Ottawa Engine Restoration

Peter Rooke wrangles a stubborn circa 1917 2-1/2 HP Ottawa engine — Part 1 of 4.

| August/September 2013

  • HP Ottawa
    The 2-1/2 HP Ottawa Engine as purchased.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Rooke
    The hopper ready to have its piston freed.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Ottawa
    The hopper resting on its cylinder head bolts so the penetrating fluid can soak around the piston.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Hydraulic Puller
    The hydraulic puller clamped to the hopper, pushing against the piston.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Puller
    The puller attempting to remove the key.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Rooke Ottawa
    The removed piston.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Key
    The unusual key that was holding the pulley in place.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • The Key
    The removed key.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Pulley Hub
    Cutting a slit in the remains of the pulley hub, with the crack visible after splitting.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Clamp block
    The puller daws resting against the clamp block.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Taper Key
    The block welded to the angle piece and taper key being used.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Pivot Pin
    The completed rocker arm along with pivot pin and adjustment bolt. 
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Cylinder Head
    The cylinder head after replacing the valves, showing the rocker arm bracket with tapered sides.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Lockout Assembly
    The lockout assembly as removed from the engine.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Completed Assembly
    The completed assembly being trial-fitted.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Governor Weight Repair
    The completed governor weight repair.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Governor Weight
    The broken governor weight after cleaning.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Pivot Arm
    The broken pivot arm.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Brazed Repair
    The brazed repair, ready to cut off surplus rod and finish file.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Metal Block
    The metal block brazed to the arm.
    Photo By Peter Rooke
  • Completed Repair
    The completed lockout arm repair.
    Photo By Peter Rooke

  • HP Ottawa
  • Rooke
  • Ottawa
  • Hydraulic Puller
  • Puller
  • Rooke Ottawa
  • Key
  • The Key
  • Pulley Hub
  • Clamp block
  • Taper Key
  • Pivot Pin
  • Cylinder Head
  • Lockout Assembly
  • Completed Assembly
  • Governor Weight Repair
  • Governor Weight
  • Pivot Arm
  • Brazed Repair
  • Metal Block
  • Completed Repair

My latest purchase is, according to the tag, an Ottawa 2-1/2 HP engine, serial no. C30705.

The origins of the Ottawa Mfg. Co. start with Warner Mfg. (later the Warner Fence Co.), a very successful business that manufactured woven fence wire in the 1880s. In 1903 the company relocated to Ottawa, Kan.

Warner Mfg. then produced various gasoline products, which were sold under the name Union Foundry & Machine Co.; the engines were sold by independent franchisers. These engines were also sold direct by the company under the Warner Engine name. The use of the Union name on engines disappeared around 1913, and they then became known as “The Ottawa” engine. Recognizing an opportunity, the company later designed and sold tree felling and log saw engines and is probably better known for these tools.

I was very fortunate to have obtained generous assistance from George and Helen Myers. They allowed me to tap their huge resource of knowledge on these engines. Helen was very patient, answering numerous questions and providing photographs. Their help ensured this project resulted in an extremely accurate restoration of this engine. There is no accurate dating information available for Ottawa engines, although Helen confirmed that this was a stationary engine, not a saw engine, and it was probably manufactured around 1917.



I agree with the comments by C.H. Wendel in his book American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, the Ottawa engine bears more than a passing resemblance to Associated engines manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa. The air-cooled head, hopper/main casting, muffler, governor weights and igniter are very similar to the Associated.

Removing the Ottawa engine piston

When I purchased the Ottawa engine, I was told that the piston was seized in the bore but the rust in the cylinder was thin surface rust, not deep pitting.



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