Reliance 5 HP Air-Cooled Engine


| March/April 1988


128 Navy Lane, Atco, N.J. 08004.

The story of my owning this engine goes back to March 1975, when my wife of only 6 months and I were riding our motorcycle in the New Jersey Pine Barrons area when all of a sudden I came to a stop. 'What happened,' my wife said. I said 'I just saw flywheels sticking up through the weeds in that field.' 'Flywheels?' said she. 'Flywheels' I said 'an engine.' Up to that point I had only seen one hit and miss engine and had never heard one run. After parking the motorcycle we went for a closer look which revealed this engine and another sitting in the foundation of an old building, both were in very bad condition and nothing moved. Everything was rusted together and on this engine there were several broken parts: the carburetor, a valve guide, and the fuel pump piston. The fan blades and gas tank were all but rusted away. Still I had to have them. 'What are you going to do with that junk and how would you get it home?' my wife said. About that time I think she might have been questioning the sanity of marrying me, but she soon got used to the idea. In fact, she spent many an hour in my garage helping me put parts on the engine. Next came the task of finding the owner to see if he would sell. A check at the nearest farmhouse revealed the name and address of the farmer who owned the property. When we got to his house he said the engines were no good, that the building they were in burned in 1950 and they have been outside ever since. He also told us the building was a cranberry packing house and that his mother had worked there until it closed somewhere around 1910. He said he didn't think he wanted to sell but the more we talked I was able to convince him that he should. Now came the task of how to get them home. This engine alone weighed about 1,000 pounds and I decided it wouldn't fit in the trunk of my car. The farmer volunteered to pick it up with his loader and bring it to my house on his pickup truck for an extra 15 dollars.

After we got them home and unloaded I inspected them very closely and found the babbit bearings were completely melted out and gone, so I decided to soak, everything in penitrating oil and slowly take it apart which went well till I got to the piston. This did not move until 3 months after soaking and heating, dry ice in the piston and finally an arbor press. Then I sandblasted, pried and painted all the parts and finally reassembled. This included an attempt at pouring bearings, which after the 3rd try I had moderate success. Finally it was reassembled, but I still had no idea of what its ignition system looked like. Another engine collector came to my rescue and gave good suggestions and even made me new intake and compression springs. Still up to this point I didn't know what kind of engine it was. At an antique car show I happened upon a man who had some stationary engine literature for sale and here I found an original brochure of my engine, stating it was a Reliance 5HP. According to American Gas Engines since 1872, it is an air-cooled motor.

Finally I had all the ingredients and after much work and making over rusted parts, brazing broken parts, and fabricating new sheet metal parts; such as the engine's gas tank, and fan blades; I got the engine that almost everyone said would NEVER run again running, and 12 years and 11 engines, and related equipment later it is still my wife's and my favorite engine and it seems to draw a lot of interest at shows.






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