room for the tractor inside the storage
side of the building, and I drove it in. Bob said that he would
locate a new 6 volt battery, and I took down the engine serial
number and manufacturer’s information in order to do some
research. Bob and the crew removed the dirty fuel tank in the
meantime, to have it sent out to be cleaned. They also removed the
two snow plows. At a later date I will rewire the tractor, as most
of the insulation is in poor condition. The shop had the fuel tank
about a week.

In the meantime, I had been busy, too. I had placed a call, and
sent a letter to a friend at the engine manufacturer’s offices.
The engine in the Silver King was built by the Hercules Engine
Company, of Canton, Ohio. This is NOT the same company that made
the hit and miss engines, although this company dated nearly back
to the same era. This Hercules Company also made small engines for
agricultural use, but they were of the high speed variety. Hercules
built engines for generators and tractors and also for marine use.
I had originally made contact with my friend at the company, when I
was researching a generator. It was a U. S. Motors 115 volt A.C.
generator that was built in 1943. Its engine was also built by this
company. (See ‘One Man’s Junk,’ October 1993 issue of
GEM, page 26). At that time I received a lot of technical data and
other information from Dave Rollins, at Hercules. I called Dave
once again about the Silver King’s engine.

Dave Rollins is Director of Product Services at the Hercules
Engine Company, P.O. Box 24101, Canton, Ohio 44701-4101. I sent him
the serial number and specifications from the engine’s I.D.
Plate, and asked for some information on the unit. The I.D. Plate
reads: Hercules Engine Model IXB, Bore 3 Stroke, 4′ Firing
Order 1, 3, 4, 2, Valve Clearances-Intake: .006′, Exhaust:
.008′, Engine Serial Number-413320, Hercules Engine Company
Canton, Ohio U.S.A.

I requested the following: (1) Date of manufacture. (2) Is the
Owner’s Manual available? (3) Is an Operator’s Manual
available? (4) Is a Service Manual available? (5) Any other
technical data would be appreciated. Within a week I received a
call from Priscilla Kovacsiss, Warranty Administrator for Hercules,
asking for more information. She told me that Dave was away on
business, but that she would try to locate some of the information
in order to speed up my reply. By the end of the following week, I
had the answers in my hands via a large envelope.

The answers were as follows: (1) The engine was assembled on
March 6, 1937, although the sold data had been lost. (Hercules
usually keeps very good records as to their sales. When I was doing
my research on my U.S. Motors outfit, Hercules dated the engine,
and even told me who had signed for the shipment at the U.S. Motors
factory!) (2) an Owner’s Manual was shipped. (3) An
Operator’s Manual was shipped. (4) A Service Manual was
shipped, along with a listing of local Hercules service locations.
(5) Some other information was also found: Engine HP 16.9 at the
belt, and the engine’s displacement 133 cubic inches.

The tractor is now in basic running condition, but there are
still some things to be worked out. Bob Fossetta has located a new
6 volt battery, and I will install it as soon as I found out if the
Park Commission is going to paint the old tractor, or if it is to
be left in its found coloring. I will, however, have to rewire the
add-on wiring, as the rotten insulation is liable to short out. I
also have yet to find out if the 6 volt generator actually works. I
will check it out after the battery is installed.

I am now looking for an operator’s manual for the Silver
King tractor itself. I am also trying to locate a replacement
muffler for the tractor. I would like to know the location of the
serial number for it. Lastly, does anyone have a parts source for
the Silver King tractors? My most sincere thanks in advance for
your help! As a final note, I will send in an update to GEM when
the restoration project is completed.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines