Accomplishing a Stubborn Galloway Engine Re-Build

Stuck piston is biggest challenge in 6 HP Galloway engine restoration

| December 2012/January 2013

When I acquired this 6 HP Galloway I knew full well it was going to be a challenge. The gentleman I purchased it from was 64 years old. He said that when he was a boy of about 13 he helped his father dump it under an old oak tree. It had been used on a saw rig and was exposed to the elements for many, many years.

The drip oiler and all the grease cups had been removed. The magneto was gone and the mixer was half rusted away. The crank guard and the gas tank were also missing, and of course the piston was stuck.

Disassembly went pretty well. But now, how do I get the piston out? The bore was really rusty and pitted. I set the cylinder bore on end and poured in various solvents that were supposed to free up the piston. I let it sit on end for two months, adding additional solvent occasionally. After about three months I used a 4x4 piece of wood and a 10-pound mallet to try to remove the piston. It did not take long to figure out that was not going to get the job done.

I then built a frame out of some scrap iron that enclosed the cylinder bore and was about 20 inches longer than the bore, which let me place a wooden 4x4 in the bore. I placed a hydraulic jack on top of the 4x4 and placed a heavy piece of steel on top of the jack and below the frame. With everything in place I started jacking to push out the piston. Soon the top of the frame started to bend. I could tell I was putting a lot of pressure on the piston. I did not want to damage anything, so at that point I called one of my friends over and asked him to bring his torch. He heated up the area around the piston, and occasionally I would do a couple strokes on the jack. We took our time heating up the area around the piston and pumping a couple more strokes. Finally, the piston began to move. We had to use the jack all the way to remove the piston. The piston was not damaged. The hydraulic jack, heating up the bore around the piston and patience are what got the job done.

You must have some help when restoring engines that need to be sleeved and need new bearings, and you’ll need help if there are missing parts. Gaffrey Babbitting, Deadwood, S.D., sleeved the engine, poured new bearings and turned the rod bearing. Lightning Magneto, Ottertail, Minn., supplied a like-new Webster magneto. John Wanat, West Redding, Conn., supplied the gas tank. Corey Bell supplied the mixer. JW Casting Company, Ogema, Minn., supplied a new crank guard.

I cleaned up the piston, installed new rings and replaced the old valves with new ones. I had a heavy engine cart that I mounted the Galloway on, and then I painted the engine.


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