Brownwall Before And After

| June/July 1988

  • Brown wall engine
    1907 Brown wall engine, the way I found it.
  • Brown wall engine
    The same engine after restoration.

  • Brown wall engine
  • Brown wall engine

2821 East Commerce St. Milford, Michigan 48042

I  just have to tell you about this Brown wall engine shown in the pictures (before and after). The engine is 1 HP, air-cooled, and was made in Lansing, Michigan, around 1914. The name and place of manufacture is cast in the flywheels. Brown wall made engines in 1 to 6 HP from 1912 to 1920.

Now on with the story: I'm quite an auction nut and go to most that offer something of interest and are not more than 100 miles away. I went to this one auction only 10 miles away, back in 1984. A few things of interest were listed. No old gas engines though. I arrived there and after registering and receiving my number I began to look things over. After a while, I wandered out behind several buildings just looking and dreaming of finding something unusual hidden away. I found something! Behind one old barn I found among the weeds, part of an old engine sticking up above the ground! A really rusty dirty looking thing as you can see from the one picture. I could hardly tell right away what it was from the name cast in the flywheel. I located the owner amongst the crowd and asked about the engine. He said it was just a piece of old junk and thought no one would be interested in it. I asked him if he would dig it up and put it out to be auctioned off-he said he would do it. It was lifted up on a wagon rack so it could be seen and finally was up for bids. I got it for a reasonable price as there were only two of us who bid on it. Nobody there seemed to know what it was.

When I got back home and looked this engine over, it looked so bad I nearly gave up on it, what with the stuck piston and everything else frozen up as well. Now this stuck piston was something else again. The little engine was a headless type. I had heard that if a spark plug was replaced with a grease fitting somehow and grease forced in under pressure that the piston would be forced out. Great! I tried this with a pressure grease gun and succeeded in cracking the end of the cylinder loose, instead of the piston.

This engine was headless, but it now needed a head. I cut one out of 1/2 inch steel and after tapping a hole in the middle for a spark plug, I welded this piece on with nickel rod. I'm getting ahead of my story here. Before this, I had to get the piston out. I tried so many things that I can't say that any one of them was responsible for success, but I did get the piston out. I checked all the bearings-they were pretty good. The valves were all rusted to pieces. New valves and regrinding the seats came next, also new rings. The carburetor was a mess but was finally restored. I also had to make a cooling fan. It was a lot of work just cleaning the engine up. All the restoring took several months as it was an off and on thing. Finally everything was fixed, the engine painted ready to start or so I hoped. My favorite son-in-law Roy, stood there watching me with a doubtful expression. I told him it was all set to go. Just a matter of a little choking and a turn of the crank should do it. Bang-go-off she went! With a little carburetor adjusting, it sat there running as smooth as a Singer Sewing Machine. This was the most difficult job of restoring that I have ever done and I have worked on dozens of engines. Respectfully submitted by a 70-year-old engine nut, Robert Gamble.


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