PUMPING IRON


| September/October 1997



Briggs and pump

1. Tired-looking Briggs and pump. Note common base

2, 1077 Sunnidale Road, Barrie, Ontario, Canada L4M 4S4

On December 31, 1995 I visited Bruce Goss, an avid and well-known local engine and tractor collector, in the township of Medonte near my Barrie, Ontario, home, with the intention of interviewing him and writing an article for Canadian Antique Power. Readers of that magazine will have read the results of the interview in the September/October, 1996 issue.

My interview, however, resulted in more than an article. While I was inspecting Bruce's engines and poking about his capacious storage building, my eye was caught by a very small vertical overhead-valve engine with deep cooling fins, an automatic intake valve, an exposed exhaust valve push-rod that disappeared into the engine's cast-iron crankcase, and a strange assemblage of piping that later turned out to be an air-intake tube and an impossibly-long intake manifold. Not only that, there was a folding kick-starter sticking out from the side of the machine, with a clumsy-looking chain drive connecting it to a sprocket on the flywheel. The odd engine was bolted to a base at the other end of which was a small piston-pump with a very large spoked pulley made of cast iron. The pump and engine were tied together by a disreputable-looking V-belt that seemed in imminent danger of parting under the stress of its own weight. I was immediately intrigued by what seemed to be a very unusual piece of equipment, and almost immediately determined to have it if it was for sale, despite the fact that every square inch was covered with a decades-long accumulation of rust and dirt.

I have only recently become interested in gas engines, so I had no idea of what this thing was. I asked Bruce, who informed me that the engine was an old Briggs 6k Stratton, and that it had two claims to fame: one was that it was complete, right down to the brass name-plate on the shroud; the other was that the engine and pump had originally been sold as a unit, and had spent their lives together on a common cast-iron base in some long-forgotten pump-house from which they had been rescued.

I reached out and gave a tentative push on the pump pulley; nothing moved. Bruce shrugged and said that he didn't remember the engine's being seized. I touched the engine's intake valve and it opened easily. I poked at the exhaust valve and it moved as well. Emboldened by this, I grasped the pump pulley with both hands and applied moderate torque; the piston, which evidently had just begun the process of taking up a permanent post in the cylinder, freed itself with a slight pop!, and everything started to turn freely. I could even feel that the engine seemed to have good compression.

That did it. I struck a deal with Bruce, and soon the engine was in the back of my truck, heading home with meand, incidentally, with the material for an article which somehow was not quite in the forefront of my mind. I celebrated part of that New Year's Eve dragging a rusty heap of iron into my basement and just sitting there looking at it; I may even have drunk a wee toast to it later that night, but certain events are, alas, unclear.