By Staff
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Engine after restoration.
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Engine before restoration.
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Engine before restoration.
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Engine after restoration.

26 Mott Place Rockaway Boro, New Jersey 07866

I recently purchased an engine from a gentleman from Milford,
New Jersey, who in turn had found it in an abandoned wrecked barn
several years before. He had been out hunting with the
property’s owner when they ran across the old barn. He was told
that when the family had sold off the dairy cows, the barn (that
was in bad shape then) had been abandoned.

When it was found, the engine had been covered with an old
disintegrated tarp and debris from the collapsing building. Some
other equipment was also in the barn, but recovery was impossible
because of the state of collapse of its resting place (it was

The engine is an Alpha DeLaval, Type VA, with a s/n of 6220. The
model and HP were not filled in. The engine was basically sound,
but there were a lot of odds and ends to be repaired before it
would run again. The governor’s top had been removed and
reinstalled wrongly and at that with only two of the four screws
needed. The magneto had no spark (note the unorthodox points
cover!), and the high tension lead had been routed over the exhaust
pipe, which had in turn burned the wire. The magneto drive appeared
to have a broken shaft. The entire fuel delivery system was a mess;
tank mounting screws missing, the tank itself dented, fillcap
frozen in the filler’s neck, tank, fuel bowl and filter full of
gum, as well as the broken fuel line. The carb was also gummed up,
jets plugged and passages corroded; The governor relay arm on the
carb, which was made of white metal, was broken, and the linkage
was missing. One last item: the crankshaft breather check was worn
out and the spring was missing too. Although this seems like a lot
of work, like I said, the basic engine was in good shape.

The first order of business was to remove the fuel tank and the
magneto in order to clean the engine up. These were set aside for
later work. As you can see from the pictures, the tarp and a
liberal coating of grease and grime had protected the engine from
the ravages of the elements. I bought some engine degreaser from a
local NAPA auto parts store, as well as a stiff parts cleaning
brush. What a time saver these were! I mixed solvent as the
directions stated, and wet down the entire engine. After about five
minutes, I took a small paint scraper and loosened and removed most
of the caked-on material. I then re-wet the entire engine, and
using the brush proceeded to wash it off. The degreaser and
brushing removed about 98% of the junk off the engine, leaving a
few hard, dry spots to contend with. Just to be sure, I washed the
engine a third time and then rinsed with water. I used a high
pressure garden hose, which left the engine very clean, and after
about 15 minutes, also very dry; the degreaser makes most solvents
such as gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits etc., water soluble.
That is, they will dissolve in water, leaving no oily residue!

The engine was taken into my garage and then detail cleaned. The
rest of the caked-on material was removed with a knife or a wire
brush. At this time I looked at the abused fuel tank. I carefully
used about 30 PSI of air to remove the big dents, and left the
small ones as is, so as to not create any leaks. If you decide to
use air pressure like I did, use no more than 20 to 30 PSI of
pressure, and make sure the tank is sound, with no rusted or broken
areas. To use pressure, especially on an unsound tank, is to invite
disaster. Remember that with all that area with pressure on it, you
have a potential bomb in your hands if there are any weak spots in
the walls of the tank! If in doubt-NO AIR! I wire brushed the
entire surface of the tank to remove the dried-on gum and the
remaining flaky paint, and found that the fuel outlet was loose
because of a bad solder joint. It must have leaked before because
there was about 3/8 of solder piled up around
the connection. After cleaning out the gum and residue inside the
tank with some Berkbile 2+2 carb cleaner, I managed to loosen the
stuck filler cap which was made of iron.

I rinsed the tank a second time with the carh cleaner, and twice
with water. I then put one of my air lines from a compressor into
the tank and blew air through them for about five minutes. When
this was done, I checked the tank for any fumes or fluids, and
having found none, I proceeded to use a torch to melt off all of
the excess solder from the fitting and the tank.

I found that although the tank was sound, the outlet fitting had
developed a crack from overtightening of the filter assembly, and
it had to be replaced. I retinned the tank and soldered on a
replacement fitting in the original position and the tank was then
set aside to be painted.

It is extremely important that if you decide to do any soldering
repairs to your fuel tanks, for safety’s sake three precautions
must be taken: 1. You must work outdoors. Under no circumstances
should you attempt to heat a fuel tank in a confined space like a
basement or cellar. To do so is to invite disaster in event of a
fire. 2. Extremely Important: The tank must have NO fumes, vapors,
or liquids remaining in or on the tank. Even dried on stuff like
fuel varnish, gums, and paint will burn or even explode in a heated
area. It must have no smell of fuel or solvent before it is to be
worked on. Remember, a one gallon fuel tank full of gas vapor has
the potential power of a stick of dynamite! Be careful! Make sure
your tank is clean. 3. The exterior of the tank must also be free
of any residue, to prevent fire or the creation of fumes. Also, for
a solder joint to be effective, the surfaces to be joined must be
free of any contaminants-in order to make a good tight seal. Piling
a 1/4 of solder on top of a bad joint,
besides looking ugly, probably still won’t do the job. For
those of you who do not have a lot of experience with using a torch
(I am a plumber by trade), it’s best to use a large soldering
iron. This worked fine ‘in the old days,’ and it reduces
the risk of both fire and distortion from excess heat to the tank.
It is also most advisable to have a fire extinguisher on hand just
in case.

After working on the fuel tank, I removed the carb, the valve
rocker assembly, pushers, and the cylinder head cover from the top
of the engine. The spark plug was removed and a small rag was
stuffed into the hole, and the valve springs were taped to prevent
overspray on the springs. The head and cylinder were then sprayed
with Hi Heat Silver Spray paint. After this paint had dried, the
entire painted area was covered with a rag, and the engine was then
painted with Designers Choice Green Enamel. This paint exactly
matched the green paint that was on the engine, which is a bit more
blue and darker than John Deere Green. As a side note: both the
engine ID plate and the oil level plate were covered with wheel
bearing grease before painting. When the paint was dry, the grease
was wiped off and the brass was cleaned up!

I then started to reinstall the removed parts, starting with the
governor. Four new brass screws were polished and installed with
square nuts on the bottom ends to secure the top in place. The
driver arm was polished and put on and new cotter pins were put
onto its support shaft.

The points were cleaned and regapped on the mag, and the high
tension brush spring was replaced, as the original was broken. The
brass name plate-magnet holder was polished in place, as it had
several cracks in it and I didn’t want to take a chance of
breaking it by removing it. The mag is an American Bosch FX 1
ED-21, which has a manually resetable impulse, for retarding and
intensifying the spark for starting. After a good cleaning and
resetting, the mag puts out a neat fat ?’ double spark when it

At this time I looked at the magneto drive shaft. This in fact
was just a support shaft for the drive, and it had just backed off
because of a missing lock nut. The support shaft was undamaged, and
I put it back into its place and installed a new self locking nut
to keep it in place there. As this repair was completed the magneto
was then reinstalled and timed to trip on impulse at top dead
center. One item I haven’t been able to locate is the points
cover-kill switch assembly for the magneto. Currently I have left
the existing ‘cover’ in place, because it keeps the dirt
out. This ‘cover’ is actually a Carters Silver Craft tin
that now is serving double duty. I don’t know how old it is,
but it fits! The hi-tension lead was rerouted and shortened in
order to make it look neater and keep it away from the exhaust
heat. A new Fahnstock bayonet end placed on the end of the lead
finished this repair.

After cleaning the fuel bowl and screen with 2+2, I reinstalled
it onto the repainted gas tank and mounted the assembly back onto
the engine. The original protective felt that was on the fuel tank
mounting strap was ripped and soaked with all kinds of stuff, so it
was removed. I made a new protector out of a piece of
1/8‘ thick cork that I had in my cellar.
Two 1/4 x 20 polished brass screws and square
nuts had the refurbished tank ‘sitting pretty.’

The original fuel line had been run outboard of any other item
on the engine with the exception of the drive pulley. This made it
a prime bump target, and in fact it was. Apparently it had been hit
quite a few times from the damage I saw. The line had been
flattened almost shut in two places, and broken clean through in a
third. One ferrule and nut had been split, and the fuel outlet had
been torn loose from the tank. I decided to repair the gummed up
carb first and to then custom fit the fuel line after the carb had
been remounted.

Repairing the carburetor seemed to be the hardest part of this
restoration project. The carb is a Tillotson MS220. It was a real
mess inside. Besides the gums and residue, water had gotten inside
and made a mess of the passages. It took nearly half a can of 2+2
and about three hours to disassemble it and clean all the junk out.
The idle fuel pick up was a real pain as someone had tried in the
past to remove it, and had buggered up the jet so badly that it had
become jammed about a third of the way down its bore. I could
tighten it, but couldn’t back it out. I ended up grinding a
screwdriver to a sharp edge in order to remove it. After a thorough
cleaning, the rebuilt carb was remounted and a
1/4‘ O.D. copper fuel line was made up
and set close to the engine, both for safety and appearance.

I found an arm for the governor to carb link on another carb I
was using for parts, and I installed it in place of the broken one
on the carb.

The crankcase breather was easy to fix. The valve was worn out,
so another one was made up from an inch and a quarter diameter
fender washer. A new lightweight spring and cotter pin had it
operational very quickly.

I asked a machinist friend of mine, Doug Kimble, to make up a
new rocker support shaft for me and this took most of the play out
of the valve lash clearance for the engine (thanks, Doug). The
exhaust valve was freed with the help of a lot of WD-40 and a few
gentle taps from a hammer. I just turned the valves by hand after
spraying the seats with the WD-40 in order to clean up the seats,
and the engine then had pretty good compression.

After filling the crankcase with oil (2 quarts), and double
checking everything for looseness, I found that I had forgotten to
make up a linkage between the governor arm and the relay arm on the
carb! It really pays to double check everything before start up! I
made a link with a piece of steel wire, and now the engine was
really ready for start up.

I made up a starting crank out of some
1/4‘ iron plumbing parts, and a 3′
piece of ?’ brass pipe. After two turns the Alpha DeLaval fired
up and began to run. At speed or under load the engine suns
smoothly, but at idle the engine refuses to fire at an even pace. I
believe that either an internal part is damaged or the carb may be
damaged, or that the problem is just an inherent defect in the
carb’s operation-that is, that it cannot be made to be any
better because of design limitations. In this case, there is no
idle mixture adjustment, and that may be the root of the

I would like to hear from other Alpha DeLaval VA engine owners
to see if this problem is just my own. Any information on this
engine would also be appreciated. I would like to contact DeLaval
to see if any information is still available, and if there is
I’ll update the GEM when I get the info.

After a little touch up, a nice quiet Nelson muffler completed
the restoration of this ‘found’ engine.

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