What A Great Feeling To Have It Work So Well!

| November/December 1997

  • 12 HP Witte engine

  • 12 HP Witte engine

6680 N. Alvernon Way Tucson, Arizona 85718

Here is a picture of my pride and joy 12 HP Witte. It was two years ago this month that I took an interest in these old engines. I joined the local tractor and engine club two years ago and decided to take a tractor that I had restored to the county fair. While I was there, I started to ask questions about the old engines, and since I have an inclination toward old rusty iron, I realized that I had to have one. I soon found out that they are not easy to come by. I did get some leads from some of the club members, and after several calls and some more leads, I had my first engine.

 I really got the bug and kept looking for other engines. I followed up on any lead I could get. Since my brother was venturing into Mexico looking for old stone grinding wheels, I asked him to keep his eyes open for an old engine. One day he came by with a picture of an engine he had found. I could tell from the picture that it was a Witte, and by my brother's description I guessed that it was a 6 HP. He said that the owner would sell it and that there was a part for the engine locked in a nearby shed. I told him that I was interested, and on his next trip he bought the engine. The item in the shed turned out be the mag. When he got home, he called me and said that it sure was heavy. I went by to have a look and it turned out to be a 12 HP!

I spent about six months restoring the engine. It was very complete with the exception of some of the carburetor parts, oiler and exhaust push rod. The piston was stuck but in a position to protect the cylinder. I approached this project slowly as I did not want to break anything. I took everything apart and even managed to get the piston out without breaking the rings (which I reused). The cylinder was in great condition and there was nothing cracked or broken anywhere on the engine. The head studs were badly rusted, which I understand is common for Wittes, and most of them broke off when trying to remove them. I had new studs made, did a lot of re-taping of threads and a lot of cleaning, but everything went very well.

I decided that I would make a wagon to move the engine around and for display. I later found out that it is difficult to back up a wagon and that I need a lot of practice.

I sandblasted the parts and painted it a dark green. I reassembled it on the wagon and it went together without any problems. I did have to re-time the exhaust. When I took it apart, I marked the timing so as to get it back together the same way. It turned out to be way off. I was curious to see what the compression was like, and it had good compression. In fact, I can't turn it over through a compression stroke. I was concerned about starting it. That concern went away when I bought an operator's handbook that described the 'back kick method' for starting. It sounded so simple.


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