One of my favorite things to do when I go to the Portland (Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Assn. Swap & Sell) show each May is to look for parts and a project engine to work on during the winter months.
On the first day on the show grounds in 2008 I saw a Stover vertical in need of serious restoration. Each day I would stop to look it over to see if it could be repaired, and each time I saw something different.
The last day on the grounds I decided if it was still there I would take it home. Sure enough, it was still there. I made the deal and started to load it. There were the usual comments like “That is a piece of junk” and “Are you taking that to the scrap yard?”
After I returned home and had it in my shop, I took a closer look and determined my work was cut out for me. I emailed Joe Maurer for some info, and he responded that it was a Type A 2 HP Pumper that had been shipped to Mitchell Lewis & Saner in Portland, Ore., on June 9, 1905, for export to Argentina.
Since my primary background is with IHCs, I had lots to learn about Stovers, which involved a lot of talking with Stover folks and spending more money than I expected to.
I found the engine had two major problems: One flywheel needed to be replaced, and the fuel pump, igniter and trip arms were all missing. Emails were dispatched asking for help. Several collectors responded with info, and I was fortunate that some of them lent me original parts to copy.
My main goal was to have an igniter on this engine, and I felt that would be the hardest part to find. I posted some pictures and asked for more help. A good engine friend called to tell me he had one original igniter and would be willing to part with it. At this point I was one happy person.
I made a pattern, cast and machined the broken flywheel, and did some minor repairs on the second one with a bolt and a steel ring clamp to strengthen it.
The next step was to bring the crankshaft into spec, bore the cylinder, spray-weld the piston and add new rings. At this point the engine was starting to take shape.
The water jacket had some small cracks that needed repair, and I decided to stitch the cracks in the water jacket rather than welding them. That worked well as it left no distortion on the surface.
Next, with the help of a collector friend, I started to set the original flywheel on the crankshaft. I found there was a crown in the center of the flywheel, caused by being loose and wobbling on the crankshaft for many years. It went to a machine shop for a cleanup cut. I had to insert a spacer to allow for the pinch bolt to tighten and be held in place. This was important because on this engine the flywheel drove the cam gear with a pin insert.
The next thing on my list was to time the engine. The gears were a major problem as both were worn so badly that timing was almost impossible and required milling 1/4-inch out of the center of the timing gear and then making a cam to fill the space. That gave enough adjustment to set the timing and fix the governor so it could work to control the speed of the engine.
As the original look began to resurface, I decided a base was needed. Other collectors shared pictures of different shapes with me. Nothing caught my eye, so I decided to be creative and, using a hot glue gun and some cardboard, I came up with a shape for the base that would give it just the look I wanted. I was going to make a pattern and cast the base but in a discussion with a good friend, who is also a collector that possesses a talent with a welder and grinder that borders on the light fantastic, he said he could make the base for me and put the gas tank inside. I accepted the offer. He also made the muffler trip mechanism.
The last phase was to create an original old look, and my friend provided an antiquing finish that, in my opinion, is second to none.
That concludes the story about my Stover that was made in the USA, shipped to Argentina in 1905, only to come back home to the USA more than a hundred years later to undergo restoration and now, in 2013, is running like a pumper.
This was possible as the result of help from many of the great engine folks who were willing to share the time, information and talents that continue to keep collecting engines alive. Their help was much appreciated, and without them and their knowledge this Stover restoration would have never reached the final results that I am so pleased with.
Contact Don Oberholtzer at 603 South Main St., Columbiana, OH 44408 • 330-482-4097 • AGEE1@aol.com