W.H. Dittemore shares his tips on collecting gas engines.
I found this 6 hp Fairbanks Morse (Serial No. 642031) in a
junkyard in Monahans, Texas. The upper one-half of the water hopper
was removed and a cast iron top put in its place. This had a
radiator and fan which ran off of a V belt pulled by the flywheel.
This looked like a factory conversion kit. I removed this and put
on an original open water hopper. The main bearings and piston were
oiled with a Madison Kipp force feed lubricator. I replaced this
with grease cups and a sight gravity oiler as seen in the
I enjoy collecting and restoring old one-cylinder, water cooled,
stationary gasoline engines. Here are some tips on collecting gas engines.
I have five engines. They are a 6 hp Fairbanks Morse Type Z
that left the factory on Dec. 1, 1925, a 2 hp Type Z style D
self-oiling Fairbanks Morse, a 3 to 5 hp Model LA I.H.C., a
1.5 and a 3 hp Model E John Deere engines.
All the engines have high tension magnetos and spark plugs except
the two John Deere’s which have low tension magnetos with an
It takes patience and an understanding wife to restore these
engines. My wife Jane helps me and listens to my sad tale of woe
when I can’t make an engine run or cannot find a part. One also
must either be or know an excellent machinist, a welder, and a
mechanic who are sympathetic to the cause.
The first rule in collecting engines is never, never turn over
the flywheel on these engines until you are sure that every part is
free. If you do you will break the exhaust valve rocker arm, the
casting that holds the governor (Fairbanks Morse), the magneto
armature shaft may be broken (John Deere), or bend or twist some
vital part that cannot be replaced.
I have found that the best way to free an engine is to use lots
of penetrating oil, kerosene, cylinder oil and lots of patience. I
have had good luck freeing a stuck piston by taking the head off
and soaking the piston with penetrating oil and later with just
plain oil mixed with kerosene. This may take from a few hours to
three weeks. I usually start the piston moving by tapping it with a
piece of wood the same size as the bore. I disconnect the
connecting rod before removing the piston. This prevents damage to
the connecting rod bearing.
Rust can best be removed by soaking the parts in kerosene and
then using a wire scratch wheel on a grinder or an electric
The most vulnerable part of an engine is the magneto. This is
the hardest part to restore and the most expensive to replace if
missing . The magneto as a source of electric current is fast going
out of style. Parts are hard to find especially for magnetos 30 to
40 years old. Burned points and rotten insulation are the most
frequent ailments of magnetos.
Valve Springs are usually rusted and broken. Valve Springs of
the correct tension are hard to find.
I got this 1.5 hp Model E John Deere
engine in Hillsboro, Texas, about four years ago and after lots of
work it runs like a top. Mr. J. D. Russell of Lancaster, Texas saw
it and reserved it for me.
A valve with the correct stem and head diameter can be
ground at the same angle as the seat and successfully used.
Paint must be mixed to match the original color. Of course, John
Deere and late model I.H.C. engines are no problem. It seems that
Oliver paint is a real close match to the Fairbanks Morse color.
Does any one know the color of the old Type Model M I.H.C. engines?
Were Fairbanks Morse engines always dark green?
Gasket can be made with little trouble. Piston rings can be
ordered from the major piston ring companies. I like to hear these
engines run, although I do not have any kind of work for them to
I know of only three other people in Texas who are interested in
old engines. Mr. J. D. Russell of Lancaster, Texas, a mechanic has
given me a great deal of good advice and owns about 30 or 35
engines. Mr. T.H. Krueger of San Antonio has a large collection of
engines also. I have not met him but have corresponded with
Mr. Johnnie Joe Hajek of Paducah, Texas has a few engines.
I work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation
Service as a Soil Scientist. I see these engines during the course
of my work and go back later to try to find the owner and try to
buy them. Most people are very friendly and very helpful.
Here in this part of Texas most of the country is made up of
large ranches, most of the water is and has been pumped by
windmills. However there are still a few engines available if you
can find them, their owners, and if their owners are willing to
sell them. I hope to collect and restore many more engines before
the junk man gets around. I would also like to find an old gas
tractor to restore. I would like an Avery which I threshed with as
a boy, an Advance Rumely or another old Model D John Deere.
A picture of myself with my Fuller & Johnson,
2.5 hp upright. This gasoline engine, S.N.
3659 was shipped from the factory in Madison, Wisconsin, November
The speed is 400 with a bore of 4.5 and a
stroke of 6 feet. It has a hit and miss governor. For ignition it
uses battery and ignitor.
Fuller and Johnson made uprights in two sizes, 1 and
2.5 hp, but they never made very many of
them. More of the 1 hp were made than the
2.5 hp size.
The cart under the engine. is not original – I built it to move
it around, as the engine weighs about 500 lbs.
Recordings of Gas Engines and Gas Tractors
Twelve inch record of a variety of old-time gas tractors Rumely Oil-Pull climbing
difficult hill, huge Wallis-Bear Gas Tractor, Minneapolis, Baker,
Case Gas Tractors on belt and plowing. Let me make you up a variety
of these fine old historic gas tractors on a record, $6.50
postpaid. Also a record of old-time gas engines popping a variety of
exhausts all different on a 12 inch record, $6.50 postpaid. Recorded in
separate groove sections on record for easy location by playing needle.
Diesel Railroad Record, Record of PRR Diesel Freights, growling
their heavy, long trains through zero winter weather. Hear train after train whistling for the town crossings. Also the plaintive,
melodious whistle of the evening local freight diesel as it
Switches and pulls through the distant countryside. 12 inch record,
33 rpm $6.50 postpaid.
Fahnestock Studio, Union City, Indiana
This photo is of the 15-30 McCormick-Deering tractor which we
restored in 1964.
5 hp Stickney at the 1965 Boonville Steam Engine Show. Left to
right: Owner, Russell Moss, Reuben Hartley, Clarence McCutchan,
George Hawley, and Hugh Johnston, all from Hamilton, Missouri.
This is an “Old Minnie” Minneapolis 25-50 hp 4
cylinder, 6.125 inch bore with serial number 109. It is a most
faithful and ideal engine for threshing and hulling seed peas. I
run both ends alone and it ran from daylight until dark. I had just
pulled into the shop storage. at Manhattan, Montana in December
1925. Note the snow on the ground.
The Georgian Bay Pioneer Steam, Gas, Automative and Antique
Association is having its first show, on July Ist and 2nd. The show
will be held at our local fair grounds. There will be all makes and
sizes of Steam Engines, traction, stationary, and marine, also many
types of gasoline engines, and quite a few old cars. Most of the
engines will be working. Motels are plentiful in the area. Located
north of Barrie, Ontario, Canada. For information, write
Robert C. Ernst, Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
Tri-State Gasoline Engine and Tractor Association
First Annual Meet. July 9-10, 1966 at the Ft. Recovery Fair
Grounds at Ft. Recovery, Ohio. For more Information write Wood
Turner, President at R.R. 6, Portland, Indiana or Morris Titus, See.
at R.R. 2, Pendleton, Indiana.
The Pioneer Gas Engine Association, Inc. will hold their 1966
Reunion on July 29, 30 and 31, 1966 at Fairville, New York on Route
88 between Sodus on Route 104 and Newark on Route 31. Dorothy
Smith, Secretary., Ontario, New York.
Threshing oats on our farm in 1965 with our Oil Pull 30-50-Y and
Our 7 hp Stickney Engine Hit and Miss.
8 hp Otto Engine bought two years ago. The man we bought it
from was a contractor. He put in piling at the coast of New Jersey.
He used this Otto to saw up timbers used at that time. He told me
he purchased it from a Thread Mill in Mount Holly, New Jersey. We
restored it and have it running. It has not been painted as
We bought this 6 hp Witte engine from the original owner’s
son. He had all bills and price of engine, books and price list,
also the bill stating cost and freight charge. The engine number is
61482 and was used as a rig saw. The purchase price was $243.50 and
was bought on December 9, 1932.
We also have a catalog, (How to Judge Engines), No. 49, By Ed.
H. Witte, Master Engine Builder.
Letter From Gas Engine Magazine Readers
By Mr. Morris
Blomgren, Siren, Wisconsin
I am sending a picture of the other side of my Avery tractor as
there was a little difference of opinion as to the size.
I want to thank those who wrote me in regard to the tractor. I
sure enjoyed them. Those who wrote me were as follows: Mr. John
Hinkle, East Berlin, Pennsylvania, saying it to be 25-50 hp
He thinks it was made in the 1920’s.
Mr. C. M. Benjaminson, Edinburg, North Dakota, thinks
it is 12-25 hp., 6-1/2 piston and 7 inch stroke.
Mr. T. H. Krueger, 1615 San Francisco Street, San Antonio,
Texas, thinks it is 20-35 hp and came out in probably 1911, built
for 5 to 7 years.
Ted Worrall, Lorna, Montana, said if it was a two cylinder, it would
be a 20-35 hp and looks like the one in his 1914 catalog as close
as to the canopy over the governor.
Mr. E. R. Potter, 1205 — 8th Avenue, Saskstoon, thinks it is
20-35 H. P. taken off the market about 1915-16 and replaced with 4
cylinder opposed 18-36.
Mr. Clifford A. Caron, R. R. 1, Fairbault, Minnesota, said it
looked to him to be a 20-35 hp which was built from 1911 to 1916.
He is interested in anyone having any Red Coop tractor catalogs or
tractor field books for years 1916–1917–1918–1920–and–1923
through 1926 and tractor review magazines for sale. He said he
would pay a good price for these.
Mr. Ovid I. Stevens of Barnard, South Dakota, writes that he has
a brass carburetor and a small flywheel and the valves in the head.
studied the picture and says it looks to him to be a 20-35 H. P.
put out in 1913 and a year or two later. Mr. Steven’s letter
heading reads — Oak’s Repair Shop
“Anything repaired but a broken heart.”