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.