Gas Engine Magazine

1919 Eaton Restoration – Part 1 of 3

By Staff

The T. Eaton Co. was founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1869, and went on to become one of Canada’s largest department store retailers, selling innumerable items and its catalog found in most homes in Canada. The chain went bankrupt in 1999, with its assets being acquired by Sears Canada.

Although Eaton sold stationary engines, it never manufactured them, all its stock being bought in, with Nelson Bros. Co., Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. and Stover Mfg. & Engine Co. supplying them.

My engine was manufactured by Stover and is a Model V. Stover keeper of the flame Joe Maurer helpfully looked up the details of this engine in the records of the Stover Mfg. & Engine Co. that are stored in the Silver Creek Museum in Freeport, Illinois, home of Stover. Joe was able to tell me that this Stover was shipped to Eaton at their Winnipeg store on Dec. 10, 1919, and was supplied complete with a magneto.

Getting started

This engine is smaller than my last project (the 1914 4-1/2 hp John Smyth restoration chronicled previously in these pages) and was thankfully easy to manhandle from the back of the delivery truck when it arrived. I had seen photographs before I bought it and knew that parts were missing, namely the governor weights and latch, as well as the igniter trip. The cylinder head would require some work, and I would have to fabricate a fuel tank and find a muffler and crank guard.

This engine was something of an enigma. The cylinder head was in a terrible state and covered in rust, yet the cylinder bore looked perfect and there was very little rust on the flywheel rims. As I got into the restoration, I formed the view that at some point someone had started to restore it, lining the cylinder and replacing some of the studs with new UNC bolts.

The first task was to see what else needed attention, so the engine was stripped starting with the flywheels. After cleaning, the exposed parts of the crankshaft with emery cloth to remove surface rust and a couple of burrs were removed with a file. The headed gib key on the left flywheel was removed using a curved key extractor, but there was a headless key in the other flywheel. After oiling the crankshaft an hydraulic extractor was used to remove both the key and the flywheel, which, fortunately, were not firmly locked in place. If the flywheel had been tight the key would have been drilled out to avoid the risk of splitting the flywheel hub.

Once the flywheels were free the crankshaft and piston were removed. The piston showed no real signs of wear and the rings were tight and fitted the grooves well. The wrist pin was locked in place with a hex-head grub screw, which will be replaced with a traditional square-head bolt. Upon closer examination, it was clear that the cylinder bore had indeed been lined, the piston being a tight fit. Further, it was discovered that the cam gear had been brazed to restore its original shape and that the crankshaft had been well worn by the movement of the governor sleeve.

The fuel mixer was rusted to the cylinder head, so the retaining bolt was unscrewed before the mixer was given a sharp rap with a rawhide hammer, and then penetrating fluid was applied and left to work overnight before it was finally removed.

With everything removed from the engine block it was examined for obvious cracks and damage, but looked good. The paint work looked relatively modern, so to verify this the two rivets holding the name tag in place were drilled out and the tag removed. This revealed nearly black paint. This appeared to be similar to what the original dark green that Stover used would now look like after aging

To see if there was any original paint remaining underneath the “new” paint covering on the rest of the engine some paint thinner was applied to a rag and the paint wiped. The paint gradually disappeared in the test area, but only revealed clean metal and no signs of original paint. If the new paint were removed the engine would only be bare metal with little rust or character, so it looked like a repaint would be required. This is something I am reluctant to do, preferring to keep an engine in its original work clothes. However, that would not be practical in this case.


The fit of the wrist pin in the little end bearing was not sloppy, so it was left unchanged. The big end bearing was a loose fit even with no shims fitted and would need to be re-poured. There were no shims to the main crankshaft bearings, but the bearing metal stood proud at the edges. This was tidied up and there was enough metal in the main bearings to allow shims to be fitted.

The first step with the connecting rod bearing was to heat the old bearing metal to remove it. The shells were then cleaned, and in view of the small size of the retaining lugs the surface of the shell was heated and tinned with powdered tin so the new metal would stick well to it.

Some temporary shims were then made and the bearing shells were clamped together using temporary bolts. Making use of scraps of steel from the bin, a dummy end cap and a 1-inch-diameter core piece were made to use when casting the new bearing. Once ready, they were lightly greased before setting up the connecting rod on a fire brick. Fireclay was used to seal around the bearing and provide a dam at the top to hold the molten material. This fireclay was then gently heated, taking care to dry out any moisture.

Before starting to heat the bearing material, an old towel was soaked in water and then wrung out so it was damp, ready to be used to trap any spills. Thick overalls, gloves and a safety visor were worn, ready to start. The metal pot was heated until the white metal was hot enough to singe a pine stick. A blow torch was used at the same time to heat the connecting rod and mold until hot enough to melt soft solder, at which point the metal was poured into the mold and left to cool. Once completely cool the fireclay was broken away and the core of the mold pressed out.

After removing the retaining bolts and temporary shims, the new bearing metal was sawn through to release the bearing end cap and the process of scraping the bearing to fit the crankshaft journal started. Engineer’s blue was applied to the journal, the bearing then fitted around it to identify the high spots, which were removed with scrapers. This process was repeated until the bearing surfaces showed an even covering of blue. All that remained to finish the bearing was to cut the grease groove and fit shims. Finally, new bolts and nuts were made to the old U.S. Standard size. Similarly, the studs for the crankshaft bearing caps were missing, modern UNC bolts holding them in place. New studs were made along with the correct sized nuts to complete this part of the restoration.

Cylinder head

The cylinder head was just a bare rusty casting, with worn threads to the exhaust port that would need re-cutting. It gave the appearance that perhaps it had been sandblasted and then left to rust, as there was a coating of rust all over, but no deep pitting. This rust was wire brushed off and the seat for the head gasket was cleaned with a scraper.

Trying different size reamers in the valve guides showed there was minimal wear, so standard 0.3125-inch-diameter drill rod would be used for the valve stems. Two discs 0.75 inch long were cut from some 1.375-inch-round steel bar that had been drilled in the center with a 0.3125-inch hole. One side of each disc was lightly countersunk.

After cleaning and fluxing, both the disc and stem were brazed together, leaving 0.125 inch of the stem standing proud at the countersink. Once this braze had cooled, this tip was heated and hammered to fill the countersink area to give added security.

The valve was then held in a lathe collet and the outer face of the disc turned true, with a short center hole drilled to support it when machining. This disc was then turned to a diameter of 1.30 inches. The compound slide was set to 45 degrees, using a piece of ground steel and a dial indicator to ensure accuracy, ready to cut the seat. The rest of the disc was then profiled. This procedure was repeated for the second valve and then one was stamped “E” for exhaust and the other “I” for inlet for identification purposes.

One valve was then tried in its seat after coating the surface with engineer’s blue. This showed that the seat was a close fit, so grinding paste was applied and a stick with a rubber cup was used to turn the valve to bed it into its seat. Every so often the valve was lifted and the grinding paste re-distributed. This continued until there was a bright, even ring to the seat, showing the valve was fully seated. All traces of grinding paste were then cleaned away and the procedure repeated with the second valve.

Once the valves fitted their seats, the stems were trimmed to length and holes drilled for the spring retaining pins. Two cups were made to fit under the retaining pins and over the springs. All that remained was to go through the box of springs and find two that would fit.

The pivot for the rocker arm consisted of a brass pin with a large head, the bottom end being splayed out to hold it in place. This was instead of the usual arrangement of a steel pin held in place with split pins. The head on the brass pin meant it was not easy to oil the pivot, so a 0.125-inch hole was drilled partway down the pin, ending with a cross-hole to allow oil to spread.


The igniter and the Webster Tripolar magneto gave the appearance of having been partially restored, but the iron parts had been allowed to rust. It was decided to strip it down to the component parts, cleaning and then painting where and as necessary.

The magneto had a brass body and an old insulation block with no cover. The majority of the screws used appeared to be recent, and removing one of the bearing plates showed modern coils had been fitted. This led to the assumption that a new brass body had been fitted, probably to replace a decayed pot metal one. A lid was needed for the contact block, so a piece of brass sheet was cut oversize to a width of 2.60 inches and length of 3.50 inches to be trimmed to size after each bend was made.

The first step was to bend a 0.50-inch flap on the long sides so that it would fit over the brass ears on the magneto body. This was then shaped with a file to a close fit before using a fine hacksaw blade to cut a slit down both sides at one end so that the middle could be shaped by pushing it down. The ears that remained on the sides were cut then filed so they stood a little proud before they were silver soldered to the top piece. When cool, these joints were filed flush and the exercise repeated at the other end. Once this part was completed, two holes were drilled for the retaining screws and a further hole cut for the lead-out wire.

The igniter itself already had new mica washers and tube, fahnestock clip and points fitted to the contacts. After removing the rust and dirt with a wire brush the parts were painted, ready for reassembly. The magneto was assembled, apart from the springs, and then given a couple of bursts on the magnet charger. The spin test at 500rpm generated over 8.5 amps, the target figure.

The springs and rollers were then fitted and the magneto installed on the igniter bracket, taking care to set the adjustment screw. This screw should barely touch the tail of the push finger when the inductor springs are horizontal at the “rest” position. Using the setting lever the magneto was tripped and the fat spark from the contacts was evidence that all worked as it should.

Trip rod/arm

The trip rod/arm was missing from the pushrod so a replacement would be made following the common dimensions of others fitted to small engines in my collection. Starting with the trip journal, this was made in two pieces. First, a 1-inch-diameter bushing 0.70 inches long with a 0.50-inch hole through it was turned on the lathe. A length of rectangular steel, longer than needed to allow for holding in the chuck, was turned to a diameter of 0.60 inch for 1.40 inches of its length. This was then drilled and threaded 0.3125-inch UNF for the trip rod thread. The end of this part was milled off-center to be an offset fit to the bushing before being cut to length and a slot milled in the underside for the tab for the spring. This tab was cut and filed from some 0.125-inch-thick steel. The turned section was then parted for the rest of the steel bar.

The bush and body were then brazed together and when cool the tab of metal for the spring also brazed into its slot. This tab was later drilled with a 0.125-inch hole for the trip rod spring. This journal was then filed to shape and finally the small lubrication oil hole drilled in the pivot top with a countersink drill.

Without a broach to form the square hole for the trip rod in the wedge, another method was used. A 0.312-inch slot was milled in steel and then a flat plate brazed on top of this slot, thus creating the square hole. A block of steel 0.625 inch thick by 1.125 inches wide and 1.50 inches long was held in the milling vice to cut the slot and remove surplus meal at the front inclined edge.
The top plate was made from 0.1875-inch-thick steel that was first drilled and tapped with a 0.3125-inch UNF thread for the trip rod lock nut. This steel was then mounted on a threaded mandrel and the 0.625-inch-diameter boss formed to a depth of 0.15 inch. This “lid” was then brazed in position.

Once the wedge was cool the mill was used to taper the lower part to a width of 0.375 inch and to remove the cutout at the front of the block and taper the front bottom edge. The final shaping was carried out with the grinding wheel and files. The bar for the push rod itself was made by turning some square 0.3125-inch steel to this same diameter for 1.5 inches of its length to be threaded UNF. The overall length of the rod was 5 inches.

Once the trip assembly was complete it was fitted to the body of the pushrod and it was noticed that it did not run true to the guide on the igniter bracket. Further examination showed that the trip pivot was not square and true with this part of the exhaust pushrod assembly.

The old pin was removed and a mandrel made to secure the assembly to the milling vice, where a 14mm milling cutter was used to enlarge the pin hole and machine it square. A new pivot pin was then turned on the lathe, cutting a small rim at one end then an increased diameter of 14mm before reducing to 0.50 inch for the trip pivot. After drilling a hole for the retaining pin the new pivot was pressed into position and tested. The trip now ran true.

  • Published on Jan 10, 2017
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