OUR First Project

By Staff
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2224 Wyandotte Drive Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6L 2T5

The restoration of small engines started out as my idea for a
future retirement activity. I had always been interested in engines
when I was a teenager. Once I was offered a mini-bike with the
engine in pieces in a wooden basket (my first ‘basket
case’). All the parts were there and after completion, when it
started on the third pull, I was hooked. I collected a few Briggs
and Stratton engines over the years, but recently began in earnest
to accumulate more as my retirement approached. Having decided to
concentrate on older B&S engines, I searched the engine shows
in Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and New York. My son Eric would
usually accompany my wife and me as we scoured the flea markets,
and it wasn’t long before he, too, got the bug. Together we now
have collected 28 alpha and eight numerical B&S engines. Thus
my retirement idea to collect and restore B&S engines became a
father and son hobby.

The engine we chose to restore first was found at Alexander, New
York. A fellow engine collector, Martin Pope, had told me of a
friend selling B&S engines at the engine show in September
1994. Eric and I found Martin’s friend at the show and bought
three of his engines. One of them was an aluminum crankcase, 3×3
inch bore and stroke, model ZL, type 60180, serial #5239 built in
April, 1936.

The ZL was not stuck, but was missing the gas tank and bracket
as well as the governor controls and air cleaner. I was doubtful at
first, but my son fell in love with it, when we were offered an NOS
crank handle to go with it. I settled on a price and the ZL came
with us to Canada, along with four other B&S engines.

When we got it home and had a close look at it, we found the
carburetor was the wrong one. It belonged to a model 14. While I
wondered how to modify the throttle and governor connections, Eric
checked the model 14 he had bought recently, and found it, too, had
the wrong carb fittings according to the manuals. It did not take
long to realize, as luck would have it, we could switch the carbs
and have the correct one for each restoration.

The engine disassembly began in January, 1995, with the
cleaning, sandblasting and painting taking most of the summer, as
time would allow. A new connecting rod solved a worn bearing
problem, and the gas tank, muffler, gaskets and decals were ordered
from CPC Reproductions, in Tiverton, Rhode Island. I machined the
missing governor parts and the local B&S dealer still had a
governor spring in stock. However, as you can see, we still have
not found an air cleaner assembly.

Once the carburetor was rebuilt, the engine was ready to start,
except for the missing cast iron gas tank bracket. After asking
around and writing a few letters, Charles Camara of CPC
Reproductions came through again with a correct bracket from his
used parts stock.

Now it was just a matter of waiting for the Canadian winter to
release its hold on our garage workshop to start it up. In April we
could wait no longer so after bolting it to a board and clamping it
on a table we gave it the first crank. After a few carburetor
adjustments and a sore arm, it started up and purred away. My son
and I just stood back and let it run. I grew closer to my teenage
son as the work progressed but now as the engine ran on without
hesitation, I felt a new bond had developed between us. Sometimes
life gets so busy family relationships begin to suffer. For me, the
restoration of the ZL became a fun and interesting way to enjoy
some time together with my son.

I can’t wait to start on the model H.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines