From Rust-Bucket to Treasure

By Staff
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1425 Kristle Lane Lake Charles, Louisiana 70611

It had been over a year since I bought my last engine, so I was
keeping my eyes open for another one to buy. I had been looking for
a 5 HP Economy/Hercules for some time, and though I had found
several for sale, they were out of my league price wise. My wife
and I were visiting a local flea market when I ran into a friend
who is also a collector of old iron. I told him what I was looking
for. He told me about a collector who had recently bought an entire
collection and most of it was for sale. He only lived about an hour
away, so I took an afternoon off from work and went over to visit
him. Sure enough, he had about thirty engines for sale. Though he
did not have that particular engine I was looking for, there in the
back of one of his sheds was a 1 HP McCormick-Deering M. It was
basically a bucket of rust. In fact, what he had was two engines
with enough parts to make one, excluding the magneto. Now, I’ve
always been kind of partial to the McCormick-Deering M. It’s a
fine engine and has lots of eye appeal. So, I asked him if it was
for sale. He said it was. We agreed on a price and loaded it into
the back of my pickup. As we were loading it, his wife came out and
said, ‘You bought that?’ I said, ‘Sure, this is my kind
of engine.’

The deal consisted of a partial engine and some parts. The water
hopper was cracked and the piston was stuck. One flywheel was
broken with not much more than the hub left. But, included was an
extra crankcase and flywheel. Most of the other parts were there,
but no magneto. The head had already been removed and was partially
disassembled. I knew I had my work cut out for me. So began about
four months of tender loving care.

I began by disassembling the partial engine down to the
crankcase and piston. On closer examination I discovered that the
sleeve was cracked as well as the top of the piston. But I needed
the connecting rod, so I had to get the piston out. Since the
piston wasn’t any good and since I had already located a
replacement, I spared nothing getting it out. I finally broke it
and the sleeve into pieces. Many of the other original parts were
in such bad condition they couldn’t be reused. The water hopper
had a large crack in it, so the original crankcase was retired as a
flower planter.

So began the quest for the many parts I needed to get the engine
back together. There are many people who deserve thanks for helping
me with parts and, in fact, there are numerous stories that could
be told about how each part was obtained. Most of the parts were
located through the Internet, especially the Stationary Engine
List.

The engine was cleaned, sandblasted and painted. As parts came
in, they were prepared and assembled. I bought a rebuilt WICO
magneto for it. After about three months, it began to look like an
engine again. The day finally came when I was ready to try to start
it. I discovered very quickly how critical the timing and needle
valve setting are for this engine. With a little persistence, I was
able to get it to run through a full mixer bowl of gasoline. I was
satisfied, but even at this point I still had replacement parts
coming in, so I partially disassembled the engine to install them.
I also took this opportunity to touch up some of the scratches made
during assembly. At this point I also built the skid for it.

Finishing the engine required a new gas tank and plumbing. Now
the McCormick-Deering M has a fairly complex plumbing system.
That’s one of the things that gives it appeal. It took quite a
bit of bending and re-bending of copper tubing to get the fuel
lines just right. Needless to say, some of the tubing crimped and I
had to start over, but I was finally able to get it right.

The engine now starts easily with just a couple flips of the
flywheel, and runs really fine. I’m looking forward to showing
it at our spring show. By the way, about three months later I found
that 5 HP Economy I had been looking for. This time the price was
right and I bought it. So, I have another restoration project
waiting in the wings.

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