Learning and a Galloway engine go together for a beginning engine collector.
Dan Drury of Foreston, Minnesota, has always loved anything mechanical. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve always liked things that move, machines that do things. I remember at a very young age watching my dad take gears out of his Chevrolet, fix them and put them back in so he could go to work the next morning. He would tell me to go to bed, because it would take most of the night. But I was curious. I wanted to watch, so I stayed up with him, but would fall asleep before he was finished.”
Dan, 65, spent a few of his younger years on a farm without electricity that used horse-drawn equipment converted to pull behind a small tractor. “I was kind of raised on that stuff. Even though I was too small to handle it, I took a liking to anything old or anything big.”
Dan’s father, William Drury, was a good mechanic, which helped them keep the old equipment in working order. “When we finally got a pump jack, we used a Briggs engine to pump water for the cattle. Dad knew that we would be typical youngsters, and wouldn’t pay close enough attention to the water in the tank. The engine would pump the well dry. So he would put just enough gas in it to fill the tank, and then the engine would stop.”
Dan spent 33 years working at Federal Cartridge. Most of those years were spent working in maintenance, with a lot of older machinery that was converted to run on new technology. The building was filled with old machines with big flywheels and lots of cast iron. “I was in my glory there. These machines at Federal Cartridge were from the war era, although a few were from 1936-1937. Most were Bliss electrical models.”
The Bliss presses were used in the area where Dan worked to make rifle and pistol cases for different caliber guns. A part would come in the form of a cup, like a thimble, go through one operation to make it a little bit longer and go into the washroom and be run through the annealing process. Then it would be put on another machine similar to the first one, and get a little bit longer to eventually make a pistol or rifle case. It left the machines and came back many times. The cases were made of brass.
Dan would occasionally attend a threshing show and see gas engines running. He was curious about them. “I’d ask, ‘Do you have any more of them at home?’ ‘Do you have any that don’t run?’ I’d mostly get the same answer, that yes, they did.”
As he prepared for retirement in 2011, Dan thought he would attend an auction in Sartell, Minnesota, to look at some of the engines offered there. He found a 2 hp Fuller & Johnson. “I thought it looked kind of cool, so I bought it. I had no inclination to look at the big engines. What would I do with one? Where would I put it?”
As he watched the auction go on for a 1912 7-1/2 hp Galloway engine, he thought they weren’t getting very much for it. “I didn’t know the true value, because that engine didn’t interest me a whole lot. As I listened, I thought, ‘I could kind of afford that.’ I asked the auctioneer what all came with it. I thought it was just the truck the engine was on. I found out it was the whole setup. A trailer with toolboxes and all that had only seen summer weather. I looked at it all, and said, ‘I’m in.’ Two minutes later, I was ready to take it home.”
Dan was surprised at himself. “It was raining, and after I bought the engine, I was walking away and talking under my breath. I said, ‘What did I just do?’ A fellow auction attendee said, ‘What did I hear? What did you just do?’ I told him I had just bought that engine over there with the starting engine on it. That was my introduction to hit-and-miss engines.”
About that time, the engine seller came up to Dan and told him that he was about to buy the Galloway engine back from the auction. But, when he heard that this was Dan’s first engine, he decided to let it go. “I thought that was really nice of him.”
Dan is quite careful with his engines, at least in terms of examining what he has. “I got it home, studied it and nervously anticipated starting it. I rolled it a little bit and looked at things and tried to understand it.”
The previous owner had promised Dan that he would come out one day to help him understand the engine, but Dan was too excited and he wanted to get going. He started the pony engine and got the Galloway running. “I couldn’t get enough of it. I was just fascinated, trying to figure out how the governor worked and the igniters worked. I had more questions than answers.”
Dan had read old Galloway advertising claims on how even a teenage girl could start this engine, so he thought, “So can I.” That meant starting it without the pony engine, a 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hp International Model LB. “It is a nice little International engine that runs great and starts like nobody’s business, but it didn’t belong on the Galloway. It had been added, because a previous owner could no longer start it by himself. I wanted to start the Galloway without it, but I was beside myself trying to figure out how to start it without the pony engine on it.”
Like many engines over 100 years old, the Galloway needed some work. “I had to learn about the timing, because it kicked me back a couple of times. After studying it one evening, I figured out that I had to move the timing. That made me nervous, because I could not find a single timing mark on it. I put some paint on the gear, so if I had to go back I wanted to know where I had to go back to. About three hours later, after playing around with the timing, I got it started and running. It sounded pretty good.”
The next day, at the Nowthen (Minnesota) Threshing Show, Dan got a number of comments about the engine, with a number of people wondering if it was the same Galloway that used to have a pony engine on it. People had seen it at different shows and recognized it. One person helped Dan with the valve timing at the show. He said it was pretty good, but was a little bit off. “He talked me through it so I could tweak it,” Dan said. Now, it mostly runs well.
Dan says he keeps learning more and more about his engines, including important lessons like disconnecting the battery every time he walks away from it. The Galloway’s ignition is an igniter with coil and battery. Once, he set up at a show and hadn’t yet uncovered it when he went to set up the shelter and get his other pair of smaller engines. At this point, supper was offered. He left the show for the evening, and upon returning the next morning, he was told the engine started smoking a few minutes after he left. It burned a hole in the cover, but luckily, beyond having to clean the yellowing from the fire extinguisher, that was the extent of any damage.
“It’s a lesson I will remember. Always disconnect the battery. This led me to ask a lot of questions. I got filled in with a lot of details. I just sort of reverse-engineered the coil, took it apart, measured everything and started over. That was kind of a neat experience. Not that I wanted the fire, but the experience of recovering from that and building a coil from scratch was kind of interesting. I enjoyed that.”
While Dan had things apart he fixed a small water leak, and took care of a knock in the connecting rod by making a new bushing. With it apart, Dan figured he might as well clean the cylinder head and figure out what he needed for gasket material. While that was apart, he took the carburetor off, if only because it was right there, and went through that, as well. Unfortunately, after that, it didn’t run well. “I thought I might have knocked something loose. Later, I pulled the carburetor off and looked. I didn’t see anything. I went through and cleaned it up, and it’s run like a clock ever since.”
While he was working on it, Dan noticed that an extra spring was holding the trigger for the igniter. He knew it didn’t belong. “I studied it, trying to figure out why it had to be there. I don’t like to just tear something apart, especially delicate stuff. What if I break something? Eventually, I got up the nerve and pulled the igniter out and studied it. There was enough wear inside the igniter that it wouldn’t pull the igniter through and make it snap like it should. I took the backup spring off and it wouldn’t start and wouldn’t fire. By a process of trial and error, I got it fixed with only one spring. The governor on the Galloway is a mechanical spring weight on one flywheel.”
The history of Dan’s Galloway is unclear, although Dan knows he is the fourth owner of the engine. “I have a picture of it before it was restored on the original cart. The engine originally came from South Dakota. The drive pulley on the Galloway is very large. I don’t know what they needed to run with a pulley that large. I’ve asked many people, and have received a variety of answers, from running a line shaft to a saw rig, or perhaps a very small sawmill. I think it was very likely on a saw rig.”
The 1912 Galloway isn’t a common engine in this part of the country. “I’ve seen a lot of different Galloways, larger or smaller, but I’ve never seen another 7-1/2 hp. People tell me that this engine, with a round rod instead of the beam style, is more desirable than the others. The round rod was a predecessor to the beam style,” Dan says.
The part of the Galloway that Dan likes least is its tendency to be stubborn. “It is 103 years old, and occasionally it will get a stubborn streak and won’t start right off. Afterwards it will usually settle down and then straightens out, as a rule,” Dan says, although he remains philosophical about it all. “The engine is old, and it’s earned the right to be stubborn. I’m usually more inquisitive about figuring out why it isn’t starting than worrying about it. I do worry about something going wrong with the engine, but I keep it well lubricated. The other thing I don’t like is to have to cover it up and put it away for winter. In the summer, I can go down to the shed at any time and start the engine for the fun of it.”
Besides the round rod and the large pulley, another oddity about this engine is a spot on the cylinder with Roman numerals on it. Stamped in and clear coated over, the numerals are 1-inch high by 2 inches long. “I haven’t been able to find anybody who will give me an idea of what that’s all about. It must have been done in the factory,” Dan says.
The Galloway stands out nicely at the shows. Dan says, “It sets up nice and proud on that trailer, like it should be. That makes me feel good. I didn’t restore it. This is the way I purchased it. My wife is tickled pink about this engine. It is her favorite. I still enjoy learning little things about it and asking people what they might know about this or that. Sometimes I get a lot of different answers for the same question, but that’s okay. I just sort them out.”
Dan likes the little International LB engine, as well as his 2 hp Fuller & Johnson. “I’m pretty proud of all the engines I have, but I’m torn between knowing that a lot of smaller engines would be easier and you could have a whole bunch of them. I still like the larger ones. At some point, I might start looking a little more to find a different type of larger engine. It would be nice to have a different brand, so I have something else to learn about. I see these sideshaft machines, and I’m curious about some of those. Maybe I can get one of those someday. I wouldn’t mind having another engine. But even for a person like me, who didn’t restore these engines, there’s still quite a bit of work on them. There’s a lot of excitement about getting into that. I guess you have to have a real desire to own it, respect it and take it out to let people have a glimpse of that history.
“I have a lot of respect for all of the old farming stuff. You look at what it did for farmers. They didn’t have it, then, suddenly, they had an engine. They could saw wood or operate the cream separator with an engine. I remember cranking a cream separator by hand, so I have a lot of respect for all of those engines. They’re cool. There’s a lot of opportunity to learn more about old engines and equipment.”
Contact Bill Vossler at box 372, 400 Caroline Ln., Rockville, MN 56369 • firstname.lastname@example.org