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John Ledbetter's cart-mounted Curtis compressor, powered by a 1- HP Fairbanks-Morse.

The following comes from a recent topic discussed on SmokStak at Various individuals
started, commented on and concluded this bulletin board thread.

After having my share of engines and other equipment, I think
it’s time to start having items running with my engines. I am
sure they were used to power a lot of items. I don’t know what
they could be, but there are some of you who do. Please help me
with some names of equipment that might work on my engine trailer.
All my engines are in the 2-3 HP range. – Thanks, Ken

Just to name a few: Burr mills, grinders, water pumps,
generators and fans. I love to have stuff to run with my engines –
it lets people see what they were really used for! -Norm

There are lots of small machines that you could run, mostly
limited by space and ingenuity. Some are common at shows, others
not so. Some interesting items are: Butter churns, clover hullers,
washing machines, saw rigs, water pumps, fanning mills, feed
grinders, corn shellers, blowers, forage choppers, even ice cream
makers and peanut roasters (you can sometimes make yourself some
money with those, if the local club and health inspectors don’t
mind). Rube Goldberg machines that go ’round just for the sake
of having something to run are seen more often as well. One
contraption that people seem to enjoy is a bubble blowing machine,
another is the teddy bear or flower go ’round, or Ferris wheel.
– Allen

I have taken a wooden bull wheel out of a pump house to a show
and run it with my 12 HP Pattin. I probably won’t do this too
many times just because it is such a pain to load on a trailer and
move, but it does get a lot of attention at the show when there is
a 10 FT wooden wheel turning by an engine. It also took a lot of
room at the show to belt this setup. – Tom

Your last statement about the room it took to set it up is a
good one. A person might also consider powering an air compressor.
Then besides actually doing something with your engine, you could
also blow your own whistle. That’s one of my own goals. –

A neat rig shown at Portland one year was a mini oil pump rig
and dark brown water flowing into the oil drum. It looked good and
gave the people an idea about how the engines were used in the oil
patch. -Randy

What do you enjoy? You could do a corn theme. One engine running
a corn shelter, another grinding up the shelled corn. I’ve seen
a pump theme done on one trailer. The owner had a variety of pumps
and pump jacks displayed. All were pumping water. I’ve also
seen line shaft setups where an engine powered a line shaft with
various tools belted to it. Grinder, drill press, etc. Some folks
go for variety. They might have one engine on a trailer hooked up
to a pump, another to a corn sheller, another to an antique washing
machine, etc. One trailer can be used to demonstrate a wide range
of engine uses. One fellow had a display that showed working wooden
figures, such as seen on wind-powered yard decorations. In this
case, they were powered by his engine. One was a woman churning
butter, the other was two men cutting wood with a cross cut saw.
Good Luck! – Tom

Hi all. Just an engine running sounds good, but an engine doing
a job is even better. I run a 1920s plaster mixer with my 1 HP JD,
an F-M water cooled compressor with my 2 HP dishpan that also blows
a whistle, a silage blower with my 3 HP F-M, all of which are on a
trailer that puts them out of reach of the young ones. The more
things you can have them do, even if you have to be creative, is
better than having them doing nothing. Just make sure that the belt
driven stuff is either out of reach or well roped off and watched!

Ken, I have a number of engines running different things, and
some take up a fair amount of room. One setup that I put together,
which takes a small amount of room, is this 1- HP F-M and a small
Curtis air compressor. The engine and cast iron base was used for a
generator. I bought the engine without the generator and made this
unit. Just an idea. – John

Hi John, that is a neat little setup! An engine not working is a
bored engine! It is getting harder to find the original implements,
but a little creative ingenuity goes a long way! – Bob

I bought an air compressor from a gentleman on Harry’s site
that looks just like the one you have on your display. There was
some sort of a governor-like device on the compressor that seems to
work kind of funny in that it opens the compressor intake valve
above some rotational speed. Do you have any idea how this is
supposed to actually work? The logic of what I have totally escapes
me. – Russ

The compressor that I have has a toggle-type lever on top of the
unit which will stop the compressor from pumping air. It has a
plunger under it that goes into the cylinder which in turn lets air
escape from the cylinder head when you don’t want the unit to
pump. However, it will not release on its own, so you also need a
pressure relief valve. Mine is set to open at 50 psi. The
compressor was built by The Curtis Compressor Co. of St. Louis, Mo.
It was sold by Farm Utilities Co. of Portland, Ore. Size of piston
bore and stroke is 2-1/8 x 2-. I’m sure
that you know you have to install a check valve between the
compressor and the air tank. E-mail me if you need information or
pictures. – John

Hi all, my F-M compressor also has that compression release
lever on the intake. It’s manual, probably for starting or to
let the engine idle. – Bob

When I first received the compressor, I assumed that the
governor-looking device was indeed something to unload the
compressor until the speed came up to some point. This makes sense.
The way it appears to work is the reverse of that. The compressor
will function until the governor operates, then it unloads by
holding the intake valve open. I am beginning to think something is
not installed correctly. It is put together just the way I received
it. I want to use the compressor with a small gas engine, and
unlike an electric motor you just can’t easily shut the thing
down upon reaching operating pressure and then have it restart
automatically as the pressure drops. I have considered using a
centrifugal clutch on the engine and throttling the engine back to
an idle upon reaching operating pressure by means of a small air
cylinder, diaphragm, or something like that. When the air pressure
dropped to a set point, the engine would throttle back up and start
turning the air compressor again. Normally there would be an
automatic unloading valve on the compressor operated by the air
pressure to stop compressing air at the operating pressure. Then
there is the business of finding a centrifugal clutch that drove a
flat belt to match the compressor flywheel pulley. Oh well.

Russ, you need a device called a Load Genie, which is a
combination check valve and unloader. It is plumbed into the
compressor discharge line. When you reach desired pressure
(adjustable) it ports the air from the compressor overboard and at
the same time the check valve prevents air from escaping your air
receiver. When the pressure drops about 10 to 15 psi, the valve
redirects the air to the receiver. This unit is available at W.W.
Grainger Co. if you have one nearby. – Max

Thank you very much for that information. I was contemplating
several options to accomplish this function. One of the things I
was thinking about was trying to make this equipment look authentic
for the date it was manufactured. On the other hand, safety is more
important than authenticity when it comes to gas under pressure.

That governor is so the compressor can be run with an electric
motor. It allows the motor to come up to speed before a load is put
on it. – Scott

My friend John has a lot of neat items like the pictured item,
and puts a lot of himself in them. How much did you say you wanted
for that horse and a half Waterloo Boy, John? Just a side note, my
flag is flying high. I am sure all of yours are too. – Steve

Thanks Steve, no the Waterloo is still not for sale, but we
could talk trade on your Harley! – John

The discussion above can be found by visiting SmokStak at SmokStak is an engine conversation bulletin
board, which is part of the Old Engine series of web sites that
started in 1995 as Harry’s Old Engine.

Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas
engine collector from Oswego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla.
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