Read all about the restoration of this stunning 1905 Stover vertical engine
Langhuisterweg 45 9076 PL Sint Anna Parochie, The Netherlands
When visiting some engine collectors in the southern part of Holland, where I had picked up a fuel pump for my Blackstone vertical, we came to a collector with a magnificent collection of engines. Parts of his collection are an inverted Durkopff, a Blackstone hot bulb, and a Crossley sideshaft.
While we were looking around in his engine shed, my eye fell on a flywheel lying under his workbench. We discussed it and I was told it was a vertical Stover 'A' type and he said this was the first style Stover vertical with a one-piece cylinder/frame.
I asked him if it was or sale and he told me it was, but he warned me that it was in very bad condition. We looked at it as it was standing under the bench, and it was obvious that the cylinder had been cracked, as there was a layer of bronze on it where it had been repaired. It was all in parts scattered around, so it was difficult to get an idea of its shape. At this point, I did not seriously think of buying the engine, and later we drove home after a nice day of having seen many engines.
When I came home I told my dad about the Stover, and we took the 'Big Yellow Book' to see how it would actually look. The rest of the week, the engine was always in my mind and we discussed much about it. We both agreed that it would be a nice item to add to our collection. At the end of the week, I called the owner and asked if it was complete, and the condition of the rest of the engine. He told me that most of the parts were there, and we agreed that we would come and look the next Saturday. He would collect all the parts that were all around in his engine shed, and assemble the engine so we could see what it was like.
The next Saturday, August 6, 1994, we made the trip back to him, and when we arrived, he had already assembled the engine. It was far worse than we thought. The igniter and the igniter trip device were missing, the rocker arm was broken and one half missing, and the fuel pump lever was lost. The worst thing seemed to be the approximately ?' thick layer of welding bronze on the side of the cylinder. You can only imagine what would be underneath it. Last but not least, the cylinder head was cracked in two places. However, it sure was nice in appearance, with its large diameter narrow flywheels. We discussed whether to buy it or not, but in the end we decided to take it. We took it apart and loaded the pieces into the car.
The next day we reassembled it again to take a few pictures and to figure out how to start the restoration of the engine. First, we would take the bronze from the cylinder to see how bad the damage would be. Well, after the bronze had been removed, things were only looking worse. There were nine cracks in the water jacket, three going from top to bottom. We decided to set it aside until we had figured out how to repair it. A couple of months later, we had a discussion with some engine collectors and they told us they had a cracked cylinder head and it was repaired by a company who could do metal spraying. They told us that their head had been repaired and it just looked like cast iron when it was done. The company was only 70 miles from us, so we called them and made an arrangement to meet a couple of weeks later. We went to them and they said they were able to fix it. We left the engine to have it repaired.
The next step was to find out what the broken and missing parts looked like. After lots of measuring and looking in the book, Power in the Past, Volume 3 (Stover Mfg. & Engine Company), we made some patterns from wood with the help of Henk Herrema who has all the equipment for this job. After we made all the patterns we brought them to the foundry, and they made the castings for us. All this took a lot of time, and in the meantime we were going on with the restoration of our Associated Six Mule Team.
When we got the engine block back and the castings, we left it alone for one year, because we were working on the Associated to get it ready for the next show season.
It was almost two years later before we got to work on the Stover again. We first made the hole in the upper rocker arm and made a new pivot pin for it. Next came the lower rocker arm, which supports the cam roller; we made the hole and then had to remove the middle part of the fork where the roller would come. The next step was the cylinder head. The exhaust valve was bent and rusted. I cut the stem of the valve just above the guide, and was able to get it out. The guides and the seats, however, were very bad. We decided to put in oversize valves. We reamed the valve guides from 5/16'** to 3/8'** bores. Next, a friend who does head revisions as his job, inserted new rings in the head. He had some old Caterpillar valves that would fit perfectly in the guides, and he ground the valve heads to fit the new seats. That work done, the cylinder head was like new. We cut the valve stems to the correct length and cut 3/8**' threads on them. This wasn't easy, as the stems were very hard. We made them red hot and let them cool for a while. When they were cool enough we put them in the chuck of the lathe and cut the thread.
Next we attacked the mounting hole of the camshaft; the shaft is mounted in a hole in the block, which has a collar. The collar was cracked, but fortunately was still there. We removed it and cleaned it thoroughly. We reassembled the shaft in the right position, drilled a hole through the collar and shaft, and cut threads in the lower part so it could be clamped to the block. We took it apart again, applied some very strong industrial glue, and mounted it back again.
The next part was to make a new igniter--with only some drawings from the Stover book, it seemed it would be quite difficult. When we made the patterns for the foundry, we had also made one for the igniter body so, we started with a rough piece of cast iron. First, we made it smooth on both the front and back sides. Next, we drilled two holes about 1' apart for the electrodes. One of these holes was reamed at 3/8' so it would give a perfect fir to a valve stem. We made the moveable electrode from an old 3/8' valve and welded a hammer on the end. We made an insulated electrode and riveted the contact points on both. Then we made the trip finger and some other small parts. All of this was a lot of trial and error. Now the igniter was ready and tested and it gave a nice spark when attached to a coil. Next was to make the igniter tripping device. We had to mount the head, the rocker arm, and the cam gear. Now we had the correct distance between the igniter and the pushrod. Making the trip finger device took a lot of time. The hard thing was to make it look original and work properly. The next thing was the fuel pump; the check balls were badly rusted and the pump cam was missing. The seats were also pitted, so with a ball of the same diameter welded on an electrode and some valve grinding paste, the seat was refurbished. We machined a new pump gland cap. I machined it from a solid bronze bar and the tricky thing was to cut the thread on the inside because it was very narrow. We made a new fuel tank and a temporary cooling tank from an old fire extinguisher. At this point, most parts were made, and it became time to reassemble the engine. All of the bearings were surprisingly good, as were the cylinder and piston; even the old piston rings were good. After it was all together again it was time to make it run for the first in (???) many years. We filled the fuel tank and the water tank, pumped fuel up until the mixer was overflowing, hooked up the battery, and turned the flywheels over. After twice having pulled through the compression, it took off, and was actually running on its own! This gave us a great feeling after so much work. It was running very constant at approximately 180 rpm. We thought it could run even slower and, with some experimenting with the governor spring, we had it running at 140 rpm. This was on August 5, 1997, exactly three years after we brought it home. We thought it would be a good idea to take the engine to a show and have it run for a complete day, and see if there were things that had to be modified. However, we started at the show at 10:00 a.m., it had been running until 5:00 p.m., and it never stopped or even misfired. Now we knew we could take it apart and paint it. Before restoring the engine, we decided to make a cart for it. We had some oak left from another cart we made, and cut the wooden layers to the correct size, and made kind of points at the ends. Then we made the battery box from oak. We varnished the woodwork, sandblasted the wheels, and painted them. The cart was assembled and set aside waiting for the engine to be mounted. The last part that had to be made was the name tag. After studying the Stover book, looking at the tags, we were quite sure how it should look. We made a drawing on the computer, and made a sticker of it. The sticker was mounted on a clean copper plate, then laid in an acid bath for two hours, then cleaned and painted black. After the paint dried, the high spots were sanded so just the letters and the text are in copper.
The engine was totally taken apart and every part was sandblasted. We decided to make it very smooth with filler to work away all the visible repairs. Another plus point is that the engine is easy to clean. It's an open crank and the oil will be thrown out by the openings in the crankcase. After two months of sanding, all the parts were ready to paint. This was done in two steps. The first day we put primer and filler on the engine. The next day we sanded it in the morning and painted it in the afternoon. We used DuPont Centari No. 93-2564-H, a deep red color. The spokes of the flywheels needed to be painted in a light green. We made eight half-rings in the diameter of the flywheel (from the outside of the spokes to the rim), and stuck them on the flywheel outside. Then the flywheel was painted again in a green color. The rings were removed and the result was a green flywheel with a red ring on the outside. Then the lettering STOVER WORKS FREEPORT, ILL. U.S.A. was painted on the flywheel in bright yellow. This was almost a day's work. The engine block was put on the cart, and the engine was further assembled. The engine was ready. The final task was to make a cooling tank. Originally, there was a large cooling tank of approximately 17 gallons, however, we thought this was too much for a two horsepower engine running without load. We decided to make a large galvanized cooling tank with a small separate tank inside. The large tank was made by a neighbor who works at a company that fabricates sheet metal. The small tank, which was made from an old fire extinguisher, was mounted inside the tank. All the pipe connections were made and water was poured in to see if there were any leaks. Everything seemed to be okay so the moment of truth was almost there. We filled the gasoline tank, installed a new lawnmower battery, closed the switch, a few spins on the flywheel, and it was running! It's a great feeling when you have an engine operating for the first time after a restoration.
Two weeks later, we had a small engine show just four miles away, and of course, the Stover was going along to the show. It ran all day without problems, and attracted many spectators. We have brought the Stover to many shows during the 1998 show season, and it always started at the first try, to run all day.
Now, I would like to thank the following people who helped with the restoration of this engine. Thanks to Gerrit Venema for restoring the cylinder head, and mounting new valve seats. I also want to thank Henk Herrema, a good friend, for his help with all the woodwork. I also want to thank Jeff and Marja Allen from Edmonton, Canada, for their help in putting this story together.
We are currently restoring an old International Nonpareil. The engine is in very bad condition, the block was broken in pieces, and it was put together with plates and rivets, but we seem to like these 'old verticals.'