Ottawa Engine Restoration

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

| August/September 2013

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.