Backus: The Sequel

Or You Want Engines? Here Are Engines!

| March/April 2000

Starting Party

3 Edna Terrace, New Hartford, NY 13413,

I was preparing to go and visit Wayne Grenning to help him with his latest model project, a 1/3 scale model of his 5 HP electric lighting Otto, when he mentioned that Stiles Bradley was going to start the 14 HP Backus he had recovered earlier on in the summer, and was I interested in going? Indeed, I was! The time was set for Sunday, October 31, 12:00 noon, at Stiles' place in Pavilion, NY. I arrived to find many die-hard engine folks in attendance, including the wrecking crew (see Nov 1999 GEM, page 14). Stiles has what I consider one of the best private engine collections in the Northeast.

Stiles and Craig Prucha had been hard at work getting the engine in operating condition. The flat valve seats were ground, and new rings were needed to replace the worn originals. The engine was also given a general cleaning up to get the river silt off it and to clean up the gears and head. Not much else was needed, since the engine was in very good mechanical shape to begin with. As soon as Sunday noon arrived, Stiles and Craig prepared the Backus for starting. The pump was primed, the mixer was pumped up, wiring, cooling etc. was all in order. The engine was soon oiled and ready to go. Stiles and Craig grabbed hold of the flywheels, and the Backus soon barked to life after 50 years idle.* Photo 1 shows the moment of starting.

Upon seeing the Backus out in the sun, some interesting features became noticeable. The pendulum governor is mounted on a tube, which moves back and forth with the motion of an eccentric on the cam gear. This also operates the ignition circuit breaker, fuel pump, and fuel valve on the mixer, when it's engaged by the governor. The exhaust valve pushrod goes through the tube and is operated by a normal cam, which is also on the cam gear. This keeps the exhaust and governor action timed properly. Photo 2 shows the details. Also of note is a cylinder patch riveted on by an old tyme blacksmith. The engine ran until the battery died.

Attention was then turned to some of the other engines in the shed.

*This isn't entirely true: The engine was briefly started the day before for some admirers who couldn't attend the official starting.