Locating and Restoring an OTTO

By Staff
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Route 2, M 25, Akron, Michigan 48701

Late in September 1977, as I was going over my GEM magazine for
about the third time, I was again reading ‘Moving Day’ by
David Reed, about the Otto gas engine, when my brother called from
Lewiston, Michigan which is about 115 miles north of me. He wanted
to know if I was interested in a gas engine. When I asked him how
big and what kind, he said a 5 HP Otto. I couldn’t believe it,
and said, ‘You mean an Ottawa.’ He said, ‘No, it’s
spelled OTTO.’

So the next day a neighbor and I took off for Lewiston. It was
cold and raining when we got there. We located the owner and he
took us about 500′ back in the woods, and there was old Otto,
sitting on a set of steel trucks, with brush and trees growing up
around it. It was settled in the dirt about 4′, and there was
nothing for color but rust.

Its’ last job, neither the owner nor I know how long ago,
but buzzing wood. There was part of a buzz saw hooked on the back.
The piston was free. The owner said every couple of years he would
dump oil on it. But, the sideshaft was set up, the exhaust manifold
was among the leaves and dirt and in sad shape, and the throttle
spindle was missing.

We dickered over the price for half an hour or so, but I
willingly gave in, because I knew it was rare, and he did not.

We returned home late that day and borrowed a lowboy trailer.
The next morning we returned with the trailer and moved a couple of
downed trees, some brush and other junk. We got a couple neighbors
and rolled old Otto into the trailer. We made it home with no
problems, however, a cold rain was falling.

It has been about nine months now, and about 350 hours of work
and several dollars in repairs on some worn parts, but it now looks
great and runs the same. I have written David Reed and also Lyle
Cummins. Both say the engine was built in about 1896. It has a
serial number 5757. Pictured is the Otto in restored condition.

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