Gas Engine Magazine


By Staff

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

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

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.

  • Published on Jun 1, 1989
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