The Scrap Iron Man Tried…BUT DIDN’T SUCCEED

By Staff
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This is the story of how a 20 HP Stickney almost was scrapped, but was saved to run another day.
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A wooden pattern used in the Stickney's restoration.
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The 'before' picture of the 20 HP Stickney was definitely dismal.
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Another wooden pattern used in the restoration process.

1215 Jays Drive, N.E. Salem, Oregon 97303

For many years Dave Kestler, of Herald, California had heard of
a large Stickney engine in the Yreka, California area, but living
several hundred miles away, nothing was done about it. In 1978 the
decision was made to go north and check it out and possibly acquire

Having a fair knowledge of the mines in this area, they arrived
in the Fort Jones Country and started asking questions. They were
told that a mine up the road had a large engine there. Upon
arriving at the site, it was found that nothing was left. However
there was evidence in the tailings pile of where a large engine had
laid on its side. But now it was gone. ‘Well we missed this
one, so let’s look around before we leave.’ A tobacco can
is found nailed to a stump, in it was a copy of the mining claim.
The name of the mine is the ‘STICKNEY LYNN’. The claim also
shows the names of three owners.

Upon arriving back in Yreka, a check is made in the phone book,
and it shows one person with the same name as listed on the claim.
We go to the house, and a lady answers the door. We ask the right
questions and are told that that Stickney Steam Motor belongs to
her son. We are told to go to the tavern where he is a bartender
and talk to him about it. Upon arriving at the tavern, we order a
brew and start conversation about the engine. We are told that yes
he owns that Stickney Steam Motor and yes it is for sale. For
$4500.00, OUCH! Over the hours and much small talk, the price keeps
coming down. At the last call, Dave is told to come out to the
ranch in the morning and we’ll get together on that Stickney
Steam Motor.

Arriving at the ranch the next morning, the engine is finally
found. But it is in bad shape. Some scrap man sure did a number on
it. The main bearing caps are gone. The rod bearing, governor, fuel
pump, muffler, carburetor, coil, ignitor and step plates are
missing. The hopper had been dynamited, also cracking the area
around the ignitor hole. The engine had been rolled on the
flywheels, with the bearing cap gone. This measure had broken the
crank-case cover.

It is decided that it is still salvageable so let’s load it

As in most cases there were other projects that had to be done
before working on the Stickney.

After several years Dave had gotten married and there was a need
to get the family into a better house. So in 1983 some of
Dave’s engines, including the Stickney, were sold. This engine
was sold to Ed Edwards of Big Bend, California.

In 1984 Ed Banke of Carlton, Oregon purchased this engine. The
following is told in Ed Banke’s words.

Restoration was started by cleaning a wheelbarrow load of sand
and gravel from the crankcase. VA gallons of dirt was taken from
the combustion chamber.

The piston was stuck solid, 10′ diameter and 21′ long, a
lot of piston to rust in!

The piston could not be taken out through the crankcase as the
holes were too small. So, after 30 tons and lots of LP heat through
the water jacket holes, I punched it back about 2′ to clean up
the bore for forward removal. Then, after making a bridle
arrangement with the tie rods up each side and the hydraulic
cylinder up front, the piston was pushed by the connecting rod out
of the front of the cylinder, 10 hours and lots of heat later.

The rings were saved and in good shape. This engine had run very
little as minimal wear was found at all points. In speculation, the
engine appeared to have failed when a rock possibly had gotten into
the timing gears and broke three teeth in the crank gear and had
broken the governor off the engine.

The crank gear having two teeth gone and the third half there,
required some major repair. I welded up the partial and recut it.
The other two teeth that were gone I then made up on the mill, and
welded them in after making a jig to hold them. The large timing
gear was gone so I cast up a blank and made up tooling to cut it in
my little shop, 19? diameter, 56 teeth.

I rebuilt a 3 HP governor for the 20 HP as the majority of it is
the same as the 20 HP. A fuel pump had to be made from a 5 HP pump
as a pattern, the same only much taller. The main bearing caps were
gone (probably taken for their babbitt), so I made a maple pattern
and cast up a pair with the correct part numbers. All parts that I
cast have the correct numbers in the correct place, thanks to the
information furnished by Richard Geyer of DeSmet, South Dakota, who
has the other known 20 HP Stickney.

The carb and intake manifold was by far the biggest job of all.
After scaling the carb from pictures, and making up casting
patterns for the carb and manifold, cores for both had to be made.
A lot of work for a ‘one casting job’. Also the carb
insides had to be cored to duplicate the Stickney carb and make it
work well on the engine.

The carb and intake manifold took approximately 200 hours to
cast and machine.

The water hopper, although appearance-wise looks very bad, was
not nearly the job that the carb and manifold were. As the top 1/3
of the hopper was gone, I fabricated the missing casting out of
plate steel, made a couple of forming dies and with a hydraulic
press formed the crown of the hopper to match the original. The
hopper was welded solid and ground and ready for paint in
approximately 50 hours. The hopper appeared to have been dynamited;
probably some scrap man tried to reduce it to loading size many
years ago.

Also, when the main bearing caps were taken off, the crankcase
had fallen down on the conrod journal and broken a hole in the top
of the crankcase, which required careful repair. The crankshaft
dial, however, indicated dead straight and the journals were in
good shape.

Many smaller jobs needed to be done such as saving the 4′
valve heads and making up new stems for the valves, 7/8′
diameter stems.

The crankshaft is 4′ in diameter and is forged steel.

The job took very close to 1000 hours of welding, machining,
fabricating and painting.

This was a good winter project for any engine buff.

NOTE: This 20 HP Stickney was shown for the first time after
restoration at the National Meet of the Early Day Gas Engine &
Tractor Association in conjunction with the Great Oregon Steam Up,
Brooks, Oregon in 1987.

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