Gas Engine Magazine

Brownwall Before And After

By Staff

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.

  • Published on Jun 1, 1988
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