Restoring a Briggs & Stratton Model FH Gas Engine

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I have always liked old Briggs and Stratton antique gas engines and own a small collection. Among those in my collection, I especially like the kick-start and crank-start models. Looking for a Briggs Model FH with overhead valves that I could restore myself, I only seemed to find them already restored and carrying a golden price, or I found junkers.

Last fall, however, I was lucky enough to find a Model FH kick-start that fit my purposes. It’s the more-common ‘straight-fin’ type with pot metal carburetor, but that’s just fine with me.

This engine was complete and in fair condition, but it didn’t run and had many small things wrong with it. After a good cleanup and some minor repairs, I had it running nicely, but it seemed to use too much oil. I discovered it was leaking oil, enough that I had to top it off every time I wanted to run it.

I remembered an article in a past Gas Engine Magazine about a similar engine that had the same problem. The owner found pinholes had rusted through the sump. Yet, I hadn’t seen any when I washed the sump and cleaned the oil pump.

Not sure what the problem might be, I tore the engine down again, looked very close and discovered … you guessed it, pinholes. I had missed them when I cleaned everything the first time. It goes to show how fellow collectors and the Gas Engine Magazine can be such a valuable resource.

I carefully ground down the spot, applied a little J.B. Weld and coated it with gas tank sealer.

This engine runs quite well now, and other than minor repairs and paint, it’s a fine example of American workmanship. Briggs & Stratton sure built good engines – and still do. After almost 75 years, this little Model FH is still ticking.

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