75 Kendall Avenue, Framingham, MA 01701.
I acquired an old Smith-Langmaid marine engine in June 1988
after it had been an ornament in a stone wall for more than 20
Fortunately an opening in the engine once occupied by an ignitor
had been covered by a small metal plate, but when I attempted to
turn the heavy flywheel it became obvious that the piston was
frozen to the cylinder wall.
After trying several methods recommended for freeing frozen
pistons without any result, the use of a welder’s torch was
successful and the piston came loose. The piston, connecting rod,
two bearings, and the crankshaft were then removed from the
engine’s main frame.
The cylinder wall was smoothed with a honing tool powered by an
electric drill, and after the piston rings had been removed, their
grooves were cleaned.
After reinstalling the rings, the piston and connecting rod were
reinstalled with some difficulty. The crankshaft and bearings were
reinstalled, but a good mechanic would have replaced the bearings
at this time. However, the engine was now back together again and
the piston was operational.
Hose lines were connected to two fittings on the engine and
after priming one of the lines and rotating the flywheel, it was
determined that the engine’s small water pump was
Upon disassembling the brass carburetor, it was determined that
something was missing. Jim Paquette of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, a
machinist and owner of numerous gasoline engines, made a new needle
valve and a seat for it and the carburetor became operational.
The brass parts were cleaned and their appearances were much
improved by the efforts of my wife, Kay.
A new priming fitting was installed on top of the engine, a
spark plug was installed on the plate covering once occupied by an
ignitor, and a small Briggs & Stratton muffler was attached. A
3/16 inch thick asbestos gasket was made and installed
between the frame and the spark plug plate.
The engine was bolted to a wooden framework which included a
support for a former Briggs &. Stratton gasoline tank. A copper
tubing line was fabricated and connected between the tank and the
A shelf was provided in the wooden framework to hold a small
magneto which, after some machine work, was coupled to the free end
of the crankshaft. Ignition timing was accomplished and a vee-belt
was installed between the flywheel and an electric motor which was
also bolted down.
No hand cranking was done, the electric motor was used to turn
the flywheel counterclockwise in order to operate the magneto in
the correct direction.
A partial disassembly and cleaning of the magneto was found to
be necessary, and after getting correct carburetor adjustments, the
old engine came back to life and the electric motor was
After working intermittently on this engine for two years, there
was an element of satisfaction in seeing the engine in operation.
However, wanting to work on other projects, I sold the engine and
another small non-operating gasoline engine is now bolted to a
workbench awaiting the day when, hopefully, it also will become an
Incidentally, the Smith-Langmaid engine was built at Portland,
Maine and a nameplate identifies it as being a Casco model. No
information could be located on this engine and there was no
response to a request carried in a Reflections column.