An early 4 HP Stover engine with the low serial number of 974 becomes the restoration project of upright engine collector Duane Schulz.
Duane Schulz of Rockford, Ill. is another “dyed in the wool” engine enthusiast and this story starts with him. In 1984, Duane was displaying a 4 HP Stover upright engine at the Stephenson County Antique Engine Club’s show in Freeport, Ill. An elderly gentleman approached Duane and asked him if he was interested in another Stover upright engine. Stover upright engines are not common so Duane was hooked.
The only thing Duane did know was that the Stover engine was early, it was far away, it was in unrestored condition and it was expensive. The engine was in southwest Iowa (just 24 miles east of Omaha, Neb.) and the fellow wanted $800 for it. You could buy a restored Stover upright engine for that much money at that time. Because of the low serial number (974) and the natural desire to collect more engines, Duane decided to make the trip to look at the Stover engine.
Duane was less than enthused at what he found. The Stover engine had been used on a well-drilling rig that was gone, the engine was left in the dirt to rot and the price was non-negotiable. This would be a real restoration project. Duane explains why he bought the engine: “I knew if I did not buy it while I was there, I would go home and think about it and then have to make another trip. The powers that be led me to that chunk of rusty, broken and dead piece of Freeport iron.” I think any true engine collector has been in that boat. Even worse, he had to borrow the money to buy the engine!
Old 974 must have gone out with a bang because the connecting rod had busted through the crankcase, which broke the skirt on the piston and bent the rod. This problem isn’t unusual on this model. All Stover uprights use wet sump lubrication and it must be monitored closely. The early Stover engines didn’t even have a cylinder oiler that might help lubricate the bottom end. Many parts were missing, busted or stuck. The square pushrod and its bearings that run on a compound angle were worn out. The main bearing caps were broken and the bearings shot. Actually, there isn’t enough paper here to list all the broken or missing parts.
It would take a full article to list all the work done and the people involved. Let me quote Duane on the restoration: “I invested seven years of my life and more than $2,800 into the engine. It was not in running condition when I sold it to Leland Hauser. After buying it from me, he put another two years and another $2,000 into it.” Remember, that was when the dollar was worth twice its current value.
I bought the engine in 2003 from the late Leland Hauser auction that was referenced in the previous Stover Stuff article. Thanks to the tireless work of Duane, Leland and other folks, it runs like a top and is very easy to start.
I would like to thank Duane Schulz for his help on this story.
Until next time, keep your plugs dry and your igniters oiled.
Contact Joe Maurer at 797 S. Silberman Rd., Pearl City, IL 61062 • (815) 443-2223 • firstname.lastname@example.org.