My Education

| April/May 1999

135 Harmon Street, North Tazewell, Virginia 24630

Several years ago, when I was young and innocent, I saw my first hit and miss gasoline engine. It was a marvel to me how the engine would seemingly run at times and coast at other times. Being blessed with better than average mechanical ability, I soon saw that the exhaust valve and the magneto were disabled during the coasting times. I immediately set a goal for myself to own one of this type of engine.

Later I saw an advertisement for a book with the plans to build a hit and miss engine from scratch. I purchased the book, looked at it, studied it, and put it up for another day. That day has never arrived.

Last spring a friend of mine brought to work an auction flyer with a Fairbanks-Morse one and one-half horsepower hit and miss engine listed. He informed me that he planned to attend the auction. I asked him to buy it for me if he could stay within my budget. The following Monday he showed up at work with a truckload of goodies and one engine in very dirty shape.

After studying the engine I saw that it was a Fairbanks-Morse Model Z one and one-half horsepower engine that ran at 500 rpm. The engine had a set of points rigged to work from a post on the timing gear and what I assumed to be a coil.

Later that day, I loaded the engine and hauled it to a steam cleaner for a thorough cleaning. Then I waited for the 'cheap time' to phone my cousin in Washington who is an expert on and a connoisseur of antique engines. I proudly informed him of my acquisition and he broke the news to me that it was not a hit and miss engine but a throttle governed engine. He told me that he would send me copies of Gas Engine Magazine advertisements so I could order reprints of manuals.