A big guy and a big engine, Portland, Indiana, 1998.
3491 E. Deckerville Road, Cass City, Michigan 48726
Upon hearing about a large hopper-cooled Foos engine in the late 1970s and how derelict it was, I soon put it out of my mind.
About 15 years had passed, and not that I needed another project, but I found myself still thinking about that big Foos.
In August 1991 I went to look at it. The engine had been sitting at an antique shop location since about 1972. Rod and piston were out, as were bearing caps. Gears, governor, ignition and many other parts were missing.
Still, it was a big engine, and I like big engines.
I made a deal with Mr. Bob Ogorek and I brought it home in September 1991. I sat it outside and decorated it with lights at Christmastime 1991.
About the first thing I did was to have a new timing gear made at a local gear shop. Not cheap. I now knew I was in it for the duration. The next year I devoted time to making the trucks. The wheels came from Kansas and were believed to be from a wooden threshing machine.
I contacted Preston Foster, and after he gave me advice and sympathy, he agreed to make the wipe spark ignitor. Now I was really moving.
After a while I was in contact with other collectors, and was getting help with parts, loans and castings from their engines. The cylinder was bored to 10.925 and Joe Sykes fitted the piston and rings. The crankshaft was badly pitted and had to be built up. Main bearings were poured and line bored. Crankshaft counterweights were cracked on both sides. They were welded and hands were attached with screws for additional safety.
Danny Carroll from Tennessee sent me governor castings and blueprints from his 25 HP. Bob Gray from Vassar, Michigan, machined the governor, valves, guides and other parts.
Internal carburetor parts were rotted and gone. Preston helped me with those parts, too. It was 1997 and it looked like it would run after all.
Finally in late March, 1998, I had a 'starting party.' The governor was not yet on and still in primer, but with a few items and correct gas setting it was running nicely. About 50 people came over to see it run.
LP gas was used as a fuel instead of original kerosene-gasoline, as the carburetor bowls and fuel pump were missing.
It runs so well I probably will just leave it. After seven years of much time and money, I believe it was worth it.
The original owners grandson, Brad Powell, lent me a photo showing four new 30 HP engines at the rail yard in Lapeer, Michigan. This engine powered the factory of the Powell Dredge Works in Lapeer, before they had electricity. They used many 30 HP Foos engines on the cable winch of the dredges they built.
This engine weighs 8,500 lbs. with trucks. The flywheels are 68 inches in diameter, 10.925 bore and 18 inch stroke.
I would like to thank all those who helped me on this restoration who are not mentioned. The engine can be seen at Coolspring Power Museum at Coolspring, Pennsylvania.