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Look At My First Restoration!

| September/October 1999

  • John Deere

  • John Deere

2059 State Highway 29, Johnstown, New York 12095

This is a photo of my first restoration of an antique gas engine, easily recognized as a 1? HP 'E.' It was made in 1929 and carries serial number 296191. It was a badly rusted engine, not running, without a cart, and sitting in the corner of my father-in-law's John Deere dealership for several years. After completing two antique John Deere tractor restorations, I thought it would be a different challenge to restore this engine. What a challenge it was!

It was easy to figure out the no spark problem. A broken magneto armature made me realize a mag rebuild would be necessary. After a few phone calls, a business associate in Colorado located a man who rebuilds 'E' mags. So, off the mag went to Colorado to be rebuilt.

While waiting for the mag to be rebuilt, I hooked up a coil and power supply to the igniter, an external fuel supply for some fresh gas to see if it would run. When it wouldn't pop at all, I started to look further. Someone had taken the camshaft and/or the cam gear off and, of course, never bothered to line up the timing marks when reassembling. At this point I thought it best to just take it all apart and do whatever had to be done. It was a wise decision because I also found that the piston rings were seized in the piston. I also noticed the oil was disappearing into the fuel tank over the course of two or three days. Fortunately, the governor wasn't all broken up, as I have since learned is another problem area.

Those of you who have redone 'E' engines are possibly chuckling about now because you have been through this. I was not about to give up, although a lot of time would be spent to restore this engine.

So, I unstuck the rings, deglazed the cylinder, lapped the valves, retimed everything properly when the mag came back. I ordered gaskets which can still be obtained through Deere. It took two tries to get the oil pan sealed. I didn't know the oil pan had a gasket on both sides when I put it together the first time.


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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