Bee-ing Creative: Build a Gas Engine

Cabin fever leads one collector to build a gas engine from spare parts

| October/November 2011

Sometimes it is just necessary to invent a project, or build a gas engine, when the weather is cold, snow is on the ground and you’re tired of staying inside.


Going through my excess inventory (junk pile), I found a set of Witte flywheels, a John Deere head, Sparta Economy piston and rod, a Fairbanks-Morse governor, and a crankshaft that worked with the Witte flywheels, though I don’t remember what engine it came from. Having a local salvage yard is certainly a big help in developing projects, so I went there looking for more parts. I found a hydraulic cylinder with an inside diameter that was a perfect fit for the Sparta piston, some C-channel for an engine base and cart rails, well pipe to use as the outside water jacket, a pump off a glue machine, a set of self-aligning pillow block bearings from a shrink wrapper and an oiler off an old metal lathe. Then, it was back to the shop with this wonderful “collection.”

Determining the engine base

Step one was to find a crankshaft gear, so I used a Fairbanks-Morse ZC 118 as I also had the cam gear and governor from the same engine.

Next, I worked on the pillow block bearings for use as main bearings, the narrow pulley to be used as a drive source for the water pump, and then the flywheels. Starting there determined the necessary width for the engine base, which was made by cutting two pieces of the C-channel from the salvage yard. I bolted the bearing to the C-channel and I had an engine bed.

Prepping the hydraulic cylinder  

Step two consisted of cutting the hydraulic cylinder to length, which meant using a few calculations to determine the crankshaft throw distance, as well as piston length and combustion chamber size when the piston is top center.

The next job began by cutting a half-inch steel plate to attach to each end of the cylinder, providing a water jacket as well as something to anchor the head. Upon welding one end to the cylinder (head end), I cut a piece of well casing to provide the outside of the water jacket and then welded this to the first plate. Next, I welded the other steel plate to the hydraulic cylinder and then to the well casing.


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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