Taming The Gilson

By Staff
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Cylinder of 6 HP Gilson showing slats for connecting rod so it did not hit 11/4 deep and tapered back for 3 in. to nothing. Some years ago, I saw a 11/2 HP engine done the same way. I could not find the make of it.
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The Gilson 6 HP running at the Finch, Ontario show in June, 1990. We showed the engine at three shows last year.

Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada KOB 1RO

In November 1987, my son Richard bought an engine-a Gilson
Wizard made in Guelph, Ontario. That winter, he took apart what was
left of it.

The small parts were badly eaten with rust; it was missing one
bearing cap, one governor weight, complete connecting rod bearing
magneto! Ignition part was still bolted in.

In the May 1988 GEM, page 3, my letter asking for help with
parts that I could copy for the Gilson Wizard 6 HP appeared. I
received seven letters of reply, and answered each. One man in
Quebec knew of one, which turned out to be a
31/2 HP. Two men who had bought a lot of
engines knew there was such an engine, and gave a lot of help. A
man in British Columbia sent me a nice photo of his, all complete
and painted. Another man in northern Ontario has one complete and
running, but needs a splash guard on the crankcase. A man in Quebec
said he knew of two, but they turned out to be 6 HP make and break
ignition, entirely different. The Wizard is throttle governed.

So with no help in parts, we started making our own the
following winter (1988-89).

First off, they were a rough made engine. The crankshaft was
just in 1/4 out of line with the piston in
order to line up with the cam gear, I think, so the crank bearing
was worn 1/8‘ on one side. This we had
turned. The cylinder we had resleeved because of rust. In order to
shorten up the engine, which had a long cylinder, they cut two
slots top and bottom of cylinder connecting rod end
11/4‘, deep and wide 3’ long.

The sub-base hopper and cylinder are all one; that was sent to
Montreal for three weeks to be resleeved. There was a crack of nine
inches in the bottom of the water jacket. Richard turned it upside
down to weld it and heard something fall out on the floor. There it
was, the brass name plate, nearly melted from heating the cylinder
to put the sleeve in.

Richard welded up the bearing caps and made a new gas tank along
with the governor weight. I did the blacksmith’s work, and
babbitted all bearings. The connecting rod has a trough from end to
end to get its oil from the oil cup on the hopper. I did not like
this, so we blocked it up and put a grease cup on crankshaft’s

The gas pump is a 3/8‘ shaft working
off the push rod which trips the magneto and opens the exhaust
valve. It is under the magneto and very simple and works good since
it was rebuilt. The magneto is bolted on with two bolts, up and
down; most Webster magnetos are bolted crossways. We were very
fortunate in getting a very good magneto through a machinist friend
of mine who goes to a flea market in Florida.

The day came to try and start it. One Sunday while I was at
church, my two sons cranked most of the morning and took the
magneto off about a dozen times, a good spark each time. After
having dinner, I went over and found that the new springs they had
put on the magneto were too big and strong, the trip finger would
just bend instead of tripping the magneto.

I had an extra F.B.M. magneto with lighter springs which we put
on. On the first turn, it started with a big bang and fired several
times and then stopped. We tried it several times with the same
results. The linkage from the governor shafts to the throttle was
not right; it would close tight up under the carburetor on the
first explosion and stay there or open again as the engine would be
about stopped. This made it jump off the floor.

Richard found out that by putting a little collar on the
throttle shaft with a long stove bolt in it and letting the end
come up against the bottom of the carburetor, he could adjust it
and keep it running smoothly.

We had it at two shows last year, at Sandringham and Kingston,
Ontario. While at Kingston, there was an old gentleman there who
had a 3/4 HP Gilson Wizard. He was walking
with two canes and someone said he was 86 years old. I asked him if
he would sell it and he said ‘No,’ it had been his

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