The Odd-Ball Light Plant II

By Staff

1408 N. Van Buren Ottumwa, Iowa 52501

In the April 1991 issue of the Gas Engine Magazine I had an
article about my Odd-Ball Light Plant. This was a John Deere engine
with a 115V 3 PH 25 cycle DC generator. I hooked the three legs of
the three phase together, making a 75 cycle generator. The engine
was changed from a spark plug to a hot tube ignition. I then sold
the unit to Richie Thompson.

This summer I bought a cabin in southeast Iowa and needed a
generator for power in my new hideaway. I decided to call the
Thompsons, to see if they would sell the unit to me. After deciding
on a price, Rich agreed to deliver the unit to my new cabin. After
looking at the engine and generator, I realized it did not look
like the same unit I had sold years ago. Charles Wendel, who
graduated from MIT* with a degree in engineering, and Richie

Thompson, who is an expert on restoring antique engines, had
changed the engine by removing the hot tube. In its place they had
made an adaptor to use a diesel injector nozzle along with the hot
tube, making the engine a cross between a Lanova-Hesselmam that
they named a ‘LAHASSEL’ method. They used various fuels in
trying to get the engine to run. After trying different fuels, it
was found that a combination of three parts castor oil and one part
Bud Lite was an ideal fuel.

Charles came up with a unique method of driving the diesel
injector pump. I am also a graduate of MIT*. I had to go back to
the textbooks to understand how Charles could drive this pump with
a belt from the flywheel. They had discovered that the generator
had five brushes, one for each five cycles. They removed one brush,
leaving four delivering 20 cycles each. With the three legs of the
generator tied together, this would be able to deliver 60 cycles

At this time Mary Faye Thompson comes into the story. I remember
when she painted a large Fairbanks-Morse generator at the Midwest
Old Threshers, she did not get all of the green paint on the
engine; she came back to the travel trailer with a green dress.
Mary’s granddaughter Marilyn said she would like to paint
Grandpa’s engine. Mary Faye gave her $5.00 and told her to buy
the paint for the engine. She gave the old John Deere a wonderful
paint job, ‘Allis-Chalmers Orange.’

*MIT in this instance is not Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, it is Mystic Institute of Tomfoolery. Signed,
‘Thomas J. Foolery.’

Thanks to Charles Wendel, Richard and Mary Faye Thompson and
their granddaughter Marilyn Thompson for using their names in this
fun article.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines