A collector takes on a restoration project in the form of an IHC Mogul engine.
Manufacturer: International Harvester Corp., Chicago, IL
Serial no.: CZ756
Horsepower: 2-1/2 hp @ 500rpm
Bore & stroke: 4-1/8in x 5in
Flywheel dia. & width: 22in x 2-1/4in (flywheel), 5in x 5-1/2in (pulley)
Cooling: Hopper, 4gal capacity
Ignition: Igniter w/low-tension magneto
It seems like the conversations we have with collectors and friends can lead to other paths without any forewarning. This is what happened back in the summer of 2012. Little did I know what was about to unfold.
I had helped some friends of mine, brothers, with some magneto work for their IHC tractors in the past. We have been good friends and always enjoy a good old iron topic conversation when we have a chance. This gives us a chance to take a break from our regular lives and step back in time. Sometimes only a few weeks discussing the “Latest Find,” or decades discussing the latest restoration challenges.
It was in one of these “restoration” conversations that one of the brothers brought up a question that took me a little off guard. “So, do you feel up for a project?” he asked. Well, the curious kid in me started wondering what the heck he was talking about. He had been by my shed/shop quite a few times and knew I tinkered on various old engines, and he wanted me to stop by his place to see something when I got a chance. Well, 10 miles isn’t that far to take a break away from the yard work to see what he was talking about. So, off I went to his place to see what was up.
I pulled up to his shop, where the two brothers had some IHC “F” series tractors in various stages of restoration. Neat shop, and neat old iron. But I digress. We went for a walk to the south of the buildings to a grove of old-growth trees. He said that what he wanted me to look at was out there. In my mind I was thinking, “What the heck is going on?” We came to a pallet with a rusty engine peaking out from under a bushel basket. I lifted the galvanized tub and there was an IHC Mogul. Not a bit of paint was left on it and tree moss was growing on the surfaces of the little engine. Looking things over revealed the nameplate, which read “MOGUL ENGINE,” and it looked fairly complete. The magneto was missing, but the rest was there. And yes, stuck tight as a drum, but there she sat.
“What do you think?” he said, “Are you interested in a project?” “Umm, sure,” I replied, “but how soon would you want it fixed up?” I was thinking to myself that this was not a “fix a couple of things here or there and it is done for ya” type of project. What am I to say? What is he thinking? Well, before thinking much more I said, “Sure it can be fixed up, but it will take a while. Most anything can be brought back to life in due time.”
The engine had sat there for as long as he could remember. He said if I thought I wanted a project I could take it home to work on it. Little did I realize that also meant that it was mine from that moment on. It’s one of those pinch-me moments. If nothing else, it would make nice yard art. So, we loaded it up in the back of the truck. That was in late summer of 2012.
Upon getting it home, it went up onto a portable workbench, while I stood there looking at it thinking, “What the heck did I just take on?” Of course, it is one of those things; you just have to tear into as much as you can to see what reveals itself. Was it stuck? Heck yeah. But most of the rust was light surface rust, being that it had been under some sort of cover for who knows how long under the trees. The typical stuff was shot, like the gas tank and the studs that hold the mixer to the intake port. But it did kind of surprise me how nice and oily the inside of the crankcase was. This was a blessing, and most all of the nuts and machine screws came loose with some persuasion (heat and penetrating fluid).
At this point a person comes to that crossroad, having to make the decision whether to clean, blast and paint the newly acquired toy – or just do a mechanical restoration and call it good. Normally, the mechanical restoration route is chosen when there’s some original paint left on the engine. Well, in this case, the notion of any paint was long gone. However, this one did have some character, with that tree moss and such that had started to call the surface home. I got to thinking of all the engines I normally see at shows. Not once had I viewed a functional engine that had this type of “Patina” on it. At that point it was decided to only do a mechanical restoration, and to try to preserve the exterior a well as I could. I thought it would give spectators and other collectors something new to look at; some people would think there was no way that thing could run because of how it looked. Challenge set!
Once the inventory was established of what was needed to make it complete again, the search started. As time went on, other, easier stuff came through the shed to tinker on and the assortment of parts sat in piles here and there. Every so often, I would find a part that would make it more complete, such as the gas tank (bought new since no one would ever see it), the crankcase breather that screws on the back of the block, the valves, an OE-style magneto, and the muffler. Some of this was a learning experience in that some of the parts can’t be found from the reproduction parts sources we all know of.
The valves were the main items that couldn’t be found already to size. So, off to the local auto parts store to see if they can find anything close based off of specs. Some of you are most likely thinking, “Oh no, we know what you found in a parts store …” Well, there was a short decision on what store to go to in town. I worked in the parts business for 14 years, so the decision was to go to the oldest store in town. Out came the books. Wipe off the dust, and open to the dimensional specs pages. Looking at the pages, I found three to four different part numbers that could be made to work. All of them were obsolete. Caterpillar valves were what the specs lined up with, mostly. Next, it was off to eBay to find what I could modify to use on this engine. I know I can be stubborn at times. What can I say? I like challenges.
I was in no hurry, but once in a while I would find a nugget to add to the pile of parts. The spring of 2017 came, and we were going to be featuring IHC at our local show, the Cedar Valley Engine Club Threshers Reunion. In fact, we were going to be hosting the Iowa IHC chapter for their summer showing. Well, it had been just shy of five years since this darn thing had been taken apart, so I figured it was about time to start to assemble it for the show on Labor Day weekend. At least I had a deadline to meet.
The cart I had found a few years ago (from a 2-1/2 hp Famous), was sitting in two spots in the shed. I used the original runners from that long gone engine for a pattern for this one. The cross boards needed to be moved from what the Famous used. Why would IHC want to keep the bolt patterns similar from one engine line to another?
Getting the running gear together and ready to receive the crankcase was the first step in bringing the Mogul back into the land of the living. Once the main casting was bolted down to the cart, things started to take on a new light. The hopper was next to bolt into place. That was followed by the crankshaft and cam. Hmm, thoughts were going through my mind of what it might sound like, but I was a long ways away from that point. The engine had to come off a few times to get the new gas tank to line up correctly. Little by little, parts went back in their proper location and the piles of parts shrunk. These engines were well built, but you can sure see why they changed some things on the later “M” engines.
One item that was last to get placed on the engine was the magneto that had been found along the way by a good friend. It had a gear on it and I thought I had it licked. Little did I know that the gear on the mags weren’t the same on the small Moguls. On the two smaller engines (the 1 hp and the 1-3/4 hp), the mag gear had 32 teeth. I needed one that was a little larger in diameter and has 36 teeth. So, the search was on for this little nugget. Well, I could at least try to fire the engine up with a battery and coil hooked up. With gas in the mixer and oil in the oilers, I was all set to try to fire it up, not knowing if it would actually work. I had everything set, but I was still apprehensive of it actually working. If nothing else, I would have an engine that was assembled for the upcoming show.
With a few flips of the flywheels it “puffed.” We all know that little wisp of smoke out the exhaust pipe seems to give us more energy than we can handle. Everything else became secondary. We had a glimmer of life from something that had sat dormant for who knows how long. Okay, another fling of the flywheels (well, a few flings) and it started to hit a few times. Sounded pretty good, I thought. Check the fuel in the mixer, and make sure the oilers were still dripping oil. Then, another few spins and the engine thumped to life. The throttle needle had to be adjusted and the throttle butterfly moved to idle range, but it was running. I was dancing in my mind like the last River Dance program I viewed on PBS a while back.
Okay, now to see if the fuel pump was working right and nothing was coming loose while it was running, but everything was working like it was supposed to. Life was good. I had to call the fellow I got the engine from and let him know that it was among the living again. It wasn’t long before he and his brother were in the yard to see the Mogul with their own eyes: they never thought it would run.
I take my hat off to people who have the gumption of bringing things back to life, even if only a part of it remains and only casts a little shadow. This one wasn’t near that type of condition when I started years ago on it. I had to fill the guys in on the challenges I faced, and they could relate from their tractor restorations. They appreciated the notion of leaving it original, tree moss and all.
I feel very honored to have this engine in my collection. The first-year production Mogul has some minor differences from the later ones. Sitting next to the 1-1/2 M in the displays, you can really see how the company changed things to make them simpler and cheaper to produce. My local show is the Cedar Valley Engine Club Threshers Reunion located in northeast Iowa, just west of Charles City on SR 14. The show there is every Labor Day weekend, from Saturday though Monday. It would be great to see you there. If you want to talk old iron, there will be a chair and some shade to enjoy while we chat. I hope you enjoyed this little tale and have fun preserving the past for the future.