An Engine Odyssey

| March/April 1974

I do not know of any old engine enthusiast who has the heart to sell, swap, or trade an engine once it has been restored. When several months of hard work has been put into one of these old gasoline engines and a few knuckles skint, you just can't bring yourself to part with it. However, sometimes we let our wants overcome our better judgment or one figures a better deal might be in the making. In this article I will try to relate our engine trade that extended over a three year span.

In the spring of 1970, I heard of a Dr. Batson in Pumpkintown, S.C. who had a couple of old engines. This being only about 30 miles away, naturally I had to go and investigate this matter, if nothing else just to see the engines and meet someone who was fortunate enough to have a couple of them. For a conversation piece and something that might impress one into parting with an engine, I loaded up one of my prize 3 H.P. F.M. for the trip.

I had found this engine about a year before and it was in really foul shape. The head was cracked, valve and piston stuck, bearings completely worn out, and the cam gear and governor bracket were broken. In fact, I thought it hopeless of ever getting it to run, but since it was an F.M., I just had to give it a try.

The head was repair welded with a Ni-rod and the valves removed and ground. After some three months of soaking, heating, and banging, the piston was finally removed. To repair the cam gear bracket, I welded the broken pieces back together and used it as a pattern to mold a new casting. I guess the one thing that made me so attached to the old engine is the fact that all three bearings needed repouring. This was my first experience in this field of repair which is a very challenging and tedious job that requires a lot of hard work. Finally, the old gas burner was ready for painting and reassembly. The last major problem was to replace the missing shuttle-type magneto with a gear driven one. This was accomplished by cutting a gear with the same number of teeth and pitch as the gear on the crank shaft and machine the bore to fit a high tension impulse magnetor. This magnetor was mounted on the cam and governor bracket and driven by the cam gear. All put together and painted up, this little engine ran like a top. I am sure any engine tinker knows the feeling one has for an engine when he has spent so much time and ingenuity in restoring one of these rusty, tired, chunks of iron. I had two other engines in my collection just like this one, but for many reasons, it was the prize.

Upon arrival, I found Dr. Batson to be a very friendly individual and ready to talk about old time gas and steam engines or any old machinery one would like to discuss. Right off hand, the 3 H.P. F.M. in the back of my truck caught his eye and I believe at that moment, he knew he had to become owner of that engine.

As the Doc proceeded to show me his two engines, I was in for an eye opener. In the hallway of his barn, there sat a 5 H.P. Hercules hit-n-miss with a Webster tri-polar magnetor in fine shape. In another shed, connected to a feed grinder, was a 6 H.P. F.M. that looked as if it would need only a little gas to get it started.