By Staff
article image

12234 Harris St. Carleton, Michigan 48117

It is hard to think of a 1? hp International M engine as rare or
special, but nevertheless, that is what this story is about. I
picked this engine up a couple of years ago from a fellow engine
collector friend of mine, Ed Laginess. He has a large collection of
antique engines, a big garage full. About every three or four weeks
or so, I would go to his place and look over his collection just to
turn a few flywheels and see what new things he had brought

The M was one of a trailer load of engines he picked up down
south some time ago. When I would stop in for a visit, I would
always check out that old M. I always found myself spinning that
engine over just to watch the ignitor snap off. I sprayed
penetrating oil on the valves and oiled the cylinder to try to
build up some compression, but it had very little or none. You know
that feeling that comes over you when you just have to have that
type of engine. You’re in trouble. He sold it to me; that’s
when the fun started!

This 1920 International is one of those engines you just
can’t quite figure out what type of life it had. The one thing
I do know is that when it was used, it was on or near the ground.
It may have had some type of cover over it because the top side of
the engine was in good shape, but the bottom around the base had
rust pits almost through the casting. At one point some time ago,
someone did try to fix up and repair this engine. The large rust
pits were filled with body filler, and a coat of paint was brushed
on. It is really hard to say if he was able to get it running or

Some of the broken and repaired parts were the exhaust rocker
arm, fuel pump rocker pivot, and the ignitor. It is hard for me to
figure out why this engine had so many broken parts or if it was
used for its good parts and the old repaired ones ended up on this

The ignitor was the big trouble. When it was repaired, the shaft
holes did not line up, so the shaft was filed down so it
wouldn’t bind. Unfortunately, it would not hold in any
compression. To try to get it running, I removed the piston and
freed up the rings and cleaned up the valves too. This made the
ignitor leak even more; something had to be done with it. ‘Try
to repair it’ was the order of the day.

I then took it to Dave Carr who is a machinist friend of mine.
Dave has a good head on him for how one should go about repairing
something like that. He looked it over real good. The repairs took
two days with me doing most of the machining while he looked over
my shoulder telling me how. If he did the repairs, it would have
only taken a couple of hours. The hole through the main part of the
ignitor was drilled out to 3/4′; a steel plug was made up and
pressed into place. Then everything was redrilled and a new shaft
made up. I used the old springs but ordered some new ones from
Starbolt. The mag was dead so I used a battery and coil to get it

When the complete restoration started, alot of new parts were
ordered: valves and spring, rings, carb syphon tube and needle
valve, a muffler and decals along with some other little parts. The
restoration took alot longer than I would have thought – about six
months. There are alot of small parts in an M engine compared to
some other ones I have worked on that had to be cleaned up and
repaired. This used up alot of time.

Another thing I did while restoring this engine was to video
tape the whole thing from taking it apart to putting it all back
together and running. This was alot of fun. One thing that I
thought was real funny is when you know what you want to say and do
and then turn the camera on and you forget how to talk and
can’t even remember your own name.

Often I read in Gas Engine Magazine that a newcomer to the hobby
finds an old engine and thinks it’s a rare one but finds out
that it’s not. I hope they aren’t discouraged. There are
some rare ones out there still to be found, but most of the rare
engines are in the safe hands of some long-time collectors and have
good homes. I think when someone finds an old engine and decides to
restore it, to try and undo what time and hard work have done to
these old engines, the memories and the good times that come with
this type of work, seeing an old engine come back to life and run
again after sitting idle for so many years, that is what makes all
the engines rare and special.

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