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.
At this time, all possible angles of sell, swap, or trade began
to jam my mind. I had several F.M. engines, but the 5 H.P. Hercules
would be new to my collection. When the long awaited question was
finally asked, the Doc said he really wasn’t interested in
parting with them, but he would listen to an offer. I soon learned
there wasn’t any way of getting the 6 H.P. F.M. because he
still ground the cow’s feed with it and without a P.T.O. pulley
for his tractor, wouldn’t be able to run the feed grinder.
At this time, my strategy changed to the Hercules. The only way
I would consider a trade on this engine is with some boot over and
above his Hercules. I put a pretty stiff boot on the price, but the
Doc was happily in agreement. So there I found myself minus my
engine and loading the Hercules. Never too pleased with myself over
the trade, I returned home never to lay a wrench on the Hercules.
However, the Doc said he was looking for a P.T.O. for his tractor
and when he found one to run his feed grinder, he would sell me the
6 H.P. F.M.
Some six months later, I returned to have a friendly chat with
the Doc and see if he had found a P.T.O. I had also been on the
look-out for one. To my surprise, the Doc showed me a small syrup
mill he had my former prize F.M. belted to and you could also tell
it had really been laboring under such a load. I left again without
much hope of returning again.
The Hercules that once fogged my mind in the hallway was traded
to E. Duram in Pendleton, S.C. for a Fuller & Johnson 2 H.P.
connected to a mud-hog pump. This rig never gained my interest and
months later was traded to R. Rogers at Acres of Antiques for two 6
H.P. F.M. Even though this was some eighteen months later and a
long trip to Thomasville, Ga. where I bought a 9 H.P. Hercules
throttle governor, I still missed my prize 3 H.P. F.M.
During the meantime, I moved several large diesel engines and
this pretty well occupied my mind and the prize engine was only a
thing of the past until one day a few weeks ago when my engine
friends, Ernest and Norman, came over and wanted to trade a 6 H.P.
F.M. for the 9 H.P. Hercules I moved from Georgia. I hated to part
with the Hercules because it was a throttle governor, but being an
F.M. fan and the fact that they were trying to get a set of
Hercules, we made a trade.
At the time, I was not aware that this trade was the beginning
of the return of my prize 3 H.P. F.M. traded to Dr. Batson. I have
another engine friend, James Duncan of Easley, S.C. who owned two
‘LA’ 3-5 H.P. I.H.C. power units that were removed from hay
balers. These engines were in fine shape and had plenty of working
life left in them. When I first saw these engines, the idea came to
my mind that the Doc might be willing to trade his 6 H.P. F.M. for
one. The little 3 H.P. prize F.M. still had not come to mind
because after last seeing it belted to the syrup mill, I had lost
After James and I made a trade on the two I.H.C. engines from
the 6 H.P. F.M. I contacted Dr. Batson to ask his opinion of a
trade. He said he still didn’t have a P.T.O. and the 6 H.P.
F.M. belted to the feed grinder was getting hard to start. On this
condition, he agreed to come over and look at the ‘LA’
I.H.C. I proposed to trade. Before hanging the phone up he said, by
the way, the 3 H.P. F.M. (prize engine) is giving me trouble. From
his description of the trouble, water was getting in the cylinder
and bubbles appeared in the water hopper when you turned it
through. I figured the head gasket had blown and told the Doc to
bring it along with him and maybe I could fix the problem.
After the Doc had arrived and we had made a firm deal between
his 6 H.P. F.M. and my 3-5 H.P. ‘LA’, we started to
investigate the problem with the once-prized F.M. As I started
tearing the engine down, I tried to point out to the Doc that this
engine would have once run nicely but it just wasn’t in shape
to do the work he was doing with it. I was hoping this would be
enough bait to get the Doc in a position to trade for the other 3-5
H.P. ‘LA’ I.H.C. I had. Sure enough it was, so that after
three years of selling and trading, I have my prize 3 H.P. F.M.
back home. It needed some rework and a new paint job which will
earn it an even warmer place in my collection.
I restored this Rumely about six years ago. It is a 20-35 Model
M. I don’t know what year this mode came out, but this one was
bought new in October of 1926.
I don’t think there is any doubt as to the make of this
tractor. It is my 1934 Model D John Deere, which is used yearly for
threshing, silo filling, corn husking, field work and keeping the
Baker Fan limbered up when my steam engines aren’t steamed