Ryttarstigen 72, S-436 56 Hovos, Sweden
Some time ago I got a telephone call from a friend of mine Rune Haldorsson who told me about an old blacksmith shop on the Swedish west coast, where he had seen something that looked like parts from an old engine. He would be going back there later on to satisfy his own motorcycle interest. Was I interested? Of course I was. I am always interested when I hear about old engines.
On the scheduled day we met and drove the 25 miles to the old blacksmith shop. The man who owned the shop was a relative of the old blacksmith who had passed away some years ago. He showed us the shop-a little wooden house 15 by 10 feet with a heavy 9 foot long lathe in it and thousands of things in it, mostly on the floor. The blacksmith seemed to have been a collector of everything from Ford A engines to gunpowder, all in a fine mess.
Nevertheless, there was a loft above, which could be reached through a 30 by 35 inch door in one of the gables. The loft floor was covered with sawdust and it was only 4 feet up to the roof ridge, so I had to crawl on all fours.
I soon saw a crankcase from a 4 HP Fairbanks-Morse model T engine. After short while I found the cylinder with serial no. 69162 (perhaps 1908?). After an hour of crawling and digging in the sawdust, plus some more hours searching down in the shop, I had found most of the parts except flywheels, igniter, igniter rod, hot tube burner/chimney, start-fuel tank, throttle valve and crankhandle.
When the owner then told me that he had two big iron wheels in his barn (which happened to be the flywheels), it came to a deal.
After we had loaded all engine parts in our station wagon and were about to leave, the owner told us about a similar engine owned by a farmer some miles away.
My friend Rune was almost as happy as I was, because he had found some parts for his old motorcycles. We left the blacksmith shop and on our way home we visited the farmer and asked for a look at his engine. The first word from the farmer was, 'It is not for sale!' But after awhile we were allowed to look at it. This one was an F & M model T 4 HP, too, but someone had converted it to HT ignition, and the old igniter and igniter rod were missing. Where could they be? 'The engine was converted in the '20s by the man I bought it from, so you won't find them here,' said the farmer. As there was very little hope in finding the remaining parts after 60 years, we left the farmer and went home.
A week later I decided to visit the farmer who had converted the engine (the one that wasn't for sale). I drove the 25 miles again to the address I had gotten, and found a very decayed farm with one of the two barns quite collapsed to a height of just three feet. The other barn and the farmhouse had almost no paint left and a window was broken. My first thought was that no one had lived here for 10 or 20 years, but when I came close I heard a radio from inside and there were shoes on the doorstep. I knocked at the door and an old man opened it.
'Yes,' he remembered his old engine and he had a wooden box with parts from that engine. The box contained two igniters, some broken horse-shoe magnets, and some other parts. Can you imagine how glad I was?
'I think the magneto is somewhere out here,' said the old man as he started to dig with his foot in the ground. And there it was, a Wizard magneto full of soil and ants.
I told him what the igniter rod looked like and asked him if he still had it.
'I remember I saw it hanging on the barn ceiling many years ago, but since then the barn has collapsed.' Believe it or not, after 30 seconds of searching among the downfallen timber, he found it. Well, there are different ways to keep things in order! Happy as a child, I left the farmer with my goldpieces.
I haven't come across the last missing part for my engine yet and that isn't good, but even worse is that many years ago the connecting rod broke and broke the crankcase. One piece from the crankcase is now missing and so is the piston. This will give me a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, as you can see on the pictures the old blacksmith solved this problem in his own way. He made a splint dressing by means of two iron bars. He found a new piston (the old one must have been cracked), riveted some sheet copper bands around it to get the proper diameter. He then bolted a 3/4' thick aluminum disk on top of the piston to get the proper compression ratio. As an extra security he bolted a sheet iron disk on top of the aluminum as a heat shield. To avoid further conrod brake, he decreased the piston weight by drilling a lot of holes in the piston. The hole in the crankcase he repaired by casting babbit in the place of the missing piece.
It is difficult to believe that the engine could work after this reparation, but the wear at the copper bands around the piston and the carbon on the piston top is good proof that the engine ran for a long time.
Of course, it would be interesting to see it running again with that piston and connecting rod, but no one would trust it, so I think I will try to find another piston and connecting rod.