A rusty treasure becomes a treasured relic

| October 2007


Chris Markley didn’t know what brand of engine he bought in Freeport, Ill., and he still doesn’t know exactly what it is, though he bought a Field-Brundage Co. Type W tag to accompany it when finished.

The 2006 Freeport, Ill., engine show was very hot. This was the first time I had taken an engine to this show, and the first time I had taken engines to show anywhere. I took a Stover, New Way, Cushman, Fuller & Johnson and Root & VanDervoort. I went for one day only: Saturday, July 29. The wife and boys joined me later in the day. I found a spot under a tree where I could set up. Somebody, because of the heat, must have left this spot the night before.

Walking around, I found a trailer in the back of the engine section with a large selection of rusty treasures. In the pile I could see one flywheel engine. It was in sad shape. The detent arm running off the camshaft was broken, the igniter was gone, no exhaust arm, the valves and piston were stuck, no nametag, no paint, no muffler, no idea what it was. After talking to the vendor for a little bit, a price was agreed on and I had a new toy.

After getting home, I took the head off and saw right away that the bore was too pitted to run. The bearings looked good; I could find no breaks anywhere. I also found a casting date on the block of February 1917. The engine looked like a Field-Brundage/Sattley/Wolverine/Type W/P.J. Downes of about 1-1/2 HP. All were made by FB, and both the Sattley (for Montgomery Ward) and the Type W were made about the same time. I had no tag, but the full base made it look like a Sattley. Then again, the lack of a speed control by the wheel made it look like a Type W. I didn't know which way to go. The engine has a 3-1/2-inch bore and 4-inch stroke, and the flywheels are 19-1/2 inches with a 1-3/4-inch width.

First things first: Get the piston out. The piston was stuck toward the back of the stroke, so I used electrolysis from the head side for a couple weeks. I cleaned the back of the cylinder as well as I could, so there wouldn't be a lot of rust for the piston to get bound by. After that, I tried moving it with a block of wood and hammer, but nothing. Next, I went to the grill method. One day, when the wife was gone, I took the grates and lava rocks out of the family barbecue grill, put the block in the grill, and fired her up. This melted the babbitt out of the top of the connecting rod, but pouring that was something I wanted to try anyway. (No, I did not think of it before it happened, but such is life).

I let the block soak in the heat for about an hour, then took it out of the grill and set it on the ground. After cooling for a few minutes, I put water into the back side of the piston. I figured the piston was small enough that it would shrink a little without causing any damage. Then I took the block to work and put it on the 10-ton press. I was planning on building a little pressure and leaving it overnight. As soon as I got a good bit of pressure on my wood block, which was concave on the piston side, the press jumped. So did I. The piston moved a little. After that it was just a matter of pushing it out the rest of the way. The piston came out looking good. The cylinder was too pitted to think about doing anything other than to have it sleeved. I took the block to Terry Pfeiffer of Freeport, and he bored and sleeved the block for me.

The next task was to find some parts. I was going on a trip with my father and brother to the Portland, Ind., show for the first time. I hoped to find things I might need there. What a show! I found the exhaust arm and replacement valves. I also found a Webster igniter bracket for that model of engine. The problem was it cost more than the engine did. I kind of wanted a low-tension igniter anyway, so I did not have to find a magneto. I found the camshaft trip arm from Hit and Miss Enterprises. I also bought a new set of rings.