Restoring a 2 HP Model K Stover Engine

Collector restores a 2 HP Model K Stover engine by fabricating parts himself


| May/June 1981



Timer Assembly

My latest acquisition was a 2 HP model K Stover engine, in borderline "parts engine" condition complete with cracked head, broken rocker arm and frozen piston. Missing were one of the flyweights on the governor, gas tank, igniter, magneto and the entire magneto trip mechanism that attaches to the push rod. At first, I relegated this basket-case to the parts department. However, the more I looked at the 2 HP Model K Stover engine the more of a challenge it became to restore it, even though it is a common and not particularly desirable engine from a collector's standpoint. Not wishing to spend any money on it for missing parts, I decided to fabricate all those missing items and repair the broken ones. Upon disassembling the Stover engine I found the cylinder, rings, valves and bearings to be in quite good condition. I welded the head with Utectric wire, honed out the cylinder, ground the valves and lapped them in and fitted all the bearings. With a hacksaw, grinder and cape chisel, I fashioned a new governor flyweight from a cast iron pipe plug to match the existing one. The usual cleaning, sandblasting, painting and assembly followed.

Now, the ignition system and the main purpose of this article: at the various meets around New England, I have seen all sorts of Rube Goldberg ignition setups ranging from a wire rubbing on a bolt screwed into the cam gear, to elaborate and extremely cumbersome automotive distributor setups. Wipers rigged up to the valve push rod were prevalent. These, unfortunately, made contact both on the forward and return stroke of the push rod, causing an unwanted spark during the intake stroke. Most of these makeshift arrangements had no provision for advance or retard and many of them were unsightly as well.

About now I can imagine the hair raising on the necks of those of you who have thought out these various systems. Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing your efforts to "make do." After all your engine is chugging merrily away and you are having fun and are proud of the results of your efforts. That is good and it is what this hobby is all about. Please accept my apologies as no offense was intended.

I have developed a non-authentic system that provides all the necessary functions, works extremely well, is quite obscure, is fairly simple to make, looks factory-made and in no way will butcher the original parts on the engine. Being a model T Ford enthusiast as well, I chose to go the timer and high tension spark coil route. Use of the timing gear shaft as a mounting base for the rotor lends itself well to the four stroke cycle engine. On a two stroke cycle, one would work off the crankshaft.

This brings to mind the many remarks made by various hobbyists relative to the poor quality of Ford spark coils. This is not true. They can be easily rebuilt by installing a new 0.5MF. capacitor rated at 400 volts minimum across the points. This can be accomplished by sliding the side panel off the box, digging out a little tar and soldering the new capacitor across the points, leaving the old one in place. Providing the secondary coil windings have not been broken, and installation of a new set of K-W points available at most antique auto parts houses, the Ford coils will work as well as any. Adjust the points to 0.032" clearance and an additional 0.005" on the cushion spring. Bend the rear point mounting platform up or down to attain a good, hot spark. I have had a set of these old rebuilt coils in my Model T for eight years and about 20,000 miles and have never touched them since they were installed. I have detailed instructions available for rebuilding these coils if anyone is interested. This I will grant, however; a nicely varnished and polished Kingston coil box properly mounted on the truck does have more asthetic appeal than a taped-up Ford coil lying on the ground beside the engine.

Back to my timer setup. First I shaped a spark plug boss from 5/8" mild steel and drilled holes to fit at the igniter opening of the cylinder. This was drilled and tapped for a 5/8" pipe thread Champion X sparkplug and provided with an asbestos gasket. Figure A-1 details the general setup for the timing mechanism.