A Bull Dog Gets its Bark Back

Peter Rooke tackles a Bates and Edmonds Bull Dog that lives up to its name - Part 1 of 4

| October 2008

A friend brought news a 1-1/2 HP Bates & Edmonds Motor Co. Bull Dog engine was for sale - at a modest price as numerous parts were missing and, while there were some castings copied from a similar engine, they all required some complex machining. The price was little more than for a set of castings for a model gas engine, so I agreed to buy it unseen.

This was a little rash as the whereabouts of the engine whose parts were used as patterns for the casting were unknown. I would need to locate a similar engine so I could take measurements in order to machine all the missing parts, but I had faith in the gas engine community from the advice received on earlier projects and that help would be forthcoming from somewhere in the world.

I was told it was a heavy engine for its size and this was an understatement - 350 pounds for a 1-1/2 HP engine; this was some over engineering! These engines were later re-rated at 2 HP by increasing the engine speed.

One sick puppy

After collecting the engine, I could not wait to get it home to examine it properly. The bore appeared excellent, and after looking at it more closely, I could see that it had been sleeved. The castings were all there although I would have to make a crankshaft, and a mixer was clearly needed as all that remained of the original was a 1-inch rusty stub sticking out of the cylinder head.

At some stage the engine had been converted from low to high tension as a hole had been drilled and tapped in the cylinder head for a spark plug. The remains of the igniter had been welded up, and there was a chain sprocket fitted on the main gear wheel, clearly used to drive a magneto.

The first task was to undertake some research and try to gather information about the engine - easier said than done. There was a section in American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 by C.H. Wendel about Bates & Edmonds, which mentioned that a great many of the engines were sold by the Fairbanks Engine Co. of New York (not to be confused with Fairbanks Morse and all the other Fairbanks companies). Bull Dog engines were made between 1902 and 1923, and in 1924 Bates & Edmonds became the Hill Diesel Engine Co.

The name tag on this engine had long since disappeared, and the area on the cylinder head where any serial number would have been stamped was covered with deep pitting from rust. No numbers were discernable, even after frequent attempts to clean the surface with emery cloth and the use of a magnifying glass. The only clue was the straight-line casting of the Bull Dog name in the side of the water hopper, rather than curved, indicating that it was a later engine.


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