Two for the Price of One

By Staff
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A before and after shot in the same photo? Not hard when you
have two of the same engine. The engine to the left is a 1936 IHC
LA, serial number LA29036. The unit at right, serial number
LA11469, is a 1935 LA. With major parts missing, George says he
won’t restore this engine.

At 175 pounds these were light engines – they were also
inexpensive, priced at $71.75 in 1936. LAs saw duty in a wide
variety of settings, from running mud pumps and cement mixers to
water pumps and generators. While not all engine collectors are
drawn to LAs, the buying public of the 1930s obviously was. This
basic engine stayed in production until 1938, and during that time
an estimated 42,000 were built.

In November of 2000 I went to the Bob Oreck auction and was the
successful bidder on a lot of two engines: One complete
International Harvester LA and one parts LA.

Now, I looked at these engine several times during the day, but
somehow it wasn’t until I began loading them up that I saw
their faults that I wondered what I had done. I paid how much for
this junk?

The next day I unloaded the engines into the barn and got ready
to go deer hunting, and it wasn’t until mid-December that I had
time to look them over. The complete engine appeared stuck, and
upset with myself for buying it in the first place I gave it a
swift kick. Good heavens, it moved! A little oil and some playing
had it moving well.

Although the LA turned over, George pulled the head and cleaned
out the water jacket before priming and painting the engine.

This is what the engines looked like when George bought them.
The LA that George eventually restored is the unit in the
foreground. The LA behind it has been relegated to parts

Okay, it rotated, and with the plug in it also had compression.
Next I look for spark. None. I pulled the cap, cleaned the magneto
terminal and, by golly, spark. Then the big question: Would it
fire? A little gas in the cylinder, plug wire connected, spin the
flywheel. It ran! Well, maybe it wasn’t such a bad deal after

George Lane’s 1936 IHC LA, serial number LA29036. Introduced
in 1934, these engines carried a 1-1/2/2-1/2 HP rating. A larger
engine rated at 3/5 HP was introduced the next year.

The underside of the gas tank taken off LA29036. George removed
the rusted bottom, fashioned and soldered on a new one, and then
lined the tank with tank sealant before returning it to duty on the
restored LA. Compare this with the photo at left showing the
finished tank.

There was no gas line to the mixer, so I jerry-rigged a line and
connected it to a gas tank from a lawnmower. I ran it for about two
minutes and then shut it down. I removed the rotted 4 x 4 skids,
and then pulled the flywheel and pulley, which both came off
easily. As I was cleaning up the hopper and body I noticed a large
blob of lead where the freeze plug should have been. There was no
freeze plug, only a makeshift repair, and that’s when I noticed
the pulley side of the hopper had a 1/2-inch by 3-inch score in it
made by the belt rubbing against the hopper. I decided to fill the
score with JB Weld, and I think that was a good decision since
it’s a non-structural repair. I removed the lead and installed
a proper plug.

I removed the head, only to discover it had been cracked and
re-welded, but whoever did the welding did a very good job. I spent
some time cleaning debris out of the water jacket and passages in
the head while I tried to decide what to do about the weld on the
crack. Ultimately, I opted not to grind down the weld, since I
might sell the LA someday and I wouldn’t want to cover it up. I
reground the valves and painted the head.

The skids were originally red, so after cleaning them up I
repainted them the original color. After priming and repainting,
the engine was reassembled, the valves were adjusted, the mixer
cleaned and the skids put back on.

Flywheel side of George’s LA. Light weight and metal skids
with supplied handholds made these easy engines to move around.

The gas tank on the LA looked good from the top, but there
wasn’t any bottom left. Some grinding, cutting and soldering
saw a new bottom on the tank, and as added insurance I coated the
inside of the tank with a gas tank sealant.

When I finally finished it up it ran like a top. Unfortunately,
it wasn’t until after I was done that my son informed me I had
put the IHC double globe decal on upside down. I guess I should
have put my glasses on when I was applying the decal. Oh well, it
adds character.

Here’s one thing about having two engine the same – it
allows for a before and after picture in the same shot. I’m
going to sell or trade the second engine, as it’s missing the
magneto and mixer and will be too costly to rebuild.

Many thanks to Hit & Miss Enterprises for parts and

Contact engine enthusiast George Lane at: P.O. Box 285, New
Boston, Ml 48164.

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