Crankin’ Back

By Staff
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The engine as Jim Brown bought it from his buddy, Bud Morrell. When this photo was taken, a galvanized steel gas tank was being used. Bud had a brass/copper gas tank made (seen at right), which was included in the deal.
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Jim Brown and his wife, Jane, at the 2005 Great Oregon Steam-Up at Antique Powerland in Brooks.
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The engine in its present condition. A Wico EK magneto provides juice to the ignition system.

For the many people who have inquired about
this Monarch engine, this is its story. The nameplate describes
this engine as an 8 HP Monarch, manufactured by the Nelson Bros.
Co. in Saginaw, Mich. for Wallace Corcoran & Co. in Portland,
Ore.

The most significant difference in this engine from the 28 other
engines I’ve owned is that the crankshaft cantilevers about 12
inches beyond the cylinder base, whereas they are typically mounted
directly on top of the base. The flared shape of the water hopper
and base also add to the interest of this engine. This 1,300-pound
engine is throttle controlled, has 36-inch diameter flywheels and
uses a Webster EK magneto for ignition.

Monarch Retrieval

In the early 1970s, my friends, Bud and Loretta Morrell of
Elmira, Ore., with the help of Ernie Boyd of Elgin, Ore.,
discovered the engine with a tree growing between the flywheels on
an isolated section of a ranch in eastern Oregon. The flywheels
were buried in about a foot of dirt and were a little pitted.
Remnants at the site indicated that it had powered a buzz saw.

The ranch owner was initially reluctant to sell, even though a
companion engine had been stolen a few years earlier. However, Bud
was determined, and after several visits, he was able to make the
purchase.

Bud freed the engine from the ground, took it home and brought
it back to life. The longest – and toughest – task was freeing the
piston from the cylinder. This involved pounding, pressing and,
finally, heating the cylinder from the inside. The Monarch has a
5-3/8-by-10-1/4-inch bore and stroke. The restoration also included
cleaning, removing rust, painting, mounting the engine on skids,
fabricating a brass/copper fuel tank mounted outside the base, and
fabricating a muffler from two early gasoline service station bells
that rang as cars drove up to the pump.

Acquiring the Monarch

I was invited to bid on the engine five years ago when Bud,
still the owner, was ready to sell. He held a private, sealed bid
auction between just me and a mutual friend of ours, and I was
fortunate enough to have the winning bid.

As a civil engineer, I’ve always understood that cast iron is
not as strong in tension as it is in compression. On this engine,
the top half of the cantilevered portion of the cylinder is always
in tension. The tension increases each time the engine fires.
Knowing this, I’ve been unwilling to install the
19-1/2-by-8-1/2-inch wide pulley that came with the engine.

I was unable to find a serial number, even after stripping all
the paint off. With the help of my wife, Jane, we chose to repaint
the engine royal blue, black and gold.

Bud previously used a piece of twisted metal to connect the
throttle rod to the butterfly shaft. It was not a snug connection
so I replaced it with a piece of 3/8-inch bar stock, 1-1/2 inches
long. That enables the butterfly to respond more directly to
changes in the governor’s weight movement. With this modification,
Bud realized that I had made the engine run about 30 RPM
slower.

The engine is easy to start. Standing on the left side of the
engine, compression is released by depressing the intake valve with
my left hand while pushing the flywheel with my right hand. Fuel
enters the cylinder after a few revolutions, and when I hear the
spark ignite the fuel, I let go of the intake valve as the
flywheels gain momentum. Then, while not getting in a hurry, I walk
to the rear of the engine and pull the flywheels as the crankshaft
nears top dead center. In almost every case, the engine continues
to run. This engine, without a doubt, is the prize of my
collection. The shape and the name, Monarch, have a regal feel to
them.

We exhibit the engine annually at the Great Oregon Steam-Up at
Antique Powerland in Brooks, Ore., on the last weekend of July and
the first weekend of August (two weekends). The engine is started
in the morning and runs all day during the show. For me, the
rhythmic beat of the engine is intoxicating, peaceful and very
satisfying.

Several life-long engine enthusiasts have told me they’ve never
seen an engine like this (with the crankshaft cantilevered beyond
the base). I have seen manuals that include information on Monarch
engines up to 7 HP, but not 8 HP. I would appreciate learning more
about others’ knowledge of and experiences with 8 HP Monarchs. I’m
especially interested in knowing what years they were made. I feel
fortunate to be the owner of this engine, and, more importantly, I
feel blessed to have Bud and Loretta Morrell as friends.

Contact engine enthusiast Jim Brown at: 3410 Grant St., Eugene,
OR 97405; (541) 345-2122; fortrockbear@yahoo.com

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