REBIRTH OF A DELCO


| November/December 1985



Gas Engine

Completed light plant mounted on hand truck. Battery tray suspends on rod in front of small caster wheels.

312 Gillett Avenue Waukegan, Illinois 60085

My interest in gas engines goes back to my boyhood days on the farm in Western New York State. My dad was a mechanic for an IH dealer for many years and had successfully made the transition from horse drawn equipment to become the resident expert on milk coolers (remember the smell of sulphur dioxide when those old coolers sprang a leak?) and diesel engines. It was my privilege to work with him for two years following my graduation from high school in 1948.

He started collecting old gas engines during the late 1960's, long after I had moved to Illinois. Every year when we went home to visit, he would eagerly show me his latest find and soon the air would be full of the special music of old one-lungers.

On one trip home, I noticed he had acquired an old 32 volt, 750 watt, Delco generating plant. It sat outside the garage with the flywheel removed and all the electrical parts pulled off and lying in a box. The engine was very rusty and stuck tight. Dad apparently never had any interest in restoring this engine as it sat out there for several years before finally being moved into a corner of the old garage.

In 1983, following Dad's death, the old Delco went on the auction block as part of the estate sale. Not a single bid was made, so as the auctioneer turned to sell the next engine, I offered five dollars, to which he promptly responded, 'Sold'. Thus began my collection of 'rusty iron'.

Shortly after returning to Illinois with my 'prize', I began the restoration. Careful examination revealed that the parts were all there. Someone had even thoughtfully taped the flywheel key to the crankshaft after removing the flywheel. What followed was a four week process of disassembly, cleaning, painting, and repair to get the engine restored, and another several weeks to figure out and wire the generator portion.