Reliance 5 HP Air-Cooled Engine

By Staff
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This Reliance 5 HP air-cooled engine belongs to Frank Pickering of 128 Navy Lane, Atco, NJ 08004. The story his acquisition and restoration appears on page 10 of this issue.
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The Reliance engine featured on the cover of this issue. Other illustrations are from catalogs and advertising materials.
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Reliance Leader Hydro-Pneumatic Water System. The firm offered these in sizes from a 'small one for your camp or bungalow' to one large enough to supply a whole city.

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.

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