Showstopping Sheffield

What Started out as Little More than a Boat Anchor is now a Real Showstopper


| August 2005



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A full view of the engine/cart ensembleThis was the Sheffield's first public appearance since its restoration.

This engine started as a rumor among friends at shows, with several talking of a sideshaft engine near Prairie Home, Mo., and how the family would not sell. We've all heard about these things, and some people get the chance to break the chain of “I won't sell.” Dad and I never got that chance with this engine. Even though several collectors told us where it was, we never made it to see this one. While we wanted to, we just never took the time to track it any further, when so many others with more money to offer had been there and were turned down flat.

That was, until Clifford Duffey worked his magic. Cliff is a very modest man in his upper years, well known and respected in the Midwest as a collector and a gentleman. And Cliff did what no one else could: In the early spring of 1992, he came home with the 6 HP Sheffield in his truck. When asked, he claimed to have just caught them on the right day. He must have said the right things!

A Real Mess

A few weeks later, Cliff came by Dad's house asking for our help fixing this rusted mess. I mean, this thing was stuck, rusted, busted and broken beyond belief. It had originally been mounted on a hay baler and had been in the weather most of its life. The water jacket had an 8-inch-long crack right behind the sideshaft and the head had a crack in it 17 inches long! Yes, the crack was halfway around the perimeter of the head, starting at the gasket surface right behind the sideshaft, and the head had a blacksmith's band shrunk around it.

The flywheels were another fine mess. We first noticed the hubs on both sides had blacksmith bands shrunk onto them, and upon inspection we found that one hub had a huge crack between the spokes in the middle of the clamp section (the hubs are split-type with bolts) and two spokes were broken loose. The other hub was worse; both halves of the clamp were broken and three spokes were loose. The sideshaft-side flywheel had been taken off and turned around backwards, the crankshaft gear was gone, the flywheel appeared to have been run loose and the keyway had been wollered out badly. The igniter operates off an eccentric on the end of the sideshaft, which also drives the governor with a bevel gear, and it was missing.

Dad and I proceeded to dismantle the engine after moving it to our house, and soon found out it was not going to be an easy thing to do. Just getting the small parts off the front of the head proved to be a challenge taking several weeks, but we didn't break anything. The crank and flywheels were easily removed, but that was all that came off easily. The hopper bolts on with flanges at the head and the top of the cylinder, and those bolts broke off. Carburetor bolts broke, igniter bolts broke, head bolts broke. (Do you see a pattern here?) With everything we tried to take off, one or more bolts were rusted so bad they broke (yes, we used lot of penetrating oil, several kinds).

After a couple of months we finally got down to the piston, and that was going to be tough. Some time was necessary to loosen it, so we decided to soak it in a 30-gallon barrel of ATF for a while. During the process of tearing down this well-weathered mess, we found only a small trace of green paint under the head. It was faded badly, but it was paint.