MISTAKEN IDENTITY

By Staff
1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

R.R.1, Box 1306 Freedom, Indiana 47431

The story of how I acquired this engine is a case of mistaken
identity. I had been searching for months for a single cylinder
Maytag to add to my collection of small, air-cooled engines. Every
lead I followed turned out to be a dead end. Then, during a
conversation at work one day, a guy mentioned that 45 years ago his
grandfather had put an old engine on a homemade lawnmower frame.
Jerry said the engine had never run in his lifetime, but one thing
he could remember about it was it utilized a kick pedal for
starting. Since his grandfather’s farm was still in the family,
we agreed to go out there one night after work and search for the
mower.

Jerry thought the mower was stored in a corn crib, so I thought
I might get lucky and find the engine in good shape, even after all
these years. The trip was a relatively short one; I soon found
myself standing in front of the barn.

Jerry had told me before-hand that the farm harbored a large
population of copperheads, but I did not realize the extent to
which he referred, until he declined to enter the corn crib with
me, and instead leaned a .22 caliber rifle just inside the door.
‘Just in case,’ he said. As I walked carefully toward the
dark shape at the end of the crib, I wondered what I would find.
Finally, I arrived at the mower, but the engine was hidden from
view by several empty fertilizer sacks that had been piled on it.
Very carefully, I removed one sack at a time until the engine came
into view.

Upon seeing it, my heart sank, for even in the gloom inside the
crib I realized the engine was much too large to be a Maytag. My
curiosity got the best of me and demanded a closer look.
Fortunately, the engine was just sitting on the mower, and I was
able to carry it back outside into the sunlight to examine it. Upon
closer examination, it turned out to be a Briggs & Stratton
model ‘A,’ equipped with kick-start. The engine was covered
in the usual dirt and grease, and years of exposure to the
corrosive fertilizer had dissolved a good portion of the aluminum
cylinder head.

Since I had already restored several old Briggs, I was about to
pass on this one, when I happened to step down on the starter
pedal, and the engine turned over and actually built a small amount
of compression.

After seeing that, I decided it was worth my time to see what I
could do with it, so we loaded it into Jerry’s truck and he
delivered it to my house for me.

Since winter was fast approaching, the engine spent the next few
months sitting in my shed. Finally, it warmed up enough to start
work, and upon disassembly I found the engine showed very little
wear on a .010 overbore it had received sometime in its past. Since
it was in such good shape mechanically, the only real work involved
degreasing, sanding, and painting. I re-assembled the engine, then
started searching for a good cylinder head to replace the damaged
one. A new head was impossible to find due to the engine’s age,
but I was able to locate a used head through an ad in GEM. With
that last item out of the way, I was ready to try starting the
engine for the first time in almost 50 years. I closed the choke,
opened the fuel shut off valve, and kicked down on the pedal.

On the third attempt the engine fired and began to run. A little
carburetor fine tuning had it idling smoothly. The purist may
object to my choice of colors and the polished cylinder head, but I
wanted a different look to set the engine apart from all my
others.

I’d like to thank to Jerry Hobbs for giving me the engine
and helping me get it home.

Special thanks should go to Becky, my wife of four years, who
spends many an hour alone while I’m out in the shop or off
chasing down another old engine lead. She listens patiently while I
regale her with stories of frozen pistons, bent valves, and leaky
carburetors, but never complains about what I drag home, although
I’m sure she has her doubts sometimes. (As I do also.) Her
patience and understanding means more to me than she will ever
know.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines