Restoring a 3 HP McCormick Deering to a Beautiful Engine

A damaged governor system and stuck piston prove a challenge in restoring a 3 HP McCormick Deering

| May/June 1994

3 HP McCormick Deering engine

I vowed to myself that my current ownership of 8 tractors (some are half-owned by my friend Ron Kochera) and eight antique engines has reached capacity for the time. Ten minutes after deciding this, I read in the public auction section of the local farming magazine that a housecleaning sale for a deceased gentleman included a 3 HP McCormick Deering engine on a cart. My vow was abruptly placed on hold, due to the fact that the auction ad did not have the engine in boldface or in highlights, as often is the case. The ad did mention that it was stuck. Isn't it a collector's human nature to try and outguess potential bidders by thinking they will not see the engine word mentioned in the ad, or to think the word "stuck" may turn off potential buyers?

I called the auctioneer. He, like I, was a schoolteacher by occupation. My certification is in agricultural mechanics (which includes gas engines, of course). The auctioneer said the engines was not in too bad a shape, but that it had not been started in 30 years.

The auction was on a Monday afternoon at a fire hall near Allentown. I had to sneak out of work a little early with some lame excuse in order to arrive shortly after the four o'clock start. Squeezing through narrow aisles of cluttered tables and wall-to-wall people, I did not see the engine. Bidders were increasingly annoyed at my frantic pace throughout the hall. Finally, in between items, the auctioneer turned his head to sip some coffee. Seizing the opportunity, I lunged forward from 20 feet away and quickly asked, "Where is the engine? I'm the teacher who called you."

"Outside the side door in the back of my pickup truck."

"What time will it be auctioned off?" I continued.

"Oh I'd say around 5:30 or so."