I Like A Challenge

By Staff
article image
Stephen Upham

P.O. Box 615 Whately, Massachusetts 01093

Stephen Upham of PO Box 615, Whately, MA 01093,. sent this
picture of his 8 HP 1906 International with hot tube burner, which
was a real basket case.

Most engine enthusiasts would not have tackled a project like
this, but that’s what I like. I have worked on a few
challenging engines before, just not one missing so many

I had purchased an engine about ten years earlier, from a farmer
who had a small collection, one of which was a large engine all
apart, off in the woods. One day while out for a drive, I stopped
in to see the farmer again. He remembered me, and we talked for a
while about engines, tractors, and the weather. I asked if we could
take a closer look at the large engine and he agreed. When we got
to the remains of the engine, the main frame was tipped up on its
side. The flywheels and crankshaft were about five inches in the
ground, and the cylinder, head, piston and rod, which were rusted
together, were upside down-about ten feet away. When I rolled the
cylinder over, cast on the side of it was International
Harvester Company.
With a small wire brush, I found the serial
number, which was B597-a 1906 8 HP.

I am sure that all die-hard IHC collectors know this model is
supposed to be a portable engine, but I’ll get to that

Upon further inspection, I noticed the top of the cylinder was
drilled and tapped for hot tube ignition, which only early IHC
engines were equipped with. I have always liked IHC engines, and to
find one with hot tube ignition was extra special. However, many
important parts were missing, including the cam gear, fuel pump,
main bearing caps, ignitor, tag, mixer and rocker arm. But, I still
knew I needed this engine. I made an offer to the farmer, and after
several days we agreed on a price. He told me when he acquired the
engine it was on the original trucks, which a mutual friend of ours
needed. They had disassembled the engine because it was too heavy
to be removed in one piece.

When I picked up the engine, we rummaged around his barn and
were fortunate to find the mixer, cam gear, compression release
cam, and the fuel pump linkage.

The first order of business when I brought the engine home was
to put it back together and get it on a sub-base. I was not going
to make our friend sell me back the original trucks.

I contacted David Frasier of Virginia, and he had a sub-base,
both main bearing caps, and a new set of rod brass castings. I also
contacted Murray Wallace of Ontario, who had a rocker arm,
pedestal, and an ignitor eccentric. David and Murray have
impressive IHC collections and both are knowledgeable about these

Being a machinist and having access to a full shop are blessings
on a project like this. I removed the piston, using hot water in
the water jacket and a hydraulic press. When I got the piston out,
the inside of the cylinder resembled the lunar surface, so I had it
bored at a local shop. I shipped the piston to Niagara Piston Works
to be sleeved and to have new rings made. I machined new valves and
guides and made new high head nuts and bolts. I pulled the
flywheels, and machined all the rust pits out of the crankshaft
throws. I also turned and polished the connecting rod and all the
other machined surfaces on the engine. I was able to find a cast
iron ignitor (which needed rebuilding), new fuel pump, and a good
clutch pulley.

Everything came together so quickly once the project got under
way. I obtained an authentic IHC crank guard and I cast a new pot
muffler from an original. I found the correct Michigan oiler and a
reproduction brass tag at the summer engine show in Coolspring,
Pennsylvania. Another friend made patterns to cast hot tube
chimneys, so I bought one and it fit perfectly. The cooling tower
was made from an old galvanized compressor tank. This engine had no
water pump provisions, therefore it used a thermosyphon cooling
system. I made the skids from 6′ x 6′ pressure-treated
lumber. Once the engine was mounted on the skids, I turned the
flywheels using a makeshift lathe designed by John Rex of
Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

The engine was looking hopeful once the painting began. I used
IHC red for the engine body and a mixture of black and deep green
to get a special shade for the flywheels. I used black pipe for the
water system and red brass for the fuel connections.

With everything assembled, painted and polished, I connected the
battery and coil. One pull later, it was off and running as smooth
as clockwork. After some trial and error, the engine ran just as
smooth on the hot tube.

I’ve brought the engine to numerous shows and it has always
been a big hit! The whole project took almost two years with the
help of many good friends and family. A special thanks goes to my
father and grandfather, who started and kept me interested in this
hobby. Thanks to all who helped make this restoration a

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