ALWAYS READY

By Staff
article image
George G. Scott
Twin engines of 800 HP

15023 Pepperwood, Omaha, Nebraska 68154

Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.’ So read the
motto of that mail-order giant, Montgomery Ward & Co. , after
the turn of the century. It must not have been an idle saying, as
they’re still in business today. Some early information I have
on the company from that same era states that their employment
reached as high as 3,500 people. Their building, located at the
corner of Michigan Avenue and Madison Street in Chicago, was
powered by twin engines of 800 HP just to serve their own lighting
and electrical needs.

We tend to take for granted the tremendous impact these huge
catalog houses had on American rural life during the first half of
this century. Their catalogs both educated the public as to the
ever changing cornucopia of merchandise available, and provided a
convenient outlet for purchasing. Even the most spectacular Grand
Openings of new stores today pale in comparison to the thrill of
receiving the new ‘wish book’ in the farm mailbox. The
scope of merchandise sold was boundless- hardware, soft goods,
toys, houses, even gas engines. Sears sold gas engines, the best
known being the ‘Economy’, manufactured by Hercules. Ward,
likewise, sold many Sattleys through their outlets.

According to Wendel’s Encyclopedia of American Gas Engines,
Ward offered the Newark Engine line prior to the Sattleys, and even
before that, an engine called the ‘Always Ready’. This
Always Ready was manufactured by the Burtt Mfg. Co. of Kalamazoo,
Michigan. It’s the same as their ‘Kalamazoo’ engine,
and was built in 2 HP and 5 HP sizes. Since I haven’t been able
to find any reference to either of these engines in back issues of
GEM that I looked through, I presume neither company sold very many
by either name. Maybe Montgomery Ward discovered too little
‘satisfaction’ and too much ‘your money back’, and
found a different source.

In any event, I’m pleased to say that I now have one of the
2 HP Always Ready models. Harold Green located this engine near his
home in Avoca, Iowa, and passed on to my family the opportunity to
buy it as a surprise for me, Christmas last. It came in original
condition, and seemed to be missing only the push rod for the
exhaust valve. Given the years of neglect it had suffered, we
considered it in pretty good shape.

The engine has a cylinder barrel bolted to the crankcase, with
openings in the top for individual intake and exhaust valve
assemblies to set in. The valves are then clamped down with a
single stud bolt. It’s a hit and miss engine, with the governor
and cam mechanism mounted outside the crankcase. Cooling is by
percolation through an external water tank. Gas is gravity fed
through an Essex carburetor, with regulation of both air and gas.
Another feature is heavy counterweights bolted onto the crankshaft
inside the enclosed crankcase.

This is an upright engine, with the only apparent lubrication
being accomplished with a drip oiler on one side of the cylinder
wall. This must have been intended to oil the cylinder, as well as
provide enough ‘splash’ to lubricate the rod bearing and
the wrist pin. To help channel the oil to the wrist pin in the
piston, it looks like the manufacturer rotated the I-beam shaped
rod 90 degrees from normal, such that the plane of the web lines up
with the wrist pin. I don’t believe this system provided
adequate lubrication, and was a serious design flaw with the
engine.

When we tore down the engine, we found that the wrist pin
bearing had, predictably, gone out. The enterprising owner had
taken care of the problem, however. He simply poured in a little
more babbitt, and soldered up the wrist pin tight to the rod. That
probably looked okay to him, since he threw away the set screw and
let the pin turn freely in the piston. Roger Mohling at Beatrice,
Nebraska got us out of that one; he bored the rod and the piston,
then made a new pin. Roger also helped with the valves, and found
us new rings. We also found the main bearings were shot, and Tom
Page, our auctioneer friend in Council Bluffs, helped my son pour
new ones.

Without the help and advice of our friends who work on this old
iron, we’d probably never get these engines going again. Thanks
to many of them, this ‘Always Ready’ is now ‘almost
ready’. We really do plan to have it running when next
summer’s show season hits. And I guess I should clear up
another point: I’m satisfied, and don’t want my money
back!

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