First Things

By Staff
1 / 5
2 / 5
3 / 5
4 / 5
5 / 5

Box 55, Nineveh, New York, 13813

I love old engines no matter what kind they are. Anytime I see
one in the scrap pile the gears begin to turn in my head. I hate to
admit it, but I think those gears are a little out of time with the
rest of the world. Anybody in their right mind would have left this
piece of antiquity, that I picked up from my very good friend
Harold Merrin, the local junk man, stay in the pile of junk where I
found it.

At first glance I thought that it was an old compressor, then I
spied the carburetor. The first thought that came into my mind was
that it was an old Maytag. I have my doubts about this, there were
other two cycle engines made besides Maytag. It’s a two cycle
all cast iron engine with a brass carburetor and timer. I don’t
think Maytag ever made an upright engine, but who knows.

I keep looking for clues and markings, but have never found
anything that gives me the remotest idea of who made the engine.
The only thing I know is that it is very old and was made before
magnetos. It has a timer and ignition system that works off a buzz
coil. I have the buzz coil and some of Lee Pedersen’s high
tension wire, so I don’t think the ignition will be a problem.
I don’t think that very many of these engines were made.
Although the brass connecting rod was cast, it also shows hand work
like it was one of a kind.

It was a life or death situation with me. I just had to restore
this lovable hunk of old iron or die trying. The water in the
cylinder had been there a long time and the iron piston was welded
to the cylinder. It was an impossible situation, even thinking
about it was ridiculous.

Remembering the days of the old gasoline blowtorch gave me the
bright idea of firing up an old one I had. I knew better than to
use my acetylene torch. The old blowtorch worked great, it gave me
heat all the way around the cylinder.

The heat was not enough, I couldn’t free up the piston with
heat alone. This didn’t daunt me, I remembered the days when I
was a mechanic in a ready-mix plant. We always had around twenty or
thirty 55-gallon drums of muriatic acid, which was used to clean
the hardened cement out of the ready-mix trucks. Contrary to, or
should I say, in violation of OSHA laws, we mechanics had our own
little five-gallon can or section of a 55-gallon drum with muriatic
acid to clean our parts. They were plastic, of course. When they
soaked long enough they came out looking like they had been

I have been away from the ready-mix plant for years and
didn’t have access to their muriatic acid. I got over this
obstacle by using a gallon of muriatic acid of the type they use
for swimming pools. It worked.

To finish up the work of muriatic acid I tried using emery cloth
to polish the bottom of the cylinder below the piston; this was
something else again. The connecting rod was in the way. I was
performing a finger bruiser operation. I had the cylinder cleaned
on top of the piston and on the bottom but not where the piston was
stuck in the cylinder.

Now comes the tricky part. I oil up with light winter oil the
cylinder above and below the piston. This helps more than you know
when the piston is being forced out with grease. It didn’t take
much pressure to move the piston from its original position. That
was the easy part.

The spark plug hole was a half-inch pipe thread. This was ideal
to reduce down to a ? inch, the thread on a grease fitting. It took
three standard pipe bushings, some people call them reducers to do
the job. It was just like greasing a normal grease point. I watched
the piston slowly move down the cylinder to the exhaust port where
it stopped and the grease started coming out the exhaust port. The
piston was no longer frozen, but it was still stuck. It refused to
budge by hand. At this time I had another idea and plugged the
exhaust port with a ? inch pipe plug. This worked great until the
piston got down to the intake port where it stopped again. The
grease came out the intake port and there was no way that I could
plug the intake hole, it was neither round or square. My next
thought was to tap the piston back and start over again. This
wasn’t too difficult but in the process the piston was setting
up again. I couldn’t drive it back in again the second time. I
soaked the piston in acid a couple more days waiting for another
idea. This time I decided to make a puller. This proved quite easy
and successful. It laid the piston on the bench for me.

The puller was very simple to make. I took a piece of ? inch
iron about 5 x 8 and with the acetylene torch cut about a 2? inch
hole in it just large enough for the flange on the cylinder to fit
in the hole. Next I took two 4-inch pieces of ? inch square stock,
drilled and tapped four 3/8 inch holes at the
ends to take long threaded bolts. With the
5/8 rod through the connecting rod I had my
puller. It was a simple matter to put the two pieces of square
stock under the 5/8 round stock in the rod, turn the bolts and pull
the piston.

When the piston came out, I discovered it was gummy and the
rings were badly stuck. More soaking to free the rings. I got the
compression ring with no problem, the oil ring was a disaster, it
was so fragile it broke in several pieces. I don’t think the
rings will be a problem. They can make rings for a 2-inch

What puzzles me is why a three ring piston in a two cycle
engine? I don’t understand the oil ring. I can see no function
for it. The piston isn’t even drilled for oil.

I close my story now with a lot of parts laying on the bench. It
will be a long time before I have this little jewel running. I
don’t think it’s right to leave all of those other iron
nuts dangling in mid-air. I know how they love to give advice. At
this point, I have a conversation piece. I have had experience
before with an old air compressor somebody tried to make into an
engine. My friend dug it up with his loader where it had been
buried for no telling how many years. It was beyond salvation. I
sent the picture into GEM where I received more questions than
answers, but one old gentleman was not fooled. He knew the make,
year and model of the air compressor. It really was a homemade
engine. I question whether it ever ran. It had a wooden camshaft
and other homemade gadgets.

I would like to be able to display this little jewel at the
Southern Tier Antique Engine Show in Maine, New York the third
weekend in August. If it’s not assembled I can still take it in
a box.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines