My Not-So-Economical ECONOMY

By Staff
1 / 2
2 / 2

10 Babbitt Road Mendham, New Jersey 07945

I guess everyone who has ever bought an old iron gas engine has
a story about how they found it rusting in a field, or sitting for
years in an old barn, and how they got it for next to nothing just
so the farmer’s widow could get rid of the old thing. Well, my
story is nothing like any of those, because my story starts with a
love of old one-lung hit and miss engines that goes back to years
of visiting the Kutztown Folk Festival in Kutztown,
Pennsylvania.

Every July my wife and I would eagerly await the Kutztown Folk
Festival knowing that my wife Carol (who’s an avid quilter)
would walk through the huge barn loaded with handmade quilts, and I
would try to catch the hit and miss engine demonstrations of
threshing and log sawing. Carol always saw the quilts, but somehow
I always got to the engine demonstrations just as they were
shutting down, or too early for the engines to be fired up. I
always promised myself that, one day, I would own one of those
things then I could run it whenever I pleased.

A very good friend of mine, Dennis Townsend (I call him ‘The
Instigator’), had been driving his 1946 restored Far-mall
‘A’ tractor in our local Fourth of July and Labor Day
parades for years. Hitched to his tractor would be a landscape
trailer hauling a 6 HP Witte belted to his corn shelter. Dennis
turned up my enthusiasm for the hit and miss engines (he’s done
it to a lot of others, too!) and I soon found myself at The Blue
Mountain Antique Gas and Steam Engine shows in Bangor,
Pennsylvania. Here was a place where the engines ran all day! And,
you could see a whole grove of them operating a myriad of machines
and implements!

This discovery led me to purchase not only the hit and miss
engine, but a 1946 partially restored Farmall ‘M’ tractor
(it needed to be rewired and have new rubber installed and lots of
loving care). The Economy that I located was a 3 horsepower
‘S’ model made in 1925, serial number 335877. It had been
mounted on a wooden cart that had to have been designed by Rube
Goldberg, as the front wheels could only turn 20 degrees in either
direction before they would lock up against the sides of the cart.
This made maneuvering the engine and cart a real disaster!

A happier discovery was locating a cast iron set of front and
back trucks in a tractor graveyard owned by Chet and Elmer Crane in
Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, to use as an engine cart for the
Economy. Although the set of trucks weighed 300 pounds, I just knew
at first sight that these were the ones I’d been looking for.
They had so much old paint on them that they could only be salvage
by media blasting them down to bare iron (just another expense in
the pursuit of engine excellence).

I had all this past winter to prime and paint the cast trucks
and to locate some seasoned oak from our local lumber yard, to
design and build the oak cross members that would hold my Economy
engine. All the while my friend Dennis kept giving me encouragement
and reminding me that I was committing ‘overkill’ with my
cast iron cart for a cast iron engine. Nevertheless, I was bound
and determined to finish the task and prove him wrong.

Back to the Economy engine I had purchased. I could never get it
to run successfully for more than a few minutes on its Webster
magneto, so I shipped out the magneto and ignitor to Ed at Hit and
Miss in Ohio. Ed and Gwen were very helpful but, upon seeing the
magneto, told me that the entire mag and ignitor would have to be
rebuilt (the Economy was not so economical). Upon receiving the
beautifully rebuilt and restored ignitor and magneto, my Economy
ran much better, but not for much longer than 15 minutes at a time.
Dennis and I have determined that a new fuel check valve is needed
to do the proper job.

Somewhere between buying the engine and making the cart I
decided that the Farmall would look great pulling a landscape
trailer with the Economy riding proudly on it. After all, how else
would I get the engine to shows at Bangor and beyond if I
didn’t have a trailer. So a new International landscape trailer
was purchased, too!

The crowning moment was securing Dennis’s block and tackle
chains over the header in my garage and our hoisting the Economy up
and off that Rube Goldberg cart, gracefully lowering it and bolting
it securely onto its shiny new varnished oak cross members on my
‘overkill’ cast iron set of trucks.

I think the whole setup looks GREAT and although it’s been
anything but economical, I wouldn’t trade the dollars or the
hours of work in it for anything. I hope all of you who read this
article and see my setup agree. Dennis and I have set up The
Mendham Antique Farmall Tractor and Gas Engine Association (we have
six members and we’re growing). My 1946 Farmall ‘M’
with its landscape trailer towed behind now hauls me and my Economy
in all our local parades (right behind Dennis ‘The
Instigator’).

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