Stationary Engine List

Running Slow


| January/February 2002



Stationary Engine

What seemed a promising discussion for both this column and a future, dedicated article in the magazine came up on the ATIS internet mailing list recently. A young collector heard about a flywheel engine on a nearby property and asked for advice on retrieving it. The only problem was that the engine in question was believed to be down a well! As usual the list rose to the challenge, and list members were full of information about possible dangers, such as poisonous gases or lack of air, what organizations could help and safety precautions to take. It was a great disappointment to all of us, not least to the young man himself, when he discovered that a house had been built directly over the well!

Well, that ended that story, so as an alternative, we present the following thread of discussion, one that literally covers the world of engine collecting. It originated in Australia, where a collector has just completed the restoration of a 12 HP Root and Vandervoort, and, having run it successfully at one of his local shows, was confident enough to make some adjustments to its running. His victorious e-mail to the list prompted discussion about the preferences for engine running speeds in different countries, the stresses which can be placed on an engine and methods by which an engine can be slowed.

As ever, the following comments reflect a variety of opinions that surfaced during this discussion.

After talking with a fellow R & V collector in the U.S. the other night, I thought I might try his method of slowing the R & V down. So I went outside and simply took the main governor spring (the one between the weights) off the engine. Started up the 12 HP R & V and now it is running real slow at about 80-90 rpm. At this speed I have to get the fuel/air mixture just right, because if it missed a fire the engine will not get through the next compression stroke. You could go and make a cup of coffee between the mighty bangs now

You might find it may get more reliable once the rings seat in a bit.

What's the 'standard' in Oz for running engines at shows? Here in the States we tend to do what you've done, namely tinker with 'em to get 'em to run nice and slow. And usually it's just the engine running and not belted up to something 'working.' In England, the standard tends to be just the opposite; an engine running flat-out at full nameplate rated speed, often belted to a piece of equipment.